Ben Strickland is Founder and CEO of Alliance Software, a custom software development firm. He also founded Noble Samurai, an online marketing company that at one stage was one of the top five tools in the world for SEO, as well as Web2Tv, an in-house television service for the aged care industry that was recently purchased by Swift Networks, a Perth-based publicly listed firm.
Despite his many successes, Ben has also experienced an extreme failure with Email Samurai. Overconfident from the creation and successful launch of Market Samurai, an online marketing solutions venture, his team thought they could create anything in that field. So, they developed Email Samurai, an email marketing solutions program, yet soon realized it wasn’t a problem that needed to be solved when seeking customers. From this experience, they grew knowledge and customer awareness.
Ben’s experience in executing and operating businesses led him to the realization there are two common results when starting up and they’re polar opposites; it’s either going to be a real struggle or a booming success without much in the middle. To avoid the struggle, Ben suggests there are clear methods to undertake, ensuring the scales are tipped in your favor. It all starts with your commitment of time.
How much time would you invest to dramatically help your start up?
Investing your time in research to thoroughly understand — or at the very least expose yourself — to the market place you’re entering is the most valuable and smartest thing you can do for your business. Offset complications and failures by knowing your customer and their needs to ensure your product solves an existing problem, and that takes time.
In Ben’s Master Series presentation with WeTeachMe he also breaks down four options for those looking to get into business ownership, as well as their full list of pros and cons: start a normal business, buy a franchise, buy an established business, and start a startup. During his talk, he then further delves into how to “be smart” for each option.
On offering sage advice for implementing market research, Ben shares an example of “smart” spending using test marketing that worked for him:
We made pages and put up videos that pretended the product existed. And we sent traffic to these things and asked [people] to buy a product that didn’t exist. And when they went to buy it, we said it doesn’t exist but when it does we’ll give it to you for free.
Another example of how to “be smart” for a startup is to conduct a problem vs solution interview. That is, when networking potential customers, decide to ask them questions about what their problem is or questions about solutions to a problem. After a multitude of discussions with potential customers, these two styles of questions offer definitive answers, allowing you to determine if your product is needed or not.
View Ben’s full presentation to gain his insights here:
And here’s a useful Q&A that followed the talk: