Design and Cultivate a Product with Fanatic Customer Enthusiasm and Support
I'll trade 1000 disinterested visitors for one fanatic, an ACE up your sleeve (Absolutely Crazy Enthusiast or Anomalous Customer Extremist)
A thousand bored visitors won't bring up your product in a conversation with friends. But one crazy mofo will make a T-Shirt and get a tatoo of your company logo before you release it. Then she'll slap a sticker of your web app on her motorcross bike and bum before she jumps 10 burning school buses. Raw passion starts a fire for your product and as a founder that begins (but doesn't end) with you.
Design means inventing something more compelling than what your customers already have
You can't A/B test your way into an enchanting prototype or nail stickiness for a new product. Optimizing is essential later (see step 3). There should be forethought to the story your service tells.
How will a neutral visitor feel after visiting your site?
You want to positively influence the emotional state of users. Every new and return visit or app usage is quality time for building the most important relationship for your company. Don't throw those precious seconds away.
Continual Market Research as a Way of Life
You can't do a little market research at the start and execute your way to Scrooge McDuck gold vaults. Each team member needs to scout for changes in customer value and potential opportunities. If Google or Facebook had foreseeable markets or development paths, their competitors would have struggled much harder and likely outmaneuvered them. An unpredictable future is the biggest advantage would be entrepreneurs have.
Align Ambitious Partners with Your Success
There's something vital that bootstrapped businesses don't have the benefit of out of the gate, but that doesn't mean it's beyond their grasp. That something is Hungry, Wealthy, Partners. Organic startups can negotiate their way into mutual partnerships which benefit from their growth without giving up equity. No man is an island is the only law of the network economy
Angel and Venture Backed Startups have Baked in Support
This is a given for investors who back your company. They profit from their portfolio's success. What's important to remember is the distinction between your single startup and the portfolio. Depending on the deal they may have strong influence over your business' direction, but with the rise of super angels this is no longer a given.
Swing the Acronym Rainbow Sledge Hammer
Insert your favorite optimization strategy title here. Now you can break out SCRUM, Lean or Agile development, A/B testing, Customer Funnels, Blue Oceans, and Purple Horseshoes. At this point your business has:
- designed a product that nails at least one value offer
- fanatic customers and users
- a solid read of the current market and direction
- ambitious, deep pocketed, or big channel partners
- a deep love (or tolerance) for market optimization strategies
Now you're in a race to suck up all the customers you can in your market using cash, viral marketing feedback loops, and acronym strategy soup.
Don't F it Up with Ego
Don't lean back on your earlier success because your revenue is sky rocketing and Chris Anderson wants you to keynote the TED conference to multi-billionaires. You and your team are solid, but there are hundreds of hungry entrepreneurs and killer companies looking to chew into your blossoming market.
The Other Extreme, Don't Allow Success to Paralyze You
When you're on top of a mountain, every direction looks like a steep cliff down. Remember what got you and your team where you are, taking intelligent risks and exploring new market opportunity. If you can't do that successfully running a BigCo, consider handing the reigns off to someone who's a better milkmaid, so you can start with a clean slate.
The road doesn't have to end with managing a vast behemoth. One success could be the start of new freedom. You can dream up, design, and develop more outlandish products with a brilliant execution team, or talk the richest people in the world into giving away half their money. If guys like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates aren't working on their dream jobs, it's their own damn fault.