Technology advances have made launching a business in 2019 a lot easier than when I launched my first business Wine Ark in the early 2000’s.
Wine Ark was a climate-controlled storage facility for wine collectors and the first of its kind to enable users to view and manage their cellaring online.
Leveraging its success and advancing technology, I launched two other businesses – The Wine Exchange, which allowed customers to trade wine online and The Cellar Club, a club for wine collectors with technology at their core.
It’s easier to start a business today than ever before
Today, if you’re looking to start a business, you can spend just hours on Squarespace, WIX or Shopify to whip up a website, and access over a billion people on Facebook to quickly test an idea online before sinking all your savings into it. Low barriers to entry have meant the number of businesses launching has boomed in recent years – however those with longevity have several factors setting them apart.
Having a genuine passion for your business idea will help pull you through the inevitable highs and lows. As a founder, you need to perform the unique juggling act of generating new and innovative ideas to further your business, leading a team with compassion and keeping your eyes on the big picture and vision for your business.
With WINEDEPOT, my 8th venture in the wine industry, my focus and vision is to use technology to connect the global wine industry. Technology has disrupted so many industries and wine is no different. Our goal is to release the time and value trapped in the current, inefficient wine supply chain.
Having launched 8 businesses, I’ve identified the things I think are most important for any founder to consider.
Here are 7 things you need to know before launching a business:
1. You can quickly and cheaply test your idea to make sure it has legs
Spotted a gap in the market or believe things could be done differently? Try testing your idea online with a quick landing page supported by a social media campaign to determine if the audience is there and willing to buy. Don’t assume likes equal sales! Offer pre-sales or an opt-in form to keep customers informed of your launch. Talk to potential customers and do your research.
2. Prepare for a long and bumpy ride – running your own show doesn’t mean putting your feet up
If your main motivation for launching a business is to escape the 9-5, recognise that you’ll likely be working all hours and across many functions, particularly if bootstrapping. Make sure you’re passionate about your business, not just the idea of running a business. For success you need to be in it for the long haul – Most ‘overnight successes’ are ten years in the making.
3. Make the happiness of your customers your #1 priority
This I can’t stress enough. Happy customers translate to referrals and business growth, and conversely unhappy customers can shrink your business back to zero. What ‘happy’ looks like will vary from business to business, so take the time to get to know who your customers are and what makes them tick.
4. Employee happiness drives customer happiness. Take care of your team!
Sounds simple, but building a positive culture for your employees is essential. Find staff whose values are aligned with your own, and just like your customers, listen to their needs. How can you help them grow in their role and achieve their goals?
5. Make sure your business is tech-enabled
Tech is at the heart of almost every business. It is constantly evolving to help us work more efficiently and simplify our lives.
6. Always hire the best talent to support you
Don’t let your ego get in the way of being a great leader. A great leader brings together the best people for the job and motivates them to drive a business forward. Hire talent in areas you lack and assemble a team of experts to surround you.
7. Make time to manage your health and wellbeing
Business founders often struggle to separate their business and lives and particularly when starting out can pour all of themselves into a business, forgetting that they need to also manage their health and wellbeing to continue driving the ship. You can’t effectively manage a business from a place of exhaustion and poor health.
Dean Taylor is the CEO of Digital Wine Ventures (ASX:DW8) and founder of WINEDEPOT