3 Questions Your Startup Needs to Answer in Order to Maintain Focus

When I was a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps at 22 years old, one of my captains at The Basic School was a rugged Marine who’d been awarded the Bronze Star for defending an isolated gainsay outpost from repeated Taliban attacks.

One day, he told me, “If you’re strong everywhere, it ways that you’re strong nowhere. You need to gather intelligence, determine the enemy’s most likely thoroughfare of approach, and orient your defensive position toward it. If you try to defend everywhere at once, you’ll fail.”

I’d offer similar translating to startups. The constraints of capital, talent, and time once leave you vulnerable to the competition’s every move. Trying to position yourself as a one-stop shop just spreads your resources plane thinner. The question then is, why do so many startups still try to be all things to all people so soon out of the gate?

Too Big Too Soon

Startups often finger pressured to squint worthier than they are. They want to show that they’re at the wearing whet of technology and get the sustentation of customers by promising a combination of features vastitude anything that’s misogynist on the market.

But buyers have wilt increasingly and increasingly savvy. They can smell plane a hint of nonsense from a mile away. This is why they’re increasingly likely to self-mastery wide-stretching research surpassing making a purchase, which can midpoint requesting to test out a product surpassing they buy it. When buyers realize that companies are overpromising and underdelivering, it damages the company’s reputation and lowers the likelihood of future success.

Every successful startup excelled at one thing first surpassing expanding into other features. Netflix, for example, became the weightier in on-demand DVD rentals, while Amazon became the weightier online bookseller. The same can be said for Google with search, Facebook with connecting higher students, and Uber with woebegone car ride-sharing.

Since dominating in its personnel competencies, Netflix now excels in streaming services and creating proprietary content. Amazon is doing something similar — with the wing of selling all physical goods and offering cloud-computing services. Google still provides search, but has widow email, video calls, maps, and plane self-driving cars to its roster. Facebook connects people regardless of school troupe and moreover runs a marketplace, Instagram, and WhatsApp, while Uber has branched out from a woebegone car service into UberX and UberEats.

When you have nailed lanugo your personnel competency and built it into a successful business, subsequent product lines must compliment your personnel merchantry as part of a comprehensive corporate strategy in order to protract growing in a profitable and sustainable matter. Consider WeWork, for example, which had carved out a strong niche in the shared workspace market. The visitor began investing in increasingly than just office space, moving into retail, housing, preschools, higher campuses, supplies startups, and a wave generator for inland surfing.

That’s a lot of positions to defend — and a troublemaking corporate structure. That’s why it was no big surprise when WeWork recently pulled its IPO. The visitor moreover just received a $1.75 billion line of credit from Goldman Sachs to help wipe up its debt and pension the ship afloat.

“What do you need to start a business? Three simple things: know your product largest than anyone, know your customer, and have a urgent desire to succeed.” – Dave Thomas

More Isn’t Always More

Adding features to match every perceived consumer need is tempting. Logic would tell you that increasingly of a good thing ways an plane largest thing, but when it comes to startups, that’s simply not the case.

When my startup was pitching our product, which is smart camera software used for gun detection, to a large global company, the visitor pointed out that one of our competitors moreover uses computer vision to snift guns — on top of behavioral analysis, license plate reading, healthcare analysis, x-rated object recognition, people tracking for retail, and seemingly myriad other applications. They asked why they should go with us when all we do is gun detection.

I knew of the competitor they were referencing. I knew the visitor was roughly the same size as us, so I understood a bit well-nigh their true capabilities and limitations. And I know that it’s not possible to be good at everything at once. 

I said, “If you need a tuft of wedding and whistles, ask yourself whether it’s realistic for a seed-stage visitor to unhook powerfully on all of these promises.” I suggested they hold the company’s feet to the fire and test the products rigorously surpassing making a decision.

3 Questions for Staying Focused

As a startup founder, you need to ask yourself three questions when looking to modernize your offerings, and the answers should help you maintain a sharper focus on your personnel competency. Otherwise, you risk losing sight of your target regulars and expanding too far too soon.

1. What is the most hair-trigger consumer pain point we want to solve?

For the most part, your wordplay will fall into one of four fairly wholesale categories: cost, productivity, ease of use, and assistance. Forfeit obviously involves a financial problem, like overpaying for a product or service. Productivity centers on time — or the lack thereof. Ease of process involves making a complicated matter simpler, and assistance is all well-nigh support. 

Invest in the research to uncover where your customers’ biggest pain points lie. Then, understand how your product or service can weightier solve that problem only. The first step in staying focused is zeroing in on one pain point and knowing you will need to maximize your offering’s worthiness to solve it.

“If you pinpoint the problem correctly, you scrutinizingly have the solution.” – Steve Jobs

2. Are we towers a valuable solution to this pain point? 

Once you’ve established the problem your offering will address, you should determine whether what you have to offer is unquestionably the weightier way for customers to solve it. Can your product or service take them hands from point A, where they have the problem, to point B, where it has been significantly remedied or entirely solved? If not, it’s time to pivot your strategy and modernize your offering to largest unhook that one solution, rather than just subtracting wedding and whistles.

3. Are we using feedback to improve?

Nobody knows a pain point largest than consumers. Once your product or service is in people’s hands, welcome their feedback with unshut arms. The increasingly input you can gather, the better. 

You can use the feedback directly to build your minutiae road map, permitting you to modernize upon your product or service in the way customers most want to see. Hearing from customers themselves is the only way to know the true extent to which you are solving your customers’ problems. 

To bring the most value to your customers, focus in rather than expanding out. Startups form virtually solving problems in the first place, so the sustentation should remain on finding the very weightier solution. Focus on what you’re good at and master this zone surpassing moving into other uncharted waters. That’s the foundation of success.

Have you thought well-nigh starting a business? If so, what part of this vendible resonated most with you? Share your thoughts below!