Founding a successful technology company has been the highlight of my professional career. And doing so away from my home country means I have a unique perspective on the journey of a founder in the United States.
When I was a manager in a big corporate finance department, I saw how much organizations wasted processing bills, so I started a company to make that process more efficient. But getting to this point was no walk in the park. Just immigrating to the U.S. took a lot of effort.
Here’s what I wish someone would’ve shared with me about starting a business here at the beginning:
Professionals in Silicon Valley and the broader United States respect innovation like nowhere else in the world — at least, not in the places I’ve done business before.
So don’t be shy about sharing your passion. If you do, people will listen and help. Innovation is highly valued here. There are no dumb questions or bad ideas. People pay attention to ideas. They believe that absolutely any business venture can turn out to be the next big thing. Be proud of how your new business will make things better for everyone.
The U.S. business community is uniquely focused on new ideas. If you offer innovation, it helps build a brand that endures beyond just the product you are immediately offering. Innovation equals value. People will be willing to work with you as a result.
I identified a problem that was causing pain for people in the accounting industry. At the time, it was perceived as a small problem, but our technology spoke to the challenges in a way that demonstrated how things could be better.
We showed the market how we could positively impact their lives, and they listened. Today, we continue to innovate by adding technology capabilities that speak to that audience. If you present a solution to a big problem, people will listen.
Get Your Product Out There
When I arrived in the U.S., I wish I’d known just how eager people were to listen to and talk about new ideas. Feedback from clients, users, and customers made our product and company better, and it can help you with your own product or service. Learning from your users is how you innovate.
When we first started, we spent a lot of time on product development before we went to market. In hindsight, I wish we’d started distributing early, gotten feedback sooner, and made our platform better faster.
Focus on distribution of your product or service first. Just get it out there. If you offer something to the marketplace, even if it’s imperfect, potential users will give you a shot if your solution has the potential to improve their pain points. Their feedback will tell you what to do next.
Capitalize On Traction
When you’re starting a company, there are a lot of things outside of your control. However, distribution of your product or service is not one of them. It’s how you can build momentum in the marketplace.
When you have users, customers or an audience, you need to give your user community something to talk about. As well, distribution creates interaction with potential investors, business partners, and employees. You gain traction as a result. Luckily, there are fewer barriers to distribution in the U.S. than in many other parts of the world.
Traction validates your efforts and accelerates your development. More people will talk with you about funding and partnerships — making it easier to secure both faster.
Build A Business That’s Stronger Than Your Product Or Service
In my experience, the American business community is more tolerant of well-intentioned missteps than other communities. Failure is a way to find out what works, so embrace it. People talk about “failing fast,” which helps you avoid a grand failure that would close your company. So make sure you can recover, admit you were wrong, and build on the knowledge you’ve gained. Build a company that can survive even if your feature set didn’t quite serve customer needs, your marketing campaign didn’t yield the projected results, or the pricing matrix didn’t incentivize conversions as you’d expected.
Fail fast and early, then have a look at what’s left. Figure out what works, draw success from that, and then replicate it over and over again. It’s cheaper and quicker if you don’t have to shutter the doors every time you fail.
Finally, your peers need your support too, so encourage your fellow entrepreneurs. Starting a company can become a lonely process sometimes, so take every opportunity to provide guidance to those who need it.
I’m grateful for what my mentors taught me, and I hope what I’ve shared can benefit others on their journey. For anyone starting a business from scratch, the wisdom of those who went first is invaluable. It certainly was to me. I saved a ton of time and avoided numerous pitfalls thanks to my mentors.
Overall, I’d say the key is to be ready when the right partners come along. If I were to start now, I would focus on being prepared when opportunities for funds, partners and hiring are available.
These six points are also what make the U.S. such an appealing place to develop new ideas. The love of innovation and collaboration inherent in the business community here can provide the turbo charge for the engine of your new business.
Repost from original publication: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2017/01/13/six-lessons-from-starting-a-technology-company-in-the-u-s/#10ca686f1012