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Major issues to time for startup success

By Andrew Makari Watila | July 1st 2015

We have all heard the saying, “timing is everything.” This is especially true for startup companies. Timing can make or break your company.

I’m not just talking about when you launch but on every milestone of the business. Bad Idea + Wrong Time = Biggest Failure Ever. Bad Idea + Right Time = Total Failure. Good Idea + Wrong Time = Likely Failure. Good Idea + Right Time = Best Chance of Success.

As a startup, you have to figure out if your idea is poised to capture a trend - or doomed to miss one and be a total flop. A business can come to market before people are truly ready for it or after too many market leaders have established footing for it to truly get through the door.

Market timing can be attributed to the success of some recent Kenyan innovative startups such as Rupu, Pesapal, Soko, Ushahidi, Lipisha, Jumia, and M-Farm. We are all excited about these companies’ unique products and services they offer, their flare for impact and their visions for a better world.

Learning from them, here is why appropriate timing is important:

Launching: There are many factors at play when you’re ready to launch. Do you know how much time it will take your team to build your initial product?

Do you have a timeline in place to release features that are must-haves for the first version of your product, followed by a timeline of sequential features that need to be released over time? How about how much time it will take to convert leads into purchasing customers?

Time of the year: Every industry has a busy season. Launching your product and approaching your customers before this season can catapult your business. Missing this peak time could mean a slow sales cycle for the remainder of the year, and approaching your customers in the height of their busy season will only lead to frustration.

Communication: The way in which you talk with customers depends on where they are in the buying process. They are those who are just learning about your company and those close to making a purchase decision.

Your messaging and timing should not be the same for both. General awareness information will not benefit a person looking to make a purchase, and a full-throttle sales pitch given to a person who has just learnt of your company won’t help either.

Acquiring new customers: Talking with customers and promising a product only to deliver it to them months later isn’t going to create loyal customers but by letting just enough time pass before providing your product can sometimes be a great thing for sales and repeat business.

To excel, you need to understand not only your business, but your industry and customers as well in order to maximise success. Be diligent, do your research and understand the appropriate timing for all aspects of your business.

- By David Cheboryot, MBA manager, Tangaza University College. For more information, email [email protected]

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