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I had no intention of forming my own software company. I was kind of forced into it. You see, a few years ago, I was a full-time YouTuber. Everything was fine till my channel got demonetised. That means I was earning $0 from the ads I was putting on my videos.
There was a time when I was getting 2-3 million views every month on my channel and didn’t get a single penny. As a way to bounce back from this low, I decided to use my life savings ($5,000) to start a maker economy software startup when I was 19. I dropped out of college to work full-time at my SaaS startup, and I’ve learned valuable lessons along the way. Here are the five most important lessons I’ve learned so far:
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1. To be done is better than best
I had no coding experience – let alone building and developing startups. Despite these challenges, I was 100% confident in my idea. With the proof of concept, I was ready to do everything within my limited budget to turn my mother-in-law idea into reality.
With a well written vision and a lot of perseverance, I was able to find a good developer overseas who not only fits my budget but believed in my vision for Trend Watchers.
We still work together today. The first versions of Trend Watchers were disgusting, but over time, the UI/UX was gradually improved. When I look at my journey from a software development standpoint, I shouldn’t have taken it this far. I went through many setbacks and obstacles. I should have gone back to the start line, but with a great vision and a desire to succeed in the team, we were able to move on.
No matter how challenging a task may seem, done is always better than best. Often, perfection comes from the countless mistakes you make along the way.
2. Importance of Data Collection
One thing I implemented early on is good data collection. What do I mean by data collection? Data collection has a bad rep, thanks to big companies and scammers misusing it to make a quick buck. But data collection has a good side. Data collection can be used to make better marketing decisions. It can also be used to find out what users like and don’t like.
I collect data in a few ways, but the two most useful data collection strategies I use are asking good questions on our signup sequence and having a session recording software that tracks how long users are on each page And what do they click on? These two methods of collecting data have helped in making the right decisions and updating software to improve the user experience.
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3. Get a proof of concept before you build
For the folks behind, I’m going to repeat myself: Get a proof of concept before you build. In early 2022, I thought it would be a good idea to market within Trend Watchers. Marketplaces are great, and when used right they can be a great growth engine for startups – but no one wanted that. They just wanted trends they could use to go viral online.
Instead of listening to this market reaction, I went ahead and made it anyway, and it was a huge flop. It also caused a lot of other issues, but I wasted a lot of time and money doing things my users didn’t want at the time. Because of that experience, I always do surveys and get a proof of concept before adding a new feature.
4. Tell Your Story
Starting a software company at the age of 19 with my own money was already quite financially challenging. The next question was, how do I market this thing with a marketing budget of $0?
Growing up, I’ve always been a wonderful storyteller. In my spare time after school, I always wrote my own books. I’d go to my home office, take a few sheets of paper from the printer, fold them in half, staple them together, and boom—I had a book.
I decided to take advantage of this skill I had developed at an early age to slowly build a movement of loyal followers that would help me gain traction for Trend Watchers. The two platforms I decided to focus on for documenting my progress were Instagram and Leveraging Press. It was not an overnight success. It took a lot of writing, documentation, and pitching to slowly start telling the story of my brand, and now it’s starting to pay off.
An interesting piece of information I recently discovered about my paying customers is that they tend to stay longer knowing that their money is being put to work. A lot of my paying customers follow my story through my email list or Instagram page for weekly updates.
If you’re working on growing your startup, document your journey. Not only do you end up with a well-written magazine in the end, but you may also find loyal customers along the way.
5. Take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself
Some of the best decisions I’ve made were time-sensitive opportunities that came my way. Some of these opportunities included breaking up their schedules to attend events, visiting different places and attending certain events. About 90% of these opportunities came from nowhere, and every time I took one, it helped me immensely in the process of growing my business.
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As most people know, starting and growing a business is not easy, especially for a young adult with no prior experience. Reading books and watching YouTube videos can be very helpful and informative, but experience really is the best teacher. The skills and lessons I’ve learned through my experience have helped me grow faster, and hopefully, these five lessons above can help other entrepreneurs – young or old – grow their businesses as well. can.