Entrepreneurs are always drawing on the work of others, inspired by their ideas, and eager to innovate their own interpretation.

Of course, however, that interpretation must be better, faster, and stronger (you know how the song goes). Still, it's difficult often to distinguish your product from the competition. So, here are five tips for making sure your product outshines the rest.

Proof of concept

So you've got a great idea and people are starting to notice. But before you can move forward, having a strong proof of concept is the foundation you need to take your company to the next level.

In order for VCs to justify the large risk they're taking by investing in your company, you must offer them a sturdy model that promises to be successful. Think about it like test driving a car.

You wouldn't purchase the car without knowing that it drives well, right? The same goes for startups. The process of course depends on the type of startup: proof of concept can include high sales, filing a patent, or partnering with an vendor to trial a product.

Proov is a platform that allows startups to apply to test pilot their products with various interested enterprises, making it easier to attain a successful POC.

Learn From Other People's Mistakes

As the saying goes, average people learn from their mistakes, smart people learn from other people's mistakes. It's important that you always pay attention to what others are doing and try to avoid making the same mistakes.

One of the wisest moves you can make for your team as an entrepreneur is finding a mentor. Be wise when choosing who this person will be. There may be shiny distractions but just because someone runs a billion dollar company doesn't mean they're the right fit as an advisor for your company.

Be sure to seek out someone with wisdom and experience in the trenches of the industry you're a part of. It may seem like winning the lottery to enlist the help of the CEO of a Fortune 500 company however, this person is more likely to help you with funding than actually building a business on a budget.

Clarity and SoHelpful are two sites where entrepreneurs can request advice from startup experts via a quick 30 min phone call.

Know Your Customers

Know your customers and have a thorough plan of how to reach them. More often than not, potential entrepreneurs build companies without really knowing if there's a want or need for their product or service.

If you know there is a demand and a market for your idea, always remember that it will take twice as much effort to reach your customers than you originally anticipated. However, starting a business isn't only about identifying your demographic and targeting their desires. It's about finding a solution to a problem and making slight changes when something isn't working.

Customers are a core aspect of the success of any business. With a budding business it's important to build a rapport with your original customers. The amazing thing about having customers that you're friendly with is their urge to provide you with feedback and constructive ideas.

Customers that are also friends are far more likely to give you honest feedback because they want to see you succeed.

OnePulse lets startups gather insight on potential consumers and chat with a private community of customers. The startups can then send out a list of questions about something they want opinions on.

Do your homework

It's easy to mentally launch your startup into its mature phase, but it's crucial to figure out the ins and outs of the process on your own and pay your dues as far as learning the lingo of the business.

Learn how venture deals work, study the valuations in the market and what they do. There is an etiquette to this startup world and a big mistake is when a startup with no previous experience in the venture world approaches an investor with a high valuation number.

Not understanding the terminology and the process of what goes on in the world of venture capital is a great way for your budding company to remain stagnant.

Stay true to core values

The first step in this process is to identify the shared values of your company leaders and team members. Zappos, for example, sent an email to their employees asking them what values they pride themselves on.

After gathering this information, you and your co-founder can highlight the values that overlap to help you choose the most crucial ones for your company. No matter what else changes in the process of growing your startup, core values must always remain intact. It's important that you test your commitment to these values.

They mean nothing if you're not referring to them when making important decisions on a daily basis. Lead by example when motivating your team to follow these values.

 

So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and hit the ground running!

Published on: Apr 29, 2016