Opinions expressed by entrepreneur The contributors are themselves.
I didn’t set out to create my own software company. I kind of had to get into it. You see, a few years ago, I was a full-time YouTuber. Everything was fine until my channel was demonetized. That means I earned $0 from ads placed on my videos.
There was a point when I had 2-3 million monthly views on my channel and I did not receive a single Rial. As a way to bounce back from this low, I decided to put my life savings ($5,000) into launching a creative economy software startup at age 19. I dropped out of college to work full-time on my SaaS startup and learned valuable lessons along the way. Here are five of the most important lessons I’ve learned so far:
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1. Done is better than perfect
I had no experience coding—let alone building and growing a startup. Despite these challenges, I believed in my idea 100%. Backed by a proof of concept, I was willing to do anything with my limited budget to make my SaaS idea a reality.
With a well-written vision and a lot of persistence, I was able to find a good developer overseas who not only matched my budget, but also believed in my vision for the trendsetters.
We still work together to this day. The first versions of Trend Watchers were terrible, but over time the UI/UX slowly improved. When I look at my journey from a software development point of view, I shouldn’t have gone this far. I went through many failures and obstacles. I had to pull back on the start line, but with a great vision and a team with a desire to succeed, we were able to pull through.
No matter how challenging a task may seem, doing it is always better than not doing it right. Often times, perfection is achieved through the countless mistakes you make along the way.
2. Importance of data collection
One of the things I implemented early on is good data collection. What do I mean by data collection? Thanks to big companies and scammers who exploit it to make a quick buck, data collection is in bad shape. But there is a good side to data collection. Data collection can be used to make better marketing decisions. It can also be used to discover what users like and dislike.
I collect data in a number of ways, but two of the most useful data collection tactics I’ve used are asking good questions about the sign-up order and having a session recording software that tracks how long users are on each page and how long they click through. . These two methods of data collection have helped to make the right decisions and update the software to improve the user experience.
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3. Get a proof of concept before building
For the people behind, I want to repeat myself: get a proof of concept before you build. In early 2022, I thought it would be a good idea to create a market on Trend Watchers. Marketplaces are great, and when used correctly, they can be a great growth engine for startups – but no one wanted that. They just wanted trends they could use to stream online.
Instead of listening to this market feedback, I built it anyway, and it was a huge failure. It also caused a lot of other problems, but I wasted a lot of time and money on something my users didn’t want at the time. Because of this experience, I always do a survey and get a proof of concept before I add a new feature.
4. Tell your story
Starting a software company at 19 with my own money was financially challenging enough. The next question was how am I going to market this product with a marketing budget of $0?
Growing up, I was always an amazing storyteller. In my spare time after school, I always wrote my own books. I would go into our home office, get a few sheets of paper from the printer, fold them in half, staple them together, and boom—I had a book.
I decided to use this skill I developed at a young age to slowly build a movement of loyal followers that would help me attract a trending audience. The two platforms I decided to focus on documenting my progress were Instagram and using the press. It was not an overnight success. It took tons of writing, documenting, and planning to slowly start hearing my brand story, and now it’s starting to pay off.
An interesting insight I recently discovered about my paying customers is that they tend to stay longer knowing that their money is being used. Many 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 will you end up with a well-written magazine, but you can also find loyal customers along the way.
5. Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way
Some of the best decisions I’ve ever made were time-sensitive opportunities that came my way. Some of these opportunities included opportunities to buy apps, go places, and break my schedule to attend certain events. About 90% of these opportunities came out of nowhere, and each time I took one, it helped me significantly 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 person with no prior experience. Reading books and watching YouTube videos can be very helpful and informative, but experience is truly the best teacher. The skills and lessons I’ve learned through my experience have helped me grow exponentially, and I hope the five lessons above can help other entrepreneurs—young or old—grow their businesses as well.