As a veteran entrepreneur, having built over 100 companies in 30 years, Terry Matthews shared some of his considerable experiences and learnings with a group of eager young business leaders at L-SPARK recently. He suggested that he finds it inspiring to meet and chat with people who have built creative products or are exploring a new idea. However, he continues to find it astonishing to hear that while they have focused all of their time brainstorming creative technologies and solutions, many have failed to address how they will bring their product to market.
Without guidance from a fellow entrepreneur who has walked the path they are about to embark on, Mr. Matthews feels that many startups would be lost on their journey to accomplishment. For this very reason he sat down with the group at L-SPARK and shared with them the most important factors he believes a founder should consider when bringing their startup to the global marketplace.
Find a Mentor: As an entrepreneur, what you must first understand is, you don’t know what you don’t know. Part of doing it better than the rest is done by getting participation from people who have done it before. If you can, find yourself a mentor who has walked the walk, and can guide you through the inevitable obstacles.
Relationships are key: Build for your future customer by incorporating experiences and feedback from your current customer. Build a rapport with your users, talk to them and find out their needs. It is essential in the earlier days that you make a product where there is pull not push, build for your customer.
Tell a story: Put your future customer in the shoes of the user and help them to relate by telling a story. Paint a picture of who your user is, what likes and dislikes they have. What is it that your user is struggling with as a result of not using your product and how can your future customer relate?
Build a network: Get out there and share your story with your contacts in the community. Leverage high profile individuals in your network who can serve as connectors to future business opportunities or talent.
Work ethic: It won’t matter how smart you are or how well connected, you must be prepared to dig deep, work hard and hustle. Get ready to put in the hours, as it is without question that hard work goes hand in hand with success. And as you build your team, surround yourself with individuals that have the same hustle mentality. I highly recommend engaging youth as they are the performers that will bring enough energy and ambition to get the job done.
Attract talent: Be selective when growing your team. Hire only the best.
Ownership– Do what you can to get your team to buy in to the vision. Anything tangible that encourages your employees to feel as though your company’s success is their success. If you don’t like sharing and you want it all 100% for yourself, often it won’t work.
Track Success: Quarterly reports are essential for tracking progress and visualizing what efforts have proved fruitful and what strategies aren’t working. This will also show investors and stakeholder that you are taking your business seriously by taking the time to step back and reflect on the bigger picture.
Go global — fast: Right now the world is attainable, don’t limit yourself to your local market. Deploy business development reps in every major city so that your brand has visibility and reach into global markets.