In this article, we’re going to give you 4 keys that will help you build a successful software company. You’ll also learn about the difference between an actual startup and a simple “side project,” and what it takes to get from side project to startup.
1. Start with a Vision
What do you want your business or startup to be? What problem are you solving? How are your customers changing in their values and needs? Your vision is the key starting point for any business or software development company.
Take a look at companies like Amazon.com, Apple, and Microsoft. What unites them? Yes, they are pioneers in their respective industries. But this is not the core question. Ask yourself if these companies really started out as the giants we know today? Of course not! They started with a vision and worked from there. Some examples:
Amazon: Started as an online bookstore – transitioned into the world’s biggest online store for practically everything; Apple: Started out as personal computers only – then became one of the biggest companies in entertainment; Microsoft: Started out as a programming language company – turned into the corporate supplier of choice for most fortune 500 companies in terms of office software.
These companies are not just good examples, but they also show you how to make a successful transition from being a small, promising startup to being a huge company. All of them started with a vision.
2. Have Passion for Your Product or Service
This may sound like an odd requirement, because why would you start a business without passion? Well, it is possible that you dedicate yourself to something that doesn’t make sense because you want the money or prestige. There are actually plenty of cases where people get into software development without any passion for what they do. It’s hard work that eats up the majority of your time and energy and does not necessarily pay well at first.
On the other hand, there are also big success stories when you have a vision and develop a passion for your product or service, because it is something you believe in. For example, if you develop a website that sells natural soap for horses with the company name “Horse Soap Co.,” it is probably not going to be successful. However, if you really believe in horses and want to help them as a veterinarian or horse owner, it might be worthwhile to create products specifically for their needs. Once customers see that you really care about your product and what they get out of using it, they will start to trust you with more money.
To create passion for your business from scratch takes time. There is no simple formula, but like we have explained in other articles, it’s not about money:
Find the problem you are trying to solve. Identify a small segment of this market that really needs help. Think about customer pains in your daily life. Then, build a zero-cost product that solves this pain or problem in an elegant way. Get people to like your product or service enough that they start using it every day. This will help you create a loyal customer base and will overcome any problems with price and quality at first. Use the feedback you get from users to fine-tune your product until it has arrived at its final form and price point it deserves.
3. Invest in Your Product
Investing in your product is the most important step you can take. The product is what will make or break your business. There are many ways to invest in your product, but one of the best is through marketing. Marketing involves making yourself visible to as many people as possible and telling them about your product or service in a short and easy-to-understand way. You need to get more visibility and awareness for your product so you can be discovered by potential customers.
It is important to have a simple plan here – and that means one or two calls-to-action. What do you want your customers to do? Buy something? Sign up for a trial? Spend millions of dollars on advertising and marketing, because it’s the only way you are going to make money in the short term. Remember that most startups have a little money in the beginning, so focus on getting your product out there instead of saving money for later.
4. Be Financially Responsible
The next step after investing in your product is being financially responsible. This doesn’t mean that you have to give up on your dream right away. You don’t have to become a millionaire or something, but you do need to put money on the table towards the business to keep it running. We don’t care how much money you have in the bank, what matters is where this money is going. If you put $1,000 in your business every month and only spend $100 making your product better and getting more users, we are pretty sure that the business will not make any profit at all. On the other hand, if you don’t invest anything at all, you will most likely fail anyway.
If you are still a small company and have little money to invest, think about working on your product or service for free for a while. If investors see that the startup is doing everything in its power to improve itself and make money in the long term, they will probably give you money to continue your work. It will be necessary for you to get more customers or investors so that you can then hire employees and make more money. This is how it works in most big companies as well: You need to show proof of how much you are willing to spend on your product so that people start investing in it.