Running your own company can be incredibly rewarding, and if you have the entrepreneurial spirit, launching a venture might be the perfect move. But before you take the plunge, it's important to be fully prepared and have a realistic view of what it takes to succeed.
Over the last decade, my company, Turning Technologies, rose from a small office in Youngstown, Ohio, to become a global leader in instructional, assessment-delivery and data-collection solutions. Founded in 2002, the company began with the development of response technologythat was affordable, user-friendly and well documented so that users could easily grasp its benefits. Today, over 15 million response devices, commonly referred to as clickers, have been delivered to K-12 schools, universities and businesses worldwide. Along the way, we've picked up some key lessons. Below are four tips that can help you develop an idea for a new venture, build a successful enterprise and create a winning team.
Leverage a current trend
Some would-be entrepreneurs imagine that they have to invent a completely new technology or product to find success — like Thomas Edison's light bulb. But the truth is, most great entrepreneurial ideas are built around an existing cultural trend and are based on technology that is already in use. That was true for Turning Technologies — while defining our product roadmap, we analyzed communication trends and popular productivity software. We recognized that people are increasingly oriented toward interactivity and instant communication, and we leveraged existing software to create our flagship product, TurningPoint, which works with PowerPoint.
Spend time honing your pitch
Once you settle on the right idea for a product or service, make sure you build a compelling story around it. The idea that a great product sells itself is wishful thinking — to build demand for your product or service, you'll need to find a way to effectively present your value proposition.
In my career, I've found that a highly effective approach is to convey value by identifying customer pain points and positioning my product as the solution. With TurningPoint, we tapped into a real issue most training professionals and presenters face, which is that it is difficult to gather data in real time and find out what the audience is thinking during a presentation. Our product solves that problem, delivering something customers value.
It's always important to measure performance, and generate and analyze data on business operations. Relying solely on subjective impressions of how things are going is asking for trouble, and today, there are more opportunities than ever to gather data. The companies that succeed are those that make their customers happy, so it pays to find out what customers want and make sure they are satisfied with your services.
At our company, we deploy automated customer-feedback mechanisms to gather customer data on an ongoing basis. We've also made a point of soliciting customer input on existing products and development projects. This is necessary to stay agile and ensure that our products continue to meet customer requirements.
Focus on building a great team
Your company is only as good as your team, so as your venture grows, don't lose sight of the importance of creating a highly motivated, knowledgeable workforce. An incentive program that links rewards to results is a great way to keep employees focused on success, and giving staff a stake in the company can ensure they remain motivated.
At Turning Technologies, we've found that employee recognition programs are a highly effective motivational tool. Employees who have done a great job deserve accolades for their efforts, and receiving recognition and rewards inspires them to keep up the good work. We also have a profit-sharing plan to give the leadership team a stake in our success and an incentive plan to reward our sales team for excellence.
Toward successful entrepreneurship
If you're thinking about launching a new company, you're undoubtedly aware that you'll face many challenges along the way. But using the right strategy, you can improve your chances of success. As you make your plans, remember that most successful product developers tap into current behavioral or cultural trends to come up with a winning idea.
Keep in mind that you'll need to tell your story effectively to reach customers. Make sure you generate and analyze data so you can have an accurate picture of where you stand and where you should concentrate your efforts. And surround yourself with a motivated team to drive your business forward. By following those tips, you'll increase your odds of success.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. This version of the article was originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.