Creating a new business feels overwhelming. There’s a ton to think about and a ton of different opinions on where you should devote your scarce time, money, and energy.
However, working with hundreds of creative business owners has taught me that focusing on a few foundations acts as a cheat code to build your business faster.
These ideas come from talking with my clients about what worked and what didn’t.
So let me save you some time and money by showing you what I have learned.
Build an audience
Before anything, I would think about building an audience. And that’s not just about getting a ton of people to follow you or join your mailing list.
But it means finding the RIGHT people to be part of your audience.
And that starts with clearly defining whom you want to serve. So we’re not just looking at vague demographics but also the types of problems they face and their particular pain points.
Only by getting clear on people’s problems can you hope to solve them.
Your audience creates a pool from which your customers and feedback come (see below).
Create an MVP
I’ve heard that if you can make $1 in your business, you can make $10. If you can make $10, you can make $100. And so on until you get to undreamt riches.
But you have to start somewhere.
And that starting point is called the minimum viable product (MVP).
That means creating the most minor thing you can make and getting it out to customers.
That doesn’t need to be something you charge money for – it can be a mailing list that provides enough value that people are willing to give you their email addresses.
So even if you’re hoping to build the next global brand, don’t get ahead of yourself. Instead, start small and work your way up.
Getting something out to customers is essential for the next step: getting feedback.
Most new business owners focus on dreaming up the right product.
This wastes time.
Instead, the trick is to focus 100% of your attention on learning and listening:
– Build an audience
– Ask what they want
– Create that thing
Don't guess; ask.
— Jon Tobin (@jontobinla) December 30, 2022
We all think we know what people want.
But our assumptions could be completely wrong, no matter how smart we are.
That’s why feedback provides the tool to prevent us from spending time, money, and energy creating something that people don’t want.
You create a foundation for getting good feedback by having a good audience and something valuable to offer.
You can get feedback quickly. Ask your customers what they think or send out regular surveys that tell you what’s working for people and what’s not.
And the good news is that even so-called “negative feedback” can teach you many valuable lessons.
There’s only one type of metric that matters in business.
It’s not revenue. It’s not profit.
It’s a metric that drives all of these.
It’s customer feedback.
Whether it’s NPS, reviews, or testimonials.
Focus on that.
— Jon Tobin (@jontobinla) December 1, 2022
Secure your brand legally
Here’s where we get into the legal foundation.
If I could only make one legal move when starting a business, it would be to secure my brand. It’s not to say that the other legal stuff isn’t essential, but brand protection is something people put off and suffer as a result.
By “brand protection,” I mean clearing and registering your trademark.
You do this because your brand will ultimately become your most valuable asset. It’s the foundation upon which you build everything else. The audience, the market, and your customers all connect with you through your brand and trademark.
That’s why when business owners leave this as an afterthought, they create a potentially disastrous situation that can lead to rebranding or substantial legal fees.
Prioritizing picking a good name and getting it registered usually gives the biggest bang for your legal buck.
Every business is different, but you win by sticking to these basics. Focus on: building an audience, creating an MVP, getting feedback, and securing your brand.
Yes, there are many other things to do, but if your goal is to move quickly and get your business going on the right foot, start there.