You know there’s a promising business opportunity when you see people ready to spend their money but … [+]
During an economic downturn, if you look close enough, there are always industries that are doing better than they ever did. What’s interesting is that despite the economy’s negative impact on buyers’ purchasing power, the demand for certain companies’ products is so high that even the leaders of the industry cannot keep up with demand.
Will you do something about it? Entrepreneurs owe their leadership, hustle, problem-solving skills and risk-taking to those in need. You know there’s a promising business opportunity when you see people ready to spend their money but can’t find anyone to take it. This is as important for new ventures as it is for existing startups whose products are not a priority anymore.
Speed is of utmost importance. What matters is introducing a product that gets customers’ job done. An MVP may not have been enough to attract your competitors’ customers a few months ago, but today, in many cases, it’s all you need to get a piece of the pie.
For example, several on-demand startups are struggling to serve customers due to limited supply. If you can find supply, it won’t matter if you have a fancy website or app, all it matters is providing your buyers with a way to order their products. This could be a simple checkout page or even a phone call.
You may have lately seen ads from the food on-demand startup, DoorDash. This is the perfect example of a startup that started a few years ago by doing things that don’t scale. With a landing page, Square reader, cell phone, iPhone’s Find My Friend app and their vehicle, they delivered their first orders in an afternoon.
The DoorDash team followed this approach not because they couldn’t build an app, it is simply the quickest and cheapest way to get customers’ job done, validate an app idea and generate revenue for investment in the next stages of the business.
Groupon also started with a non-scalable approach. All they needed to execute on their business model was a simple website that included the deals and a newsletter to promote it to their subscribers. To use another example, the founders of the e-commerce site Zappos took orders through a simple website, purchased the products from local stores and shipped them to the customers. The founders of Airbnb rented a $5,000 camera and went door to door taking professional pictures of their listings.
In sum, here are the three key stages of launching a quick solution that solves today’s biggest customer problems.
1. Find An Opportunity Worth Capturing
There are many opportunities today, but not all of them are worth capturing. Evaluate your ability to execute quickly, your resources and access. As a rule of thumb, the bigger the problem, the easier it will be to attract customers with an OK solution. Considering that you may not have the time to create an exceptional product, focusing on urgently needed solutions will increase the odds of your startup success.
2. Remember Targeting
If you go after everyone, you may not get to anyone. Figuring out who your ideal buyer is will not only simplify your promotion, but also, if you have a tight deadline to introduce a functional solution, you are more likely to build it right because you know exactly who you are building it for.
3. Do Things That Don’t Scale
Doing things that don’t scale is based on the idea that time is money because there are two common scenarios that can happen if you spend the next six months building a scalable solution. Either the problem is not big enough anymore, or the introduced solution doesn’t solve customers’ problem, at least as expected by the customer.
Startups are built to scale. Think about your path to market with a non-scalable approach as your product’s first version. We can’t expect much from the first version. If it gets customers’ job done to a point where they’re paying you for it, it’s a successful version. This is what you should be looking to build to capture today’s untapped business opportunities quickly.