The digital era moves undeniably fast – as a startup founder and entrepreneur, you often have to move even faster in order to survive. But this comes down to a lot more than just always being able to spot the “next big thing” while it’s still on the horizon. Trends are essential, yes – but a deep understanding of the game you’re actually playing is what will mean the difference between success and failure over the next few years.
If you’re in the process of creating your own startup in the digital era, there are a few key things that you’ll need to consider about the world as it exists today… and the one that might exist tomorrow.
Feedback Happens in Real-Time in the Digital Era
One of the biggest products of starting a business in the digital era comes by way of the fact that feedback isn’t just plentiful – it’s also constant. Rest assured, if you make a mistake you’re going to hear about it (probably over and over again) in real-time.
But the flip-side of that particular coin comes with the idea that you can respond to feedback just as quickly, too.
This is one of the many reasons why Elon Musk (who you may have heard of) says that knowing how to take criticism is vital for entrepreneurs forming their own startups in the modern era.
He said that he recommends that all new entrepreneurs “take as much feedback from as many people as you can about whatever idea you have. Seek critical feedback. Ask [people] what’s wrong. You often have to draw it out in a nuanced way to figure out what’s wrong,” but because this feedback is so apparent thanks to digital means, it has never been easier to turn feedback into a powerful weapon with the right perspective.
Sometimes, that feedback can demand a shift to the very business model that you’ve been working from – and that is perfectly okay. Take Pandora, for example – currently one of the top streaming music services available on a planet that is positively filled with streaming music services. Though it began life exclusively as a desktop application, Pandora’s founder saw the release of Apple’s iPhone in 2007 as the beginning of something big.
Instead of waiting to see how a particular trend played out, he listened to his audience – they were telling him very quickly that they wanted to be able to enjoy Pandora on a mobile platform. So what did he do? He led Pandora through the release of their first mobile application just a year later, in 2008. Mobile now accounts for 50% of Pandora’s business and has allowed them to stand the test of time for a decade. None of this would have been possible had the company not been willing to listen to feedback early and often all those years ago.
Marketing Moves Faster Than Ever, Too
Marketing has always been one of the cornerstones of success for any startup in any era, but it is especially important now that everything has gone digital. Gone are the days where it takes months or even weeks to find out how a particular campaign is doing. If a piece of collateral that you send out into the world really strikes a chord with an audience, you’re going to find out about it almost instantly. If it lands with a hollow “thud,” that’s something that has a tendency to happen overnight, too.
Therefore, the key takeaway from this is the idea that your marketing should be changing almost constantly – never rest on your successes (or your failures) for very long. Technology has come a long way and tools like Visme (which in transparency I’m the founder of) make it easier than ever to churn out striking, high quality content like Infographics WITHOUT a designer’s background. Anyone can do it – which means that content can be created quickly and without taking weeks for the conception, design and approval stages to complete before their eventual publication.
Because of this, you need to start looking at marketing as an active part of the process of building your business – not a “necessary evil” or something to be looked at only once you’re up and running. Marketing is now a part of getting up and running in the first place and you need to start treating it that way.
Always make it a priority to turn out new Infographics, new presentations and similar types of content. You can never create too much of it, because it’s all going to live on forever online. You can use services like Uscreen to publish as much video content as possible. Use analytics to see how certain strategies are performing and make adjustments as necessary, yes – but never, ever stop creating it.
Every piece of content that you create has the potential to be someone’s first interaction with your brand on the Internet. By creating as much of it as possible, you improve your chances of establishing those connections exponentially.
The (Forever) Constant State of Flux
Thanks to the digital world that we’re now living in, that constant state of flux that you’re experiencing as a startup founder and entrepreneur isn’t going away anytime soon. One minute, you think you’ve got it all figured out. The next minute, you wake up and realize that the rug has been pulled out from under you. Rinse, repeat, ad infinitum.
With the right perspective, however, this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – it levels the playing field, allowing startup founders with the right perspective (and foresight) to fairly compete with their larger brethren moving forward. Provided that you’re able to keep these tips in mind and maintain that perspective, you’ll find that you are able to accomplish great things.
Payman Taei is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland digital agency specializing in website design, user experience and web app development.