In the previous article, we’ve talked about the Startup Monetization model. It’s a stat that we’ve used at You Are Launched several times, but 95% of products fail in their first year of launch and that’s why we would like to write how to Crash Test Startup.
What do you need to do to ensure that your startup goes the distance? You must understand your product, service or mobile app inside out, be aware of any potential issues and know what to do to put them right.
You can do this by asking a wide range of questions about your startup and making sure that you know all the answers.
Think of it as the ultimate job interview!
We’ve put together five questions to test-drive your knowledge of your startup. You can use your answers to clarify what your startup does, where you see yourself going in the future, and if there are any gaps in your planning.
The responses you come up with may also be helpful to provide to potential investors in order to gain funding in the near future.
So put a day aside, put some coffee on, sit down with your management team and ask yourself the questions that matter.
Don’t forget to be honest when you answer the questions! You may not want to pick holes in your startup, but it’s much better to identify any issues now than it is when you launch.
Take a deep breath, and let’s begin with the first question to crash test startup…
Crash test Startup #1. Who is your target audience?
It’s essential to have a target audience in mind when developing your product, service or app.
As tempting as it may be to try and appeal to everyone, this is not a good idea in reality. Not having a specific focus can cause you to spread your product too thin and may mean your marketing message becomes too vague.
As Meredith Hill said, “when you speak to everyone, you speak to no one.”
Remember, by defining a target audience you aren’t excluding people. You’re just determining who to focus your marketing and brand values on. People who aren’t in your target audience can still access your product or service.
How to find the right target audience
Whether you need to work a target audience out, or if you want to double-check that the target audience you’ve chosen is the right one, ask yourself the following questions.
- How old is your target customer?
- Where in the world does your target customer live?
- Are they male or female?
- What level of education does your target audience have?
- Do they have children?
- Do they have pets?
- What industry does your target customer work in, and what is their job title?
- What social media networks does your target customer use?
- Where does your target customer get their news from?
- What are your target customer’s hobbies and interests?
- How much money do they earn?
- What type of music and tv shows does your target customer enjoy?
- Which customers do you not want to target? This may sound like a weird question to ask, but knowing which customers to avoid will help refine your marketing and means that you don’t waste money
- What does your target customer do to relax?
- What does your target customer ultimately want to achieve in life?
If you can’t answer all of the questions, don’t worry. It’s better to only answer a few rather than none at all!
Don’t forget to give your target customer a name and a backstory… this will make it easier to relate to them! You can even download a stock photo to make them really stand out in your mind. Solve this, and you would be able to handle one of the main crash-test questions.
How to get the information together to define your target audience
You will need to use data to define your target audience. If you pluck the information out of thin air, then you run the risk of targeting the wrong people.
Here are some sources you can get your information from.
- Look at who your competition is targeting. You can do this by looking at their social media, PPC advertising, and website copy, as well as using competitor analysis tools
- Look at who is currently buying from you – view the qualitative data on your website, online reviews, and social media profiles. You can also ask your customers open-ended questions to get more insight into their lives
- Speak to prospective customers and see if they would be interested in your product
It may seem like a lot but having a solid target audience in place will help the success of your startup. Four out of five consumers are more likely to do business with a company that is personalized specifically to them.
Crash test Startup #2. What problems does your startup solve?
Your product, service, or app needs to fix a problem that your customers have. If it doesn’t do this, you will need to go back to the drawing board.
Having a target customer in place will help here. You’ll be able to use what you know about them to understand the pain points they experience, and how your startup can help solve the problems they have. So if you haven’t got a persona in place, we’d recommend going back to point one!
62% of customers want marketing content to speak to the pain points that they have, so it’s important to get this right.
Pain points can be split into four main types:
- Financial pain points: Where customers want to spend less money
- Process pain points: Where customers want to improve their internal processes
- Support pain points: Where customers need help to carry out a specific task
- Productivity pain points: Where customers want to manage their time more efficiently or increase their levels of happiness!
There may be a lot of problems that your startup can solve; however, it is best to focus on just one, at least to begin with. This will help you effectively market your product to the right people.
Have any businesses tried to solve the problem you have identified before? This will help you see if your idea is a viable one. If businesses have tried and failed to resolve a particular pain point in the past, then your startup may have a challenge ahead.
