Is it weird? After speaking to businesses and uncovering how they grew, I always come to the same few findings.
The secret is that there is no secret.
We just published an interview with Andrew Por, a law student who started Malaysia's #1 portable blender – HiBlendr from his dorm in the United Kingdom, growing to 40,000+ customers globally in 2 short years.
And again, as I spoke to Andrew, I began to see the same type of findings I've heard from other entrepreneurs.
Here are 15 common findings:
- It's always the product. You can use clever marketing to pressure people into buying. But eventually, people have to love your product.
- Solve problems. Your product has to solve a problem, whatever the problem is. An irritation, inconvenience, social pressure, etc.
- Take more swings. It's not like they knew what to do upon starting. They just tried many things and found one that worked.
- Social pressure. We are more likely to buy something when we see people we admire having it.
- Customer-first. Many of the successful entrepreneurs I spoke to were customer-first. They write handwritten messages and do unscalable things that surprise their customers in a good way.
- They start with the customer. Sounds like textbook advice, yet many people ignore it. They say things like, "I want to create a cool startup for X", and totally ignore whether people actually want it. They were focusing on what they want, not what people want.
- They don't hire agencies or contractors for customer-facing opportunities. Here's a counter-intuitive insight. I've observed that the best companies usually have in-house marketing teams. We say marketing is important and knowing our customers is key – yet businesses hand the responsibility to contractors and agencies. How can you make great stuff for customers if you don't have a relationship with them?
- They've good customer service. We build businesses to serve customers. But when we have problems, why do companies connect us with an AI chatbot that just wastes our time? That's why I really admire WPX Hosting.
- They have a flywheel. The best businesses usually have a system that generates leads and customers. It's not daily random marketing tactics.
- The move up the value chain. Many of these businesses started off offering a really small product. Eventually, they start building bigger products to solve bigger problems.
- They make profit a priority. You cannot bring likes and comments to the bank. It may be uncomfortable to hear. But to sustain a business, you need profitability. Good businesses focus on making a profit, not just revenue alone.
- Adaptation. The best entrepreneurs adapt to market and competitor changes really fast.
- Energy. I've never met a successful entrepreneur with no energy. Energy is contagious. And it's needed.
- Ask and it's given. Learn to ask. No one is going to give you business or buy from you. You have to ask.
- Nobody is coming to save you. There is no cavalry coming. Successful people show up and do it anyway, even if it might fail.
As a marketer, it is #7 that resonates with me most. This may offend some marketing agencies. But its true. If you work with an external agency, find one that can embed itself into your company.
I hope these lessons help you grow your business and help others.