Digital Skills Academy
Tips for start-ups to have a happy, successful and prosperous 2016

Tips for start-ups to have a happy, successful and prosperous 2016

As 2016 is just around the corner, it is an excellent opportunity to get out there and try new things, do more of what worked already, and cut the stuff that isn’t worth spending your time on.

The 80/20 Principle still applies, cut the low yielding, high time-demanding projects

Assess ruthlessly what you are spending most of your time on, and what is bringing in the most revenue to your business. If these two are not closely matched then ruthlessly examine what your priorities are, and what is taking up most of your time.

For many businesses, 80% of their revenue comes from 20% of their activities and clients. Keep focussing on the most financially promising projects, and those clients that are paying promptly when invoiced. It’s ok to have some interesting projects, and even some ‘pro-bono’ ones too, giving something back, but they must not occupy most of your time if you want to keep the revenue ticking over.

Publicity is good for your product, make sure someone on your team is actively communicating to the world how great your product is

Too many start-ups remain publicity-shy until their product is perfect, fearful their idea will be stolen by others if they publicise it. The thing is, an idea is just an idea. Without the time spent on developing it, encountering and solving problems, you don’t have a road-tested product. By having someone in your team actively telling the story of your product it alerts other people to the fact that they might be able to help you achieve your goal. It is extremely rare that your product is the only one in the market anyway. With the oxygen of publicity, your product can gain credibility and traction.

Try things out, try tweaks, new areas. Many many successes emerged from unexpected users and markets. DollarShaveClub is a good example. They tested video to reach their target market and in the first three months racked up 4.75 million views on YouTube. Not bad for a start-up on a shoestring budget. 

Research and Development

Use the new year as an opportunity to embrace a little experimentation and R & D. Your efforts may fail but you’ll never know for sure unless you actually get out of the building. The great thing about a new year is that you can embrace it to try new things. Ask your existing clients and customers what else they’d like to see, and also what they don’t like. You don’t need to build all of it, some if it may not be economically viable, but you will often get some gems too from asking these sort of questions.

Don’t be a hermit, keep talking to people, attending relevant conferences, and following the leaders in your field

January marks a new round of interesting talks, conferences, and events, both physically, and virtually. For those events where you can’t attend in person, stream and follow the proceedings. For those that you can beg, borrow, steal an invite, do so. Offering to volunteer is always a good foot in the door to attend useful events. Better still, offer to give a demo or workshop that will earn you a free ticket, and an equal footing with the other speakers that you’d like to network with.

Meeting people in person enables you to build on that relationship digitally in future conversations. We are still all very human in our dealings with others and will give a little more time to those that we have previously met in person.

The common theme in all of these points for your 2016 strategy?

Yes, you’ve guessed it. You need to be talking up your business and your product. Yes, you do need a killer product, great design, solid coding, and sales. As well as all these, however, if you take your eye off the ball in terms of communicating what you do, and why you do it well, your company will not do as well as it should. We are not yet living in a world where we are selling to robots (and if we were, it would be robots selling to robots probably). We still need to reach other people who make the purchasing decisions. For this, someone, the coder, the designer, or the business manager, but someone from your company, needs to be out there telling the world why they should choose you and not someone else to do business with.