Once you know what issues your customers experience, you can see how your product, service, or mobile app helps to solve their problems and overdrives own crashes. This information is extremely valuable and will steer your promotional materials, as well as the copy on your website.
Crash Test Startup #3. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
When you are launching your startup, it’s vital to know where your strengths lie and what you need to work on improving. This may sound like a challenge but identifying your positives and negatives is easier than you may think!
The best way to do this is through SWOT analysis. This is where you consider your:
- Strengths – the advantages your startup has
- Weaknesses – the disadvantages your startup has
- Opportunities – external prospects you can take advantage of
- Threats – external issues that could harm your startup
Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors to do with your startup, like your knowledge and skills. Opportunities and threats are external factors, like the current state of the market, your competitors, and the economy.
Take the time to write down as many strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats as you can. Be open and honest about any shortcomings you may have. As tempting as it may be to say that your startup has no weaknesses, this approach won’t pay off in the long term.
When you have completed your SWOT analysis, you can look for connections and see what you can focus on moving forward.
How can you play to your strengths and turn your disadvantages into advantages?
Find out more about completing a SWOT analysis
Crash Test Startup #4. How are you going to make money from your startup?
As the famous saying goes… “the best things in life are free.”
However, when you have a startup, you need money to hire new staff, pay your suppliers and keep the lights in the building running. You need to know how you are going to monetize the product or service you provide in order to pay the bills.
A good starting point is to look at your finances. When you know what your cash flow is like and what you want to purchase in the future, you will have a good idea of how much money you will need to stay solvent.
This is especially important if you are bootstrapping your startup and not relying on outside investment.
When you have determined how much money you need to make, you need to agree on where you are going to get the money from. Here are some of the ways you can earn revenue from your startup:
- You can charge an upfront fee
- Startup can offer a freemium model
- You can provide a subscription service
- Your startup can charge for advertising
- Startup can use affiliate marketing
- You can charge users a commission or transaction fee
All of these monetization models have their own advantages and disadvantages, and we will go over what these are in a future article.
Whichever monetization model you choose, you need to make sure it works with your target audience. For example, if your target audience is teenagers, they may not have the money to pay for your product. In this case, keeping your product or service free of charge and using advertising to bring in revenue may be the best bet.
If you are charging money for your product, service, or app, you need to know what your price point will be. Will you charge a premium, or will you offer a discount for early adopters?
Crash Test Startup #5. How will you measure performance?
Monitoring the success of your product, service, or app through its lifecycle is critical for your test drive.
Measuring performance periodically will help you see how things are going. If things take a downturn, you can use the information to put things right quickly.
We recommend choosing five to ten key metrics (also known as key performance indicators) to measure. Fewer metrics will mean you have less of a handle on your startup, while too many will mean wasted time generating statistics
Good metrics are:
- Provide you with insight
- Are balanced between leading (future success) and lagging (past success) indicators
Which metrics are the best ones to use? It depends on your startup.
An excellent way to determine the best metrics to utilize is to look at your goals. If your goal is to make money, then revenue and return on investment are good metrics. In case you want to focus on app downloads, look at daily usage or referrals instead.
If you’re stuck, here are some good metrics to get you started:
- Sales revenue
- Net/gross profit margin
- Return on investment
- Cost of customer acquisition
- Customer retention rate/customer churn rate
- Qualified leads
- Conversion rate
- Net promoter score
Avoid vanity metrics like website visits or the number of social media users. Although it can be great to see these numbers rising month on month, they don’t tell you a lot or add value to your business.
In conclusion – what did you learn from your startup interview?
Answering these five questions in as much detail as possible is a great way to give your startup a quick health check. You can see that your startup is on the right track and make tweaks before you launch.
It’s always good to revisit these questions regularly. Your startup will grow and change over time, and your needs, as well as the needs of the market, will change.
Need to crash test startup further? Give us a call
You Are Launched has been working with lean startups, accelerators, and venture capital companies since 2014.
Specializing in lean startup methodology, we have the experience and expertise you need to help get your startup up and running.
If you have asked yourself these questions and still aren’t sure where you see your startup going, we can help provide a second opinion.
Contact us today to see how we can help.