Written by Robert Leitch.
As the executive in residence at TechGROWTH Ohio, Lee Groeschl knows what it takes to start a company. He has been involved with more than 100 different tech ventures, including three of his own. Groeschl says the entrepreneurs who succeed most often avoid falling victim to their own ambition. These founders spend time researching their ideas before they start a company to ensure their concept is original and will meet an existing need in the marketplace.
Groeschl works with new companies on a daily basis at TechGROWTH, an Ohio Third Frontier partner in southeast Ohio, to help new entrepreneurs avoid these pitfalls. His mission is to protect their intellectual property and help them grow into revenue-generating businesses.
“My job is an appropriate balance of push and pull with startups,” said Groeschl. “If we see an entrepreneur with a really good idea, but they are moving too quickly without the foundation for success in place, it’s our responsibility to reel them back in and help build that foundation.”
Here are four tips from Groeschl that every entrepreneur should consider before their next venture:
Look into any existing intellectual property. Investing in intellectual property is a big step for any entrepreneur. This forms the foundation of any startup, especially in the technology space. You don’t want to waste time developing a technology that already exists. If you know on the front end that you have the same idea as someone else, or that there are many potential competitors working towards the same intellectual property goal, you may want to develop a new idea.
Complete an analysis of the market. Before moving forward with any idea, you need to know the competitors, trends and growth rates of the market you are attempting to enter. This market analysis should be end user-driven, focusing on potential customers. Really dig into this audience for their feedback and input. If you’re developing a new technology, it should be something that people don’t currently have, but want and would find useful. If the feedback from this group doesn’t indicate that your product or service would be useful, head back to the drawing board.
Develop a commercialization strategy. The goal behind any commercialization strategy is to set milestones for your new company’s growth, along with next steps as your reach each of those milestones. The biggest early-stage milestone is the first customer. Customers generate revenue and are the lifeblood for any business to survive. If you have a weak commercialization strategy and miss that first customer, your business will fizzle out. If you do get the first customer but don’t keep them happy, your new company may have reached the end of the road.
Assemble the right team. Success isn’t possible if you don’t have the right people in place for your new business. Even if you have intellectual property, completed a market analysis and developed a foolproof commercialization strategy, it could all fall flat if you don’t have people who can keep the company moving forward. As the founder of the company, don’t feel like you have to do it all yourself. Bring in others who have the skills that you’re lacking and don’t be afraid to admit when you need help.