If you ask me, the year 2015 may be one of the best times in history to start a company. While it certainly isn't easy, technology gives entrepreneurs a leg up in a way they've never had before.
Unfortunately, the glut of new businesses and the rise of new technology also creates some issues, such as the fact that the average attention span today is 8.25 seconds - shorter than even a goldfish.
If you're facing these unprecedented challenges, what can you do to help your business stand out? Don't go it alone - learn from the insight from other entrepreneurs who are willing to share what's worked for them and what hasn't. Here are 13 elements in particular that today's business owners agree are important when starting a company in 2015:
Nothing helps a business succeed more than the passion of its founder. When it comes down to it, it's passion that gives you your strong vision and the desire to keep going, no matter how tough it gets.
Bob Senoff, Managing Partner of New Millennium Venture Partners, puts it this way:
"I think you need an idea that you are passionate about. Really passionate about and also it takes tremendous determination to see how to grow that idea into a business even though what you end up doing may be different than what you started doing. Finally in today's environment there is a ton of existing knowledge that you need to be thirsty to dive into while at the same time being able to use critical thinking skills to figure out what's meaningful to you."
With so many other entrepreneurs out there, eager for success, launching a new business venture that can distinguish itself from its competitors takes a lot of creativity.
Nick O'Neill, Cofounder / CEO of Treat geofenced mobile payments, puts it this way:
"It takes a vast amount of creativity to launch a startup in 2015, particularly in the Bay Area. Everyone has an app or a startup that they're pitching and standing out against that crowd is incredibly difficult. You need to think differently about every piece of marketing or pitching you release to really stand out above the rest."
In today's business environment, excellence isn't enough. Emotional intelligence and empathy are just as important in today's competitive markets.
Greg Muender, Cofounder of Fatberry,puts it this way:
"Those who build products and services that obsess over value creation will win this game. A shrewd entrepreneur understands the needs and wants of users and customers, and is building for them, not their own agenda."
The Ability to Fill a Need
Making sure that you're filling a need customers actually have is as important today as it was 100 years ago. Consumers protect their hard-earned dollars from those who don't provide value.
Yev Pusin, Social Marketing Manager at Backblaze, has this to say:
"Not much has changed from 1915 to 2015, you still have to be filling a need when starting a business. Once you have the idea down gather an MVT (minimum viable team) to help build your MVP (minimum viable product). They don't have to be top-tier talent, leverage people you know or people found online if you do not have the resources to hire, you can always get talent after you prove your concept and have capital. Once you're ready to launch, grassroots social media community building will be the fastest way to gain word of mouth, short of being in TechCrunch (which is great too)."
A Strong Idea and Great Attitude
All businesses start with a great idea. However, it's the founders that never give up that will win the biggest prize.
According to Xiao Liang, operating officer of Polarr:
"Optimistically, just a good idea. Pessimistically, EVERYTHING you got."
A Great Network
Success has always been as much about who you know as what you know. In 2015, it's no different--a great network is still key to small business success.
Divya Raghavan, Growth & Marketing Manager at BetterDoctor, puts it this way:
"It takes an open mind and a network of smart people to launch a startup in 2015′s competitive environment. You need to wear a lot of hats and do things you have no experience or qualifications to do-nobody's a killer developer, marketer, designer and salesperson all rolled into one, so you'll need to be able to approach others in your network and pick up their best practices."
Excellent Product Design
Today's technology allows almost anyone to be an entrepreneur, which has resulted in a tremendously crowded marketplace. To really stand out, your product design must stand out from your competitors.
In the words of Glenn Gillen, Founder of Glu IO:
"With barriers to entry being low products need to be incredibly well designed. Customer expectations are at an all time high so to have people talk about your product, enough to make it successful, you need to exceed those expectations. That requires a deep customer empathy combined with attention to the finer details."
Ask any 2015 business owner, and you'll hear that the challenge of dealing with distractions is a major challenge when it comes to growing a business. Having incredible focus is a key to success.
Hans van Gent, founder of Inbound Rocket, puts it this way:
"To build & launch a startup in 2015, you need a crystal clear focus. You don't want to waste time and money on products nobody wants, over the last years the "lean startup" methodology has been increasing in popularity and there is a good reason for this: it helps decrease the big amount of assumptions everyone has which all might lead to failure. Validate those assumptions first and then move forward."
Without community, you can't build your network or get the support you need. Fortunately, with today's technology, it's easier than ever to connect with others.
According to Ryan Gum, CEO of Attach:
"There are plenty of active online communities these days across almost every industry. Whether it's building your own or joining an existing one: show up, get involved, build relationships by helping others out and the long-term karma will flow back to you 10 times over."
With all of the tools available to entrepreneurs in 2015, business owners need to be resourceful. No matter what challenge you're facing, there's probably a tool for what you need - you just have to find it!
Itamar Yunger, CTO of SoundBetter, puts it this way:
"To build a startup in 2015 you need to be resourceful. There are tools and answers for almost anything out there. What you are doing now has been done and solved before. Just open your eyes and never give up!"
Making the Most Out of Your Resources
Despite all the different resources available, wastefulness is something to be avoided. Using your resources wisely is more important than ever for business success.
Nathan Resnick, Founder of Yes Man, had this to say:
"Implementing a startup in 2015 requires the ability to make the most of your resources. With the abundance of beneficial platforms available, a key to success is ensuring you get the most bang for your buck. Outsourcing has never been easier and can often save you a lot of capital."
Exceptional Team Members
Who you hire is just as important as what you do. Without a great team, you simply can't be successful in business.
Mitchell Correia, Head of Product for Casting to the People, puts it this way:
"Building and launching a startup is the easy part, it's being successful that's difficult. To build a startup, the most important thing I've found is that you need exceptional team members and advisors. Stay agile when there's uncertainty, and stay firm when you know you're right. And money, you'll also need some money."
The Ability To Identify and Solve a Problem
When it comes to starting and growing a business in 2015, it all comes down to problem-solving.
Chad Halvorson, Founder & CEO of When I Work, says this:
"Too many aspiring entrepreneurs overcomplicate things by trying to come up with new business ideas that are over-the-top "sexy" or "trendy." They think that in order to be successful, they have to come up with something revolutionary (The Uber of this, the Uber of that...). But at the end of the day, what they should actually be focusing on is addressing a real problem that people have. Your solution or business idea might not seem "sexy" to a lot of people, but if you can identify a problem, find people who have that problem, and present a solution to them, then you're on the right track toward creating a successful, sustainable business."
According to many entrepreneurs, knowing your customer is still one of the most important keys to business success in 2015. To start a company, start by knowing your customers well.
In the words of Chris Hexton, CEO/Co-Founder of Vero:
"Starting a company in 2015 is, as ever, a challenge of passion, willpower, motivation and understanding. You need to know your customer and know their pain and you need to be singularly focused on solving that pain. Sure, it's easier than ever to build a website or spin up a server, but that means there is a lot of competition and the bar is raised in terms of quality. Know your customer, solve their pain, listen to them and keep iterating. Work hard and fast and you have a shot at succeeding!"
What else would you add to this list? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below: