Every day, startups all around the globe die due to various factors. One prominent reason that stands out is timing. Even well-established startups with promising early progress have passed on because they failed to align with the right timing.
Whether it’s being ahead of or behind the curve, timing can make or break a startup. In a TED talk, Bill Gross, the founder of Idea lab, shared insights from his study of 200 companies. While some thrived and others failed despite having a talented team, a vision, and a robust business model, timing emerged as the determining factor in 42% of cases.
Gross highlighted the remarkable success stories of Uber and Airbnb, attributing their achievements not only to innovative solutions and flawless execution but also to impeccable timing. These startups emerged during a period of economic recession when people were actively seeking alternative income sources. Renting out homes to strangers or joining a ride-sharing network became appealing options. The timing couldn’t have been better.
While founders invest significant time in product development, strategic planning, and long-term strategies, fewer of them contemplate the vital question: Is their product arriving at the perfect time?
Getting To The Party Too Early
Are you facing challenges in attracting strategic partners for your startup? Do potential investors show reluctance during your pitches? Are the individuals you engage with lacking interest or even failing to respond? These early indications might suggest that your product is either arriving too early or too late in their lives.
It is possible that your target audience has not yet experienced the full extent of the problem you aim to solve. Alternatively, consumers may require more time to adjust their behaviour and embrace a new solution. Take a moment to reflect on your own daily consumer habits: Does your solution come naturally to you? If so, why doesn’t it resonate with the individuals you have been presenting to?
An illustrative case of a product entering the market too early is motorized scooters. While we can see them everywhere today, they were actually invented in the early 1900s, with the first public availability occurring in 1915. However, the motorized scooter failed to gain traction during that era, as highlighted by Smithsonian Magazine, which noted that it “was, perhaps, just a little ahead of its time with what it was offering.” The lack of demand was likely due to people not perceiving a need for such a device. In contrast, motorized scooters have achieved significant success in the present day. Lime, for instance, has now surpassed 250 million rides, showcasing the shift in consumer acceptance and adoption.
By adapting your timing to align with the audience’s readiness and the emergence of a genuine need, you can enhance the prospects of your product’s success.
It’s all about timing.
How To Nail The Timing For Your Startup
To determine the optimal timing, it is crucial to conduct a thorough market study, engage in focus groups, and establish connections with potential partners. Gather as much feedback as possible, specifically asking whether individuals would utilize your solution in the present moment—not yesterday or tomorrow. Another valuable recommendation is to observe developments in other countries. If successful counterparts of your startup already exist in different markets, it indicates a potential market fit and readiness on a global scale. In such cases, it is advisable to act swiftly before international competitors seize shares in your target market.
Furthermore, consider your personal circumstances. Are you personally prepared to launch a startup? Is this the right moment for you to embark on the entrepreneurial journey? Assess your confidence in overcoming the challenges that lie ahead and evaluate if you possess the necessary time and focus. For instance, if you have recently become a parent, maintaining focus on entrepreneurship could prove exceedingly demanding. Reflecting on my own experience, I launched my first startup when I had no family commitments, which I believe was the opportune time for me. Entrepreneurship is an extended and unpredictable roller coaster ride. Ensure that you can devote ample time and energy to it. Always remember the qualities that contribute to founder success: dedication, perseverance, grit, and, undoubtedly, timing.
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