Before selling my startup to Richard Branson, I had to get it up and running. Here’s how you can do the same.
The most common mistake entrepreneurs make when launching something new is trying to do too much at once. I call it the hammer-and-nail syndrome. Let’s say I give you one hammer and one nail. Your job is to hold the hammer in one hand and the nail in the other. All you have to do is drive that nail into a piece of wood. That’s it; just nail that one product or service. You may miss the first time or even the second, but eventually you’ll nail it.
But what if I give you two hammers and two nails? Now you have a problem. Who is going to hold the nails? Let’s say you find someone crazy enough to volunteer. Your job is to drive both nails at the same time into that piece of wood. Odds are you will miss again and again.
This is exactly how most entrepreneurs launch their businesses. They simply try to do too much at once and mistakenly believe that going to market with “more” is better. When it comes to launching your startup, don’t try to build Rome in a day. Instead, follow these three Ls.
Launch your new products and services fast and launch them often, but always focus on one thing at a time. Don’t start with the hardest thing, but, preferably, the simplest thing, the minimum viable product. This helps you get your foot in the door and allows you to have something in the market until your next bigger and better product is ready to launch.
Launch quickly but, as you do so, develop feedback loops that enable you to listen to what your customers have to say. Gather as much feedback you can, both negative and positive. What do your customers like? What do they dislike? What do they want more of? By listening closely to your target customer, you can determine your next steps to take.
Make incremental changes and improvements based on the feedback you gathered. Launch again, and continue the process of iteration, making it an ongoing part of your culture. The more you listen to your customers and learn from their feedback, the better chance you have to create a product or service people can’t resist buying.
Beyond these three Ls, I’ll toss in a bonus tip: move on. Once you have really nailed your product, found the right market fit, and given your customers what they want, move on to the next one. The first nail is in; it’s now time to start on the second. Remember, you can do everything you want and launch as many products as your entrepreneurial heart desires—just not all at once. Give each launch its own well-deserved focus and energy.