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Published on September 19th, 2012
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8 Steps To Making It Big

Making it big. A dream stays a dream unless you act upon it. Or unless you change your name and abandon your family like Donald Draper. Regardless, the question remains: how do you take your small venture out of the beginning stages and avoid becoming the nine out of ten startups which fail miserably?

Ask yourself (and answer honestly) these 8 questions and you will find yourself on a better path to success.

8 Steps to Making It Big

The Product

1. Do I have a product that people actually want?

Please don’t confuse this with the question “Do I have a product I think people want?” Often we can blind ourselves with our own delusions of grandeur and forget to actually take a step back and objectively evaluate our product.

And don’t take your own opinion for it, ask other people. Ask friends and family, but most importantly take a poll amongst your target market to see if there is sufficient demand for what you have to offer.

Look, let’s not kid ourselves. If you don’t have something people would actually want to buy in the first place it probably won’t be viable in the open market.

2. What is the quality of my product?

Now you don’t necessarily need to have a top-quality product for it to sell. But you need to be honest about the quality so you can attribute an honest price tag to it. Examples of determining quality include asking yourself:

– What material is my product made of?
– Is my product easy to use?
– Is my product durable?
– Etc.

3. What is the price of my product?

A good price can make or break whether or not your product sells. Price it too low, and you won’t make a good enough profit to continue your business. Price it too high, and you won’t have enough customers. (Though there are some exceptions).

If there are similar products on the market right now, go and do some research to figure out what the median price for that product is and price accordingly. If this is a totally new product, again go out to your target market and simply ask people “How much would you pay for something like this?” The bigger your sample, the better your estimate will be.

4. What value does this provide the customer?

Lastly, what inherent value does your product provide the customer? It it simply a useful product? Does it hold emotional value? Or does it do both? Or is it just amusing? Find these points of value because they will be your main selling points. If you can’t find any significant value for your product, I’m afraid you may need to reevaluate whether or not this is a sustainable business.

The Marketing

5. Do I have a solid overall design?

Aesthetics hold more power over consumers now than ever before. Even if you have a product that could functionally revolutionize the entire technological landscape, if it looks like a brick, you might as well burn your entire stock. Who wants to be seen walking lugging a brick around?

At the very least, make it socially presentable. On the plus side, a better looking product usually means a higher price (given that the quality and the value of your product are also on par).

Also consider your product’s branding. From the website to the logo to the packaging, make sure the look and feel conveys its worth.

6. Do I have social media coverage?

You don’t necessarily need social media to have your product become successful, but it can certainly help. It doesn’t need to be too fancy either, just be sure to choose a central hub for all your online users to congregate at. For some companies, the central hub is their main website. For others, it is Facebook, or even Twitter. Whatever it is, decide on your central hub and send all web traffic to that destination.

Social media is also a great place to engage and get feedback. The best thing about the internet is that people can be brutally honest about your product. That can be a great or a horrible thing depending on how you respond. (Hint: Listen to them and adapt accordingly)

7. Do I have a system to build brand advocates?

Some of the best brands on the market concurrently also have the best brand advocates. What is a brand advocate? It is a person who is sold on your brand and will promote you to the ends of the earth simply because they love your product. Building a customer base full of brand advocates is key for having your business succeed.

So how do you build brand advocates? Reward purchasing behavior, create models that promote a good image, be generous with your product. There are many ways to build a base of great customers, just keep this in mind: “How can I be hospitable to my customers?”

Going Global

8. Am I Be Prepared To Expand?

Are you prepared to go global if your business blows up? It’s best not to get ahead of yourselves, but it isn’t a bad idea to prepare ahead. What if you were to ramp up production from 10 units a week to 1000 units a week? Would you have the lateral wiggle room to accommodate for a growth spurt?

Start seeking out resources ahead of time, like an overseas manufacturer, a 3PL, or warehousing space, etc. If you are prepared, it will be less likely a surge in orders will paralyze your company.

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