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6 Ways a Startup Can Surpass Entrenched Brands

Entrepreneurs often create businesses but are unable to establish themselves as leaders due to industry giants dominating the market share. This article highlights the factors than an entrepreneur should consider in order to break that dominance and establish themselves as an industry leader.

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Startups have played a substantial role in driving competition, enabling economic disruption, and introducing new trends into the market.

With cutting-edge technologies, market-friendly ideas, and strategic innovation, several startups have beat well-entrenched brands in the market, creating massive value and impact in their target markets.

A prime example of such a case is Yahoo, who was the dotcom of the year with a revenue of $125 billion back in the 1990s and 2000s. Strategic acquisitions and entrepreneurial instincts had placed Yahoo way ahead of the curve in the burgeoning digital world.

And then came Google, and everything turned upside down.

Related: Disruption vs. Innovation: Defining Success

As a startup, it focused on providing an easy-to-use search engine and capitalized on implementing a powerful algorithm that is more information-oriented. Which ultimately gave it the much-needed competitive edge over other entrenched market giants, like Yahoo, whose complex infrastructure made it difficult for them to adapt to evolving user needs.

So, what exactly do startups need to prioritize to surpass the leading brands in their market?

While it may vary from industry to industry, some primary aspects that can definitely help you pave the way include the following:

Set clear business objectives

Setting clear and actionable objectives is primary for your business since they will transform the company vision into clear-cut achievable targets. Your company vision is what defines the organizational culture and approaches used for achieving excellence and performance-driven results in everything you do. While it defines what a business aims to achieve, it also helps clarify strategies and actions you can take to achieve the goals.

Coming back to Google, the company's vision statement was clear and concrete: "to enable access to the world's information in just one click." And from the day it was launched in 1998, every one of Google's products and services has been a clear manifestation of its vision.

To set out clear business objectives, here's what you can do:

  • Write down everything you wish to achieve in the next few years.

  • Make sure every action is directly linked to your bigger goal and is productive.

  • Specify everything you are willing to do as a business.

As an entrepreneur or a startup owner, one thing that can help you surpass the entrenched brands in your industry is staying focused on what services you aim to offer.

Customer is king

You have likely heard this phrase a billion times, and there's a good reason for that: your customers are undoubtedly the primary drivers of your success. Whether you foster versatile, face-to-face, digital or third-party clientele relationships, keeping your customers happy is important, no matter the cost.

And there are several ways to evaluate whether your customers are happy or not.

Related: How to Easily Measure Customer Satisfaction

For many of you, it might be the number of times they come back to you; by how much they spend on your services; how they rate your app; or by reviews you have received from them.

Prioritizing three essential aspects can help you in achieving customer satisfaction while using your resources effectively:

  • Foresee primary problems faced by your target audience

  • Identify your potential customers

  • Deliver profitable solutions targeted to solve user problems

Not only will this help in making your products and services highly user-centric, it will also provide you with an actionable process to ensure results and success-driven performance.

Focus on the people around you

An essential entrepreneurial skill, alongside foreseeing opportunities, communicating effectively, and converting potential customers into clients, is to be good with people.

Now, people does not just mean your customers or your target audience; it includes people you interact with, work with, and deal with on a daily basis.

As an entrepreneur who aspires to redefine their industry standards, you firstly need to be a good manager.

Think about it this way; your employees, colleagues, and support staff have visions, objectives, and dreams. And to get where you wish to get in the next few years, it is important to align them with your company's vision and objectives.

In the simplest terms, there is a strong connection between a company's growth and its employee quality. And quality employees include people who can easily fit in and are better motivated to strive for a unified objective.

Here's a simple formula to use at work for this:

(10 minutes of knowing your employee + 10 minutes of your company + 10 minutes of your company plan) * once every week

Another reason why you should prioritize keeping people happy at your organization is that your customers usually prefer working with happy people.

Break the conventional thinking clutter

An entrepreneurial mindset is usually focused on experimenting with new ideas that are more customer-centric and change their target market for the good. And in order to do that, entrepreneurs often think that they have to think, walk, and act like entrepreneurs. I believe that's nothing more than a delusion.

A prospective approach, in my opinion, is to think like a leader.

Being an entrepreneur does not require you to go hard on yourself; instead, it gives you enough space to experiment with ideas and grow at your pace. Because entrepreneurship is a journey that takes you through different life experiences and teaches that success lies in consistent effort, being realistic yet humble, and working collaboratively on the prime goal.

And a successful leader, as Steve Jobs once said, is one that communicates clearly, sets clear expectations, doesn't rely on others, and takes complete final responsibility.

So, one of the important things to do when it comes to ensuring groundbreaking results is to think like a leader - build a team that is as passionate about your business as you are and create a fantastic product.

In the competitive landscape, be smart, demand execution, and showcase confidence. Believe in the power of self-fulfilling prophecy!

Always have a Plan B

Planning out your next business moves and creating road maps to carry out all essential processes is fundamental. But it is important to understand that even with bullet-proofing your plans and approaches, things can go extremely wrong. And that should not be a problem.

As an entrepreneur, when you commit yourself to giving your prospective idea a chance, and put effort into making it a successful venture, risks will come along. And a good entrepreneur is always prepared for such risks – mostly with a Plan B.

Sometimes referred to as Pivots, a Plan B helps you redefine your objectives and focus on aspects that bring substantial results.

Related: Never Doubt Yourself but Always Have a Plan B

A good example, in this case, would be my inspiration, Elon Musk, whose determination to be an entrepreneur drove him to experiment with different ideas, including PayPal, which he later sold to eBay. This determination eventually led him to found Tesla, a company with a market value of over one trillion USD, making him one of the richest CEOs in the world.

Note that Plan B does not have to be an entirely different action plan; in many cases, it's just a different strategy that ultimately supports the initial idea.The point being, if and when in doubt, there's always a plan B that would definitely work.

And how can you get one?

My usual approach is chalking out a SWOT (strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats) analysis to see what prospective threats and existing weaknesses I can discover.

Realize that success doesn't come overnight

Whenever I talk about it, I make sure to ask others about their idea of success.

Maybe it's a company worth 1 one billion USD; or a growing clientele worth thousands of overseas customers; a global market reach and credible brand recognition; or a combination of everything.

In my opinion, success is based on providing value and making a noticeable impact in your consumers' lives. However you define it, remember that success takes time, just like every other good thing. The idea is simple: success requires consistent effort, dedication, and confidence in yourself. And while it only takes one moment for everything to change, you never know when that moment will come. Until it does, you have to be patient, work hard, and take nothing for granted.

There are plenty of examples that prove success may not come early, but no one can ignore it when it does arrive.

From Lionel Messi to Harland Sanders, we are surrounded by experiences that teach us persistence is the key to success.

In my case, measuring success and quantifying efforts is subject to seeing my customers and employees being happy. It makes me feel accomplished when the people around me feel fulfilled, successful, and that they are excelling at what they do.

However, since success is a sequential process, here's what you can do to evaluate yours:

  • Set short-term targets aligned with your business goals for your team.

  • Evaluate the positive impact you created in your industry/society.

  • How many people did you help feel accomplished through your business?

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