3 Rules to Build a Million-Dollar Startup

Every entrepreneur dreams of starting a business that generates millions of dollars in revenue, but the reality of running a business is something different altogether.

You are probably familiar with a frequently quoted statistic that suggests that 90 percent of startups fail. Whether or not that number is accurate is debatable, but it’s true that starting a business and keeping it running are huge challenges for entrepreneurs. It’s even more difficult to drive seven-figure revenue numbers while the business is still in startup mode, with just a few employees—or maybe just one. But other small businesses have reached the million-dollar goal, so it is achievable.

Follow these rules for starting a successful business, and you’ll be on your way to building a million-dollar startup.

Listen to Your Customers

You need to make something that totally makes jaws drop and is so powerful that it can’t be ignored. But how do you know that your product is amazing? Take a look at your online reviews and ratings. Are customers raving about your product? Are customers satisfied with your service? If so, you probably have a good thing going.

But if the reviews aren’t very impressive, you need to refine your product. You can ask your customers what they want to see improved in the product. Make those changes, and give your customers credit for them. That way, you can build a base of loyal customers who will become indirect marketers of your products.

Cameron Johnson was 11 years old when he designed invitation cards for an event at his neighbor’s house. The neighbors loved his craft so much that they started paying him to design the cards. At 14, Johnson founded Cheers and Tears and earned $400,000 from software and advertising. The lesson from his amazing beginning is simple: Find out what your customers want, give your best and be willing to adapt your products to get the best results.

Think about Monetization and Get Organized

Most business owners think that if they start off with a great and compelling idea, money will start pouring in down the road. But many startups need to drive revenue right away. With that in mind, keep your focus on monetization right from the time you are starting a business.

Most companies choose one of two models. They either sell a lot of inexpensive products to many people, or they choose some big fish and concentrate on selling to them. In either case, you need to plan how you’re going to monetize your business.

Planning time can cut into the everyday routine of running a business, so help yourself out by spending a few bucks on an efficient  time-tracking application like Minterapp.

Find a Large Market and Make Your Product a Must Have

If you want to drive large revenue numbers quickly, you probably want to target a large market rather than going for a space with only a handful of potential customers. Can your product go global in a year? If you want it to, you need a product that a global audience will not be able to resist.

There are products that are nice to have, but those products aren’t necessarily going to sell in large numbers. On the other hand, there are products like the iPhone: everyone wants one. iPhones, iPads and MacBooks have captured the imagination of millions of consumers.

Find a way to design and produce the kinds of products that people just can’t ignore and have to line up at stores at 5am to buy. Use your customer feedback to tweak your products until people can’t live without them. Always think about how to turn what customers want into product features that will generate both buzz and revenue.

These types of products aren’t novelties, so don’t get caught up in trends. They need to actually make people’s lives easier, just the way Apple products do. Make sure your users get the same idea and are on the same page as your business idea. Sure, coming up with the next must-have product is much easier said than done, but other startups have done it, and so can yours.

With the right ideas, the right responses to feedback and some serious organization, your startup can reach the million-dollar plateau without having to become a big business to do it.

Alma Causey is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences and express herself through her blogs. Find her on Twitter: @almacausey

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