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Criteria For a Successful Startup

Every successful entrepreneur has his own criteria for measuring the success factor of an idea for starting a business. There is also value in studying how others make decisions. Norm Brodsky, a veteran entrepreneur who founded and built half a dozen large companies, uses a simple approach when starting a business.
According to Brodsky, three factors must be at play when venturing out:
An Established Concept
Education can be expensive. Educating the masses can be really expensive, not to mention a daunting task for a business to undertake. Stick with something people are familiar with.
Focusing on an established concept does not lessen your ability to create innovative and revolutionary products. Take Apple for example. They’ve been doing the same thing since day one – developing technology that is intuitively simple, functional and beautiful. The iPad, the iPhone, the Touch – these are all familiar devices. The market does not need a crashcourse on what these devices are and what they do. Yet, they are truly remarkable products that challenge our accepted perception of what technology is able to do, how it’s able to do it – and its aesthetics. Human-centered design has been around for centuries, yet Apple continues to push the envelope.
Takeaway – Instead of painfully searching for the “next big wow thing”, identify a familiar or understood industry/product and build upon it. Just look at what Aaron Patzer did with mint.com – genius!

Antiquated Standards

It is far too easy to fall into a trap of doing the same thing over and over, simply because that’s just the way it’s always been done. A major obstacle with this mental stronghold is that progress cannot be made without questioning and challenging assumptions. Starbucks leveraged their company on this simple premise.
Consuming coffee is a thousand-year-old practice, and a well-established and understood industry. Yet, Starbucks has transformed the way coffee is prepared, consumed and experienced by identifying a lack of quality within the USA coffee industry.
Takeaway – In what areas or industries have the standards remained fairly the same, or have not been challenged in some time? That is a potential idea to launch something better.
An Industry Niche
There are thousands of online retailers to choose from for any imaginable piece of attire. The process of selecting the right one, and doing business with them, can be quite overwhelming and disappointing. Being aware of this sad reality, Zappos carved our a niche within the online retail space by positioning themselves as “a service company that just happens to sell shoes“. As Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, states “our higher purpose is delivering happiness.” Through this shift in perspective, Zappos offers a remarkable 365 day return policy,  free shipping both ways, 24/7 customer support, and happiness.
TakeawayThere is still gold to be found within industries and products that have been around for decades. All it takes is altering something slightly that will uniquely position your idea.
Whether you’re building upon an existing concept, leveraging on it’s antiquated standards, or positioning through a unique perspective; million-dollar ideas are much closer than you know.
Simply look at what’s out there, look at products and services that are regularly consumed in your life, and make them better!

Published - July 30, 2010

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