Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Start a business at any age and the Purple Cow

Age isn't anything except a number in business, to paraphrase a song that I vaguely remember from my twenties. people come up with great ideas for a startup business at any age from their teens to their nineties. The way forward is to have the energy and time to develop that idea - or to buy in the expertise that will develop it on your behalf. You can start a business at any age if you know how, learn how or pay someone else to be the 'how.'

And it is the second part of that sentence that I find the most interesting. I have just finished reading Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable and so much of it deals with how to make a product or service (even  brand) remarkable and then how to get others to spread the word about that product to the rest of the market. The book is several years old (it still references Yahoo as the leader in search engines) so you will need to tread carefully with some of the links and references, but overall Purple Cow cuts through the old way of doing things and shows that you can start a business at any age without boundaries. You need a good idea and you need to build it from the ground up. Seth Godin looks at hitting the niches of the market - those that are likely to spread the word - rather than going for the whole market in one go.

This makes perfect sense for the startup, because they have a limited budget and often a product that isn't yet refined. Don't worry about refinement. This will come with time, feedback and a keen eye. But you can't launch a product or service to anyone and everyone. You would need deep pockets indeed to be able to make this happen. So, you segment the market down and find people that are likely to do two things -
  1. Buy from you
  2. Tell others about how great you are
This looks simple when put into ten words, but in reality it is always going to be far more difficult. Think about what this means to you and your startup before yo set off. I'll let you read the book rather than rehashing what Seth Godin has to say here, but this is a good grounding in what he is talking about. How old you are is irrelevant. You can start a business at any age in any market when you have the foundations.

Remarkable is everything

You startup business need to speak to people in a way that nobody else does. This is about the product or service, the marketing, the contact and all other aspects. If you produce something that is an imitation of what is already out there, you will struggle to fin your niche. Say you were going to launch an online retailer today. The model you would probably use is that of amazon - wildly successful and has made the owners incredibly rich. But that has already been done. It is the product of its history and the environment that it grew up in. You can't make that today because -
  1. It already exists
  2. You won't stand out
Now making an online retailer that specialises in a certain underrepresented segment of the market would get you traction. Amazon started with books. it them moved to entertainment, opened the floodgates for people to sell on their marketplace and the rest is history. You might want to be the next Amazon, but you would have to start with clothing for kittens or some other niche that will give you a foothold in the market. You can start a business at any age as long as you have the right market - and use it to your advantage.

What if you've already got the idea?

It's all well and good looking at a startup from the ground up, but most of my readers already have their idea and want to know how to develop it. You can start a business at any age but once you have that idea, you want to run with it. I'm not suggesting you change the idea. But what you can do is change the way you view your idea.

Using the principles from Purple Cow, you can think about how your idea looks from the other side of the equation. You may know your product or service inside out, but does your audience? There are other questions that you might want to consider too -
  • How big is your audience?
  • Will they buy from you?
  • Will they tell others?
  • Is this your best route to market?
Using Purple Cow thinking, you can get to grips with the way a product or service can make you a lot of money. If you break down your offering and analyse it for 'remarkability' then you can truly start a business at any age and make a success of it.

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