Running a startup requires you to be a fighter. A small business that’s new to the market has to fight for its position, by being scrappier than their already established competition. But they also need more support.

Statistics show that until 2008, there were significantly more startups than there were business closures. However, that has changed over the last decade to the point where the situation is almost reversed. It is clear that startups need support more than ever, and most business owners think that they need the support of investors or something like government backing. In fact, that support can also come from within. Building a strong foundation can breathe new life into your company.

Begin with the Problem

Don’t start with the product, but with the problem you’re trying to solve. Startups are very excited about their idea, but that is not the ideal place to begin. If your great idea doesn’t solve a big problem, then it can be worthless. So begin with the basics, and think about the problem. Thinking only of their idea is a narrow mindset that many startup founders fall into. To be a successful entrepreneur you have to think beyond merely making money, and that is what leads to real growth.

Get to Know Your Target Market

Have you taken the time to get to know the people that make up your target demographic? And we don’t mean when you’re pitching to them. Once you’ve discovered your target market, talk to as many potential customers as you can, 100 of them if possible. Don’t pitch your product, just listen to what they have to say. Listening will get you all the answers you want. When you move your focus away from pitching, then you’re open to listening to the customer’s pain points. That’s when you can really start solving their problems.

Be Intentional

After you’ve identified the pain points, be intentional about addressing them. Look for repeated patterns to recognize what you’re doing wrong. When you launch a new product, you can find that hundreds, if not thousands, of people sign up to try it out immediately. But customers can also leave as quickly as they came, or even quicker than you can acquire new ones. If you find that’s happening to your business, you need to invest some time and money in listening to what your customers are saying, and adjust your product or service accordingly.

Validate That Customers Are On Board

When a business fails, the reason can most likely be traced back to the fact that the product it was offering wasn’t actually needed in the market. So how can you avoid that untimely demise? It all goes back to your customers. No matter how well you think you know your customers, it’s important to understand whether they really want what you’re selling. It’s not about what you think their needs are, but what they believe their needs are. You have to keep talking to your customers to find that out. Your customers drive your changes.

As an entrepreneur, of course you hope that it’s your idea that’s revolutionary and also highly profitable. But the fact is that there are no easy businesses, and 25% of startups fail in their first year. The key is not to try and find shortcuts, because the truth is there aren’t any. Focus instead on the difficult task of building something that people want and need. Ultimately, starting a business is exciting and a lot of hard work, but if you are willing to invest in your business from the inside out, then the payoffs will be greater than you imagined.

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