The internet has fundamentally changed the way we approach starting a business. Never before has it been so quick and easy, to develop a concept into a product that people can use.
The beauty of an online business is that the platform for distribution is already in place and the tools for creation are available to all. Vast code libraries and APIs make creating digital products cheaper and faster than ever before. In line with Lean start-up principles, start-ups have the opportunity to test and iterate ideas at low cost and high speed.
Having successfully launched Triptease this year, here are four hints to launch your online business.
1. Give it a go
The best thing to do if you have an idea is to have a go. There is no longer a valid reason to let an idea sit and fester. Build an MVP (minimum viable product), test it and learn from the experiment. From there you can decide whether your idea is business-worthy and worth bigger investments of time and money.
2. Solve a pain
The best way to ensure some degree of success is to provide a service to people or create a product that really adds value to a person or business.
As with so many business ideas, the inspiration for Triptease came from a frustration with something and wanting to fix it. While running a social media agency, I felt the travel industry should be the lead beneficiary of social media. People share travel images to Facebook timelines more than any other content and yet the travel industry is generally failing to get a good ROI from social. I was personally frustrated by the look and feel of travel review sites, which I feel are a decade out of date and they ruined the eager anticipation of forthcoming holidays.
I wanted to connect with like-minded travellers and read reviews from people like me. Once I’d realised that many other people wanted this too. I was eager to build an MVP and put my theory to the test.
3. Identify your customer
Make it your mission to understand your target customer. Understand their expectations and needs better than anybody else. You can do that through online research, but spending time seeking out and talking to them is key. Create a product that works specifically for them and truly listen to all feedback.
4. Less campaign thinking, more long-term planning
Many people make the mistake of thinking about social media as a fast ticket to success. They focus on creating a viral video or campaign. This is like planning your life based on winning the lottery in the next three months. It rarely happens. Success in social is more often based on a slow and steady approach with a long-term mind-set.
A carefully planned and operated influencer strategy is often the most cost-effective and safe route to getting a return in social. If you are clear on what you can give back to your influencers that adds value to them, over time the benefit will come back.
The beauty of digital is that it allows you to test a market on a budget and provides the tools to rapidly iterate your product. Then, once you feel “market fit”, the web and social media provide a platform for distribution like never before.
But enough reading, you should get started on that idea right now.