There’s a million and one ways to build a business – some easier, others more lucrative but ultimately almost all can be broken down into two primary categories: new and newly new. Either you’re creating or conceptualizing something for the first time or adapting or improving on an existing product, service or business model. And while ideas, inventions and market disruptors sound sexy, these make up but a small minority of the business world.
The Trap of Originality
Have you ever fancied yourself an inventor, a pioneer or dreamed of leaving your mark on mankind?
Surely we all have – entrepreneurs are at the very least a little ego driven, face it. And it’s this attribute that pushes founders to play with fire, take wild gambles and just occasionally impact the world on a profound level.
There’s a problem with swinging for the fences every time though – you strikeout more than your fair share. Go big or go home has forced many a businessman back with mom and pops as dream ventures and unrealistic expectations crushed the company before it ever began. For every Facebook, Instagram and outlandishly successful San Fran startup there are hundreds if not thousands of hopefuls who never accomplished anything.
Proven Products and Potential Home Runs
Crowdfunding’s creating a path to success once unattainable for entrepreneurs. Rather than massive overhead and damaging design changes, sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are empowering inventors, entrepreneurs and even more recently big business to enter the fray without large upfront investments in time, money and resources.
This solves a serious problem for inventors, allows for accelerated iteration, testing and business growth and is a big reason why we’re entering a Golden Age of innovation unparalleled in modern times. From an outburst of IoT devices to mainstream wearables and wicked virtual reality revolutions, we are experiencing what pure entrepreneurial expression has the capacity to produce.
The thing is not all incredible technology takes off though. If you are first to market or make assumptions on customer wants it’s easy and almost unavoidable to have a few hiccups. Early adopters are a fickle crowd and there’s a reason entrepreneurs envy Jobs as product god and visionary.
Customers Are Clueless and Can’t See the Future
Even for entrepreneurs seeking to create gamechanging products and technologies to directly address customer concerns can fall flat.
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses” – Henry Ford
Ford framed this perfectly and picks up the true trouble with original creation – mindset’s made in the here and now. People cannot as a rule of thumb envision a future or even fully understand themselves. As a species we’re so caught in the here and now, the way things are and have always been that true inspiration and change is rare and often uncomfortable. We’re creatures of habit, both good and bad and inventors looking to innovate and succeed in the market need to overcome this. To do this, you’ll to educate and inspire with a large enough incentive for change – not an easy proposition by any means.
Base Hit Businesses
I’ve heard roughly 90% of small businesses fail. And while most stats make no difference, it speaks to a larger question of success. Are businesses failing because of lack of focus, unattainable goals or simply bad planning?
But whatever the reason, it takes a great deal to build a business, even a lifestyle business to fund your freedom and free your time – a muse Mr. Tim Ferriss?
But laying the foundation and building blocks is a core to business longevity, not just in a single venture but for an entire entrepreneurial career. Founders rarely find a single venture that encompasses their life. Instead serial entrepreneurship’s the story of the day.
So why not play for singles, at least initially as you enter the world of entrepreneurship? Whether it’s physical products, starting a service business or SaaS apps for serious sales, it pays to pay attention.
Look – Who’s making money? How can you differentiate, pivot or position a similar product or offering to appeal to the market and produce a profit generating machine? You’ve seen the demand, the starving crowd’s established – now get your hotdog stand selling and your startup’s so much more likely to succeed than the many other trailblazers.
Kickstarter and Creativity
But at Art of the Kickstart it comes back to crowdfunding. And by now you may be questioning the rationale we’ve reasoned out thus far.
Kickstarter’s a platform of innovation and invention isn’t it? Backers believe in true originality…
Sadly this is simply not so. Yes the heroes of crowdfunding, the Oculuses, the Pebbles and other mass successes have made significant jumps in product vision and tech but the vast majority of crowdfunders create something common but cool.
From the many multitudes of minimalists wallets(see here for a related post), the key organizers which killed it on Kickstarter and even an astounding array of bicycle boosting multi tools, most of Kickstarter creations are not overly original. They succeed with beautiful branding, marketing and mission statements to make a minimalist’s mouth water.
Take a tip from these campaigns in creating your own, should you so choose. Be different, be unique, but do it through branding and messaging, not a shot in the dark several years in the making monstrosity of an inventive idea and your odds of success and small wins will skyrocket.
Ps. Small wins setup serious Kickstarter success down the line, here’s how!