On March 20, World Forum Disrupt hosted Mogul Factory, a day-long forum in Washington D.C. that brought together founders from some of the country’s fastest-growing startups. Non-technical founders and entrepreneurs received actionable tactics that can be utilized across all industries to grow their businesses.
Here are five takeaways from Mogul Factory.
1. Connect Authentically.
Where would an entrepreneur be without someone willing to share a lending hand or words of wisdom? Never be afraid to reach out to a person who has the know-how to help you solve your current challenges or connect you to someone who can. The best networks are wide and diverse.
As Strother Gaines notes during his talk on authentic networking, you never know where help can come from, so never count any person out. Be yourself. Engage in real conversations. Some of the unlikeliest connections can lead to unexpected wins down the line.
2. Don’t Lose Sight Of Why You Got Started
John Gossart, COO and cofounder of GoodWorld, says there are two types of solutions: one that won’t and one that might. He’s seen a number of seed-stage entrepreneurs go astray by abandoning the problem their solving without even realizing it. “They come up with a brilliant solution to a problem they’ve identified and they give it to the market and the market doesn’t quite have product-market fit,” Gossart says. “So they continue to tweak the problem until the solution is a bullseye. By the time they do that, they pushed that problem so far up concentric circles, it’s a much smaller market. And, it’s brilliant for those 12 people but you just left behind this awesome adjustable market … Never lose sight of the problem. If you have to adjust your solution, you can 180 your solution. Once you identify the problem, hang on to that for dear life. That’s going to be the difference between success and failure, especially when raising capital.”
3. Test And Grow.
Feather CEO Jay Reno says testing and growing is a part of his company’s culture. “We’re reiterating every single week. We’re changing our messaging,” Reno says. “We use this product called usertesting.com. It’s slightly expensive. You can pay people $25, $50 per person to sit with you in a coffee shop. If you ask five people, that will generally give you a sense of consumer behavior. You don’t need 30. You can get a really good sense for what the trends are just from five people who you might test something with. We are rolling out a completely new product right now that is less about rental or subscription and more about the membership. We had this inkling that this would work, but it took us nine or 10 iterations of the product and messaging just to figure out what would make it resonate with 70 plus percent of the people that we show it to.”
Get your idea to your target audience and let them try it. The best products become the best because they modify and recalibrate along the way. You can’t make informed decisions without evidence, so go get some and use the feedback and data to reiterate and grow.
4. You’re No Superhero.
You cannot do everything. Let’s repeat that. You cannot do everything. As a startup founder you will do a lot, but do not aim for everything. There’s no way you can do it all and do it well.
Some things are going to fall through the cracks. Founders need to prioritize. Sel Watts, founder of wattsnext, says, “the first risk to scaling your business is perfection.”
5. It’s Not Sipping Cocktails In The Sunshine.
Often there’s this illusion that launching a startup brings flexibility and a release from the work stresses that we face at a traditional 9-5 job. Think again. Running a startup requires work/life integration, not work/life balance.
As HollywoodLife Editor-in-Chief Bonnie Fuller explained, entrepreneurship isn’t something you manage on a time clock. “You have to be prepared to really roll up your sleeves and know that you’re going to be living this 24/7. Especially if you’ve been in a traditional job. There’s no way that it fits into traditional hours. And, you’re thinking about it — even if you’re not actively doing — about it. You’re always thinking about it, what to do next and how to solve this problem.”