Guest Blog by ClickMechanic Co-Founder and CEO Andrew Jervis
Starting a company and particularly a start-up is no easy task. The reality is that the start-up eco-system is littered with failures of various companies who were at various stages in their company life cycle. Whether you're just starting out in a bedroom or if you’ve already raised your seed round you're always fighting the odds to build something people want and grow it quickly. So with the odds stacked against you what actions are going to give you the best chance of success? Having been growing ClickMechanic for almost 4 years we've done some things well and perhaps other things could have been better but one thing that has stuck out to us is that having a clear focus on your goals and what you want to achieve can help you cut through all the noise and increase your probability of success.
But with so much start-up advice and support available out there what are the things you should really focus on that can make the difference as everyone has their own opinions and ideas of what should be done? From our own experience we've condensed this to 3 key areas that we feel if you get right mean you’re in with a good shot of getting everything else right enabling you to build a great company!
1. SOLVE A PROBLEM.
Not every business has to solve a problem to be successful but most of the best business's in the world do exactly this and in doing so you can have a lot of committed evangelists to your product. At ClickMechanic we're solving the problem of car repair and it really exists. £21Billion is spent on car repair in the UK every year and if you look at the industry reports over half of consumers feel they get ripped off when they take their vehicle to be repaired.
Getting focused on the problem you are solving and really understanding the full dynamics are imperative to build the right product to solve this. Once you start building its important to test minimum feature sets and not add multiple features that could confuse the user and once you do feel you have a product market fit (i.e. a product solution that meets the users needs) its time to scale this out.
2. CUSTOMER ACQUISITION THROUGH A SCALABLE CHANNEL.
Building a product that works is one thing but can you scale this out in such a way that you grow X% month on month while making sure your acquisition cost to acquire a user is lower than your revenue per user? Or if you know customers will come back time and again to buy your product is your acquisition cost less than the life time value of your product?
For an early stage start-up that is starting its growth journey we feel a solid 20% month on month is a reasonable target to aspire to and this is exactly what we did for 18 months after we started our real growth journey once we felt we had product market fit. However ensuring you are doing this while making positive revenue on every customer isn’t easy and you need to test multiple channels whether it be paid search, referrals, enterprise sales and any other channel to ensure you can hit this.
Perhaps the most important thing in the early stages of building your start up is ensuring you have the right team with a blend of complimentary skills, and tenacity to ensure that they are committed to building your start up over years (not months or weeks). When we founded ClickMechanic our founding team had a good blend of technical, marketing, sales and commercial skills combined with a commitment of knowing this could be a business that could take 5-10 years to grow into a major player.
When growing the team past the founders its important to build a team who share the same ethics and culture as your selves but who can also bring an extra skill or experience that you may not have otherwise had.