Breaking the blinkers: what every tech startup founder needs to know to grow

By Martin Sandhu, Founder,  nuom

Don’t jump the gun

We’re all familiar with the phrases ‘don’t jump the gun’ and ‘don’t run before you can walk’, and in business, this is often the key to success.

After all, the excitement of a new business idea – from launching a new website or unveiling your latest app – can have us itching to tell the world before we’re truly ready.

This can be a risky move though, since you could be left with a near-obsolete platform that lacks functionality and good UX design as you scale up.

So before you roll out the product, cast your mind ahead five years and think about where you want this to go – consider what markets you want to hit and whether you want national or international success, for example. If the latter, you’ll need to consider every detail; even the colour connotations of your product overseas as these could have negative associations in some cultures.

Have a clear roadmap

Equally as important is your audience, particularly if you’re considering scaling up. It’s vital you have a clear roadmap of every touchpoint and the flexibility to meet both current and future customer needs. Ask yourself, who do you want to target and what do you want your future clients to look like?

Like the wind, trends change rapidly and that much has never been truer than for the mobile app market. With so many competitors vying for your audience’s attention, the ways apps are designed and delivered to users is changing daily, and you have to be prepared to adapt to succeed.

Some features cannot simply be added at a later date and if you’re not prepared for growth, your app performance may stall, or even die, costing you the audience you’ve worked tirelessly to build up. Being able to effectively handle more and more requests can be challenging, and it’s a task that can’t simply be turned on or off.

Real-world testing

In this fast-paced industry, never underestimate the power of feedback. It can be the difference between your platform flying high or failing. 

While you’re scoping out the finer details of your platform, think about conducting a workshop where potential users can feedback any initial insights on aesthetic, UX design and overall performance.

By running workshops, you’ll be able to understand your audience’s thinking, which in turn will help you to define your ideas and mould your product better. If done right, you’ll find this ‘validation’ process helps to fuel your creative mind.

Don’t be afraid to take your idea back to the drawing board. This user centric ‘test and learn’ approach is really helpful by encouraging you to modify your ideas, as well as validating any concerns you have, particularly with a concept you may already feel very attached to.

If you’ve never held a workshop before, it can be a daunting task. We have built our own facilitation process, sherpa; a toolbox to help shape your workshop from start to finish.

Avoiding start-up plateau

Watch out for the dreaded ‘start-up plateau’, where the buzz of your first product falls flat, and your audience figures begin to slope off. Like with anything ‘new’ on the market, there is a certain level of excitement and hype that surrounds it.

Once launched however, if you don’t capitalise on that active market quick enough and offer your audience something extra – for example adding new, dynamic features for users to enjoy – the buzz will slowly fade.

In reality, consumers are easily bored, and with behaviours and trends changing rapidly, it’s important you’re on the ball to predict if your platform may plateau. Work hard with your team and respond to feedback from your workshops or soft launch in order to maintain that start-up feeling to ensure the longevity of your app.

Examine your app analytics to determine how people are using your app and what features are most valuable to them, and use this information to plan what specific activities you want to grow, such as transactions or time spent in-app.

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