For more than 2 years, I’ve been researching what it takes to build a successful company. I worked in a couple of startups, hooked them up with other talented programmers in exchange for operations strategy, and also read a lot of books regarding this particular topic. Here are the few key points that are most valuable –
1. Build a monopoly –
Competition is good. You know what’s better ? A total dominance !
Google dominates the Internet search industry and Amazon dominates e-commerce. Companies spend so much of time and effort to differentiate themselves from their competition. By the end of this fight, they either end up with a lot of features in their product which no one really needs, or they would have spent a lot of resources on billboards, with art similar to the “think different” campaign; which I don’t really need.
That’s why you never hear Google say that they’re world class innovators in the machine learning /search/maps/robotics/video industry ( although, they really are ). They just portray themselves as a search engine. Companies that dominate actually try not to focus on differentiating themselves just to get away from all the unwanted attention. Google’s product was so impressively laid out that their distribution channels** seemed easy to create. On the other hand, a lot of startups go out of their way to explain how they have the next big thing with their technology. Usually, they don’t; but when they do, you don’t have to cry out loud about your latest technology.
** – Distribution channels are the ways in which you try to scatter your product so that it reaches a larger audience. We will talk about this in the later parts of this series.
2. Going from 0 to 1 –
All startups/companies are categorized into 2 groups – They’re either doing something that someone is already doing, or they’re building something new that nobody has ever tried before( only a handful of them might have). Peter Thiel calls this going from 0 to 1.
In case of the former, you will not succeed, unless you’re building something that works 10x better than what’s already out there. IT consultant firms are an example. There’s a tonne of consultancy firms here where I live, and all of them have clients. The problem is that they’re not going to be revolutionary with the kind of consulting they’re doing. It’s just not going to work.
Research that new emerging tech that you were interested in. Don’t worry about the factors/stats that tell you how it might not work. It’s very interesting how people work. They don’t know what they want until we actually give it to them. Sometimes, they’ll want it more because their friends have it too.
Stats and numbers are reliable only to a certain point. Make that leap from 0 to 1.
3. Short sightedness –
The only few things you need to worry about is how to get things done. If you have an idea, you don’t think about how much money you’ll make when you do well, or what the news will say about you – the youngest billionaire.
Make a note of the next couple of things that you have to do to atleast SEE where that idea might go in the near future. I had an idea which revolved around solar energy ( which I’ll write about in the future ). When I first thought about this, I bounced this idea off many people – friends, former colleagues, family; just to see what they think about it. What I should have been doing was to worry more about how to materialize my idea, while asking people what they think about it.
The VERY next couple of things that I had to do were –
- contact an existing company that operated in the solar industry space, and get some details that I didn’t know.
- Calculate the financials of the product – expenditure, sales, etc., in order to know if that business will even be viable according to the idea I had.
That’s it. While I was doing these, I realized I had other problems, and that list kept getting bigger. Once you solve enough problems in that list, you’ll have materialized your idea into something cool.
More How Tos will be posted in further parts of this series.