By Nick Cioffi / Chief Executive Officer, Rockstar Connect
Ah, the Millennial aspiring entrepreneur whose fresh out of undergrad with a big idea to take on the business world and become the next Mark Zuckerberg. We have all had a moment like this, feeling like we have identified a problem nobody else has thought to solve. Or a vision for the future nobody has seen coming yet.
Yes, these thoughts are highly unlikely to be true and we have all come to this realization. It’s the same as in youth sports when we came to grips with not being the next LeBron James on the court. At this point though, you don’t need me to tell you it isn’t true since almost every one of your friends’ parents you’ve come into contact with has probably laughed at your dreams out of the room as they prepare for their next day at the office.
If you’re reading this now then you’re probably too stubborn and determined to give up now. This means you have the potential to be an entrepreneur and grow your own company from scratch. Follow these five golden rules as you’re getting started. Most importantly, remember that every successful entrepreneur in the history of the world started in the exact same place you are reading this right now, with an idea.
1) Put Yourself Out There
If you have an idea or a problem you think you can solve in the market, test it as soon as possible. This has never been made easier and cheaper than with the internet. Create the most barebones equivalent of whatever you’re ultimately trying to do That will give you the platform to receive meaningful feedback from the market on your idea.
If it’s a type of website, build a landing page. If it’s an event, throw one together. If it’s an education program, organize a free course. Whatever you decide on, throw it against the wall and give yourself the opportunity to see what sticks. Before we knew anyone in the market would ever attend our networking events or see value in them, we threw together an event, cold-called a venue, ran some advertising and put something out for the market. The hardest part is starting, dont fail by not starting at all.
2) Listen to the Customer
When you have managed to get something out into the market for someone to consume, you need to listen as closely as possible to anything and everything that comes your way next. It’s a magical thing to have the opportunity for real people to consume your product or service, and you get to analyze their experience. It’s the honor of being a creator. Take advantage of that and figure out every ounce of their experience. Their likes, dislikes, changes and improvements, take it all in.
If you’re lucky enough that something worked well on your first trial run, identify it and hone in on it. If you have nothing positive to capture, adapt to the feedback, try again and make it better on the second run. In the early days of Rockstar Connect, my partner Steven and I had weekly conference calls with every one of our customers where all we did was ask for their feedback on every aspect of the program, likes/dislikes and things we could make better. We were able to fail fast when we needed to and make key long-term decisions about our program through the power of listening to the customer.
3) Figure Out What People Want
Once you have absorbed every ounce of customer feedback you possibly can through your minimum viable product test in the market, identify what people liked and enjoyed about your product or service. Figure out why they liked or disliked this, and if you’re really solving a problem or adding value to the customer in some way. When you identify the pain point you are fixing, become laser focused on how your delivery of the solution to this market problem can provided by you at an effective price point. Figure out how you can deliver it differently and better than anyone else.
Listen to negative feedback It can prove to be just as important as positive feedback. It doesn’t matter how you get to the end result. If you find out what is important to the consumer and how you can help them, you’ve achieved your goal. By saving all the customer feedback we acquired and designing our program around what people wanted and didn’t see value in, we were able to find our winning formula for delivering a successful program to the end customer at the most affordable price.
4) Learn How To Deliver, Patiently
After you’ve figured out what product or service you’re delivering to the market and the mission behind why you’re doing it, it’s next most important to learn how to most effectively offer it to the market. You only learn by doing it first. Just like when you were first putting out your test to identify the opportunity, that mindset is the same here. You have to be patient, sometimes painfully so, until you have the right systems in place to learn how to deliver your product/service cost effectively to make profit, and in a timely manner to satisfy customer needs. This can take years and hundreds of tries.
It may require many different personnel and variations of change from what you initially thought was the solution. What matters most is not being right on the first tries, it’s having the patience to keep trying it enough times incorrectly until you figure out the best way. In my first year as CEO, we had so many parts of the program changed which in turn caused our delivery systems to change. It required great patience by our whole team to focus on providing the best service for everyone while also scaling the operation.
5) Stay Focused On Doing One Thing Best
Once you find some success in the market by whatever metric your business will be judged, you will be given the opportunity to offshoot tons of different businesses and new ideas to add more revenue streams to your existing successful foundation. Be very careful of them in the early stages. There will be lots of people who have seen your early success and want to come into your business through the angle that will make them the most money and opportunity.
Stay focused on what has gotten you to any point of success, identify and remember what brought you into the game and got you a seat at the table. Don’t divert from that. Very few of the most successful companies in the world are remembered for anything more than delivering one product/service better than anyone else.
You and your company are much less equipped to do that than almost all the major companies out there. Follow the market signs, trust what got you there in the first place, and don’t take on any distracting partnerships or projects that may take you away from what got you here in the first place. Every week at Rockstar Connect we are approached by some company to partner with that will help us do some amazing new thing with them. Our executive team has a rule we follow every day: focus only on programs that we can consistently deliver better than anyone else in the world, anything less and you become another face in the crowd.
About Nick Cioffi
Nick Cioffi is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer for Rockstar Connect (https://www.rockstarconnect.
com). He oversees and manages the day-to-day operations of the company with the rest of the team. His company roles principally include managing teams for all Rockstar Connect events across 85+ markets nationally, and initiating strategic national growth, partnerships and opportunities. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University.