In recent years, it has become easier and easier to start your own company and take your future into your own hands. With time, effort, and the right idea, you can turn your business into a success, but it’s important to learn from those who have already gone through the process of starting their own business in order to learn what did and didn’t work for them.
William Saito is a businessman from Japan who has used his experience and knowledge to create a range of successful companies. Having been both the creator and the investor, he understands what each side is looking for from the other. Anyone who’s interested in or planning to create a business in the near future could benefit from learning about his ideas on the topic of startups.
Creating a unique marketing plan and brand message is vital to reaching your target audience—even if they would be interested in your product, they still need to hear about it. Marketing should be one of your top priorities from the very beginning of the project, as it has a substantial impact on your company’s success.
While some startups may already have employees with marketing experience, it’s worth considering hiring a marketing consultant who has more extensive knowledge and expertise in the area. Having seen the successes and failures of previous businesses, they’ll be much more likely to predict what will work for your company.
Filling a Niche
As a marketer, one of your top priorities is communicating to your target audience what challenge you address, or what makes your product or service worth buying. You should have a good idea of who your business is trying to attract, and what will make them interested in your company.
This is also key for approaching venture capitalists and potential investors, as they will want to know that your business fills a need or gap in the market. These people are listening to pitches in an attempt to make money on their investment, and without a clear picture of why your company is important, they won’t be willing to take the risk.
One of the biggest problems new startups face is having to financially plan around significant loans, which can lead to crippling debt that ends the company. Since most entrepreneurs lack the experience necessary to make good choices with their loans and finances, this is a significant challenge for the vast majority of startup businesses.
Rather than taking a massive risk by borrowing large amounts at the beginning, you should consider focusing on ways to achieve more natural, organic growth with less initial capital. This minimizes the potential risk if things go badly, but also gives you more flexibility in how you want to manage your business in the first stages.
Creating a Culture
As part of a newly developed startup, you’re responsible for a large portion of the company culture, which can have a surprising effect on long-term success of failure. It also affects the type of employee who will be attracted to your business and therefore your ability to bring in new, top-tier talent.
Your business should be a reflection of your values, as well as those of the other people involved. Once you start expanding beyond the original group, you’ll need to instill those ideas in your new employees and ensure that you’re remaining faithful to what brought you together in the first place.
William Saito emphasizes diversity in his own projects and encourages it in his investments. 15 of his 19 investments are run by women, and he has spoken out against the lack of diversity in the private and public sectors. By making diversity a priority, you’ll create a business that is more forward-thinking and which promotes equality.
One of the most common things for people to hear in the context of starting a new business is that they should take risks, and William Saito believes this is a major issue for modern investors. In his own life, he failed several times before breaking through and beginning to work with much larger companies including Toshiba, NEC, and Fujitsu.
It’s easy to be concerned about the possibilities of failure and having to try again, but success often follows failure, and what are now today’s most important businesses were once entrepreneurial projects themselves. The eventual breakthrough doesn’t happen in spite of previous failures—it happens because of them.
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Having a great starting idea is, of course, vital to short- and long-term success, but it won’t be enough if you’re content to simply rest with what you have. No matter what industry you’re in or what level of funding you have, there will always be a significant amount of competition that you’ll need to out-think and out-work.
Whatever stage of business growth you’re in, continue to try to expand aggressively and find new ways to create, improve, and market your product. Don’t be content with what you have, because your competitors won’t, and if you spend time thinking you’ve already succeeded, someone will have used it to overtake you.
William Saito’s Background
William Saito’s vast experience and knowledge stems from a constant curiosity across industries. One of the most well-known startup investors in Japan, he was also an advisor of cyber-security to the Cabinet and Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry. In 2011, he was recognized at the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader. He also appeared on Nikkei’s list of most influential people in Japan.
A large portion of his investments so far have been in hardware, including batteries, biotech, and security. He believes in the future of Japan’s 3D printing and robot industries. On the other hand, he recommends against investing in storage, transistors, sensors, and similar technologies which are quickly devalued.
Read more about William Saito on his website:
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