When did some of the hottest companies in the world realize they actually had a business? The answers will surprise you. With countless companies like Airtime, Milk, Twitpic and Fab that haven’t quite found their business model before closing down, it makes you wonder if you have a viable business model.
Unlike becoming a parent or getting married, there’s not one single moment that “makes” someone a business owner. There are milestones, of course, but something like getting that first paying customer or registering an LLC doesn’t mean you’re a “real” business owner. That customer could be a fluke, and technically anyone can incorporate just about anything. Is 2015 the year where you realize your business is really a business?
Julia Hartz of Eventbrite largely credits the Great Recession with turning Eventbrite into a “real business” because it drove new entrepreneurs to the platform (they had no choice after being laid off but to start their own business!).
“On Eventbrite in 2009, we had more self-made entrepreneurs using our platform as their transaction engine than any other year. I mean, it was incredible to see that growth of that particular customer segment.” She says that’s when they knew that Eventbrite was something, a business, that solved a problem. As an added bonus, this B2B company also helped other small businesses develop and thrive without becoming competitors. That’s the ultimate goal of any B2B business.
Not a One Trick Pony
The vast majority of small businesses fail, but you can stack the odds in your favor. However, you also need to know when to recognize a business. Secret’s Chrys Bader-Wechseler recalls, “When it was two months later and it was just as active, and everybody was coming back every day, and the conversations were rich,” that’s when he realized he had something. It didn’t hurt that he also saw what he was offering was benefitting his community. Whether a B2B or a B2C, that’s another ultimate goal.
Of course, sometimes recognizing when you have a business really is as simple as cash! Dot & Bo’s Anthony Soohoo says when a customer opens up their wallet and hands over their credit card, that’s when business starts. Plus, it’s great “market validation,” he says. He compares his company to the Beatles doing a lot of sets in the early days as a means of testing and trying out new things to find the best fit. However, it was when the money started rolling in that he realized “we have something.”
Keeping the Momentum Going
Craig Walker of Uberconference says he realized he “had” a business well before there were paying customers! Just take a look at the problems his company solved. “Look at the call center market, how many times have you called Comcast or AT&T or someone…as you’re going through their automated response system…that sucks.” Going through all those options, finally getting transferred, having to answer all those questions again? “Can we do this better? I think on all these things (call center marketing), we can do them better,” says Walker.
For Archive.ly’s Perri Gorman, it was a mentor calling her and her business out to see she had a business beneath her. “I began to see how it could be a more valuable product than just this simple workflow,” she says.
Finally, there’s SurveyMonkey’s Dave Goldberg, who says while it’s “tough and different for every business, but I think when you get people telling you that it’s really significantly changed their behavior in a permanent way,” that’s when you know you’ve got a business.
There is no better test to find out if you have a company that going out to your customer and making them buy your product. When will you realize that you really have a business that’s worth risking everything?
What other aspects
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