Before you jump into marketing your product or services, you shall refine and improve your service until your users are hooked
As Eric Ries explains in The Lean Startup, “the focus needs to be on improving customer retention.” Forget the conventional wisdom that says if a company lacks growth, it should invest more in sales and marketing.
Instead, it should invest in refining and improving the service itself until users are so happy that they can’t stop using the service (and their friends come along with them).
When I meet with the founders of a new company, my advice is almost always, 'Do fewer things.' It's true of partnerships, marketing opportunities, anything that's taking up your time. The vast majority of things are distractions, and very few really matter to your success.
(...) in fact startups do have a different sort of DNA from other businesses. Google is not just a barbershop whose founders were unusually lucky and hard-working. Google was different from the beginning.
To grow rapidly, you need to make something you can sell to a big market. That's the difference between Google and a barbershop. A barbershop doesn't scale.
For a company to grow really big, it must:
(a) make something lots of people want, and
(b) reach and serve all those people.
Barbershops are doing fine in the (a) department. Almost everyone needs their hair cut. The problem for a barbershop, as for any retail establishment, is (b). A barbershop serves customers in person, and few will travel far for a haircut. And even if they did the barbershop couldn't accomodate them.
Writing software is a great way to solve (b), but you can still end up constrained in (a). If you write software to teach Tibetan to Hungarian speakers, you'll be able to reach most of the people who want it, but there won't be many of them. If you make software to teach English to Chinese speakers, however, you're in startup territory.
Most businesses are tightly constrained in (a) or (b). The distinctive feature of successful startups is that they're not.
Disruption also attracts attention: disruptors are people who look for trouble and find it. Disruptive kids get sent in the principle's ofﬁce. [Disruptive companies] often pick ﬁghts they can’t win. Think of Napster: the name itself meant trouble. What kinds of things can one “nap”? Music... Kids...and perhaps not much else. Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker, Napster's then teenage founders, credibly threatened to disrupt the powerful music recording industry in 1999. The next year, they made the cover of Time magazine. A year and a half after that, they ended up in bankruptcy court.
The general piece of advice, which is fairly mundane and oft repeated, is: make sure you write a business plan because it will crystallize your thoughts to communicate your ideas with somebody else. Make sure that once you have written your business plan, you have somebody read and critique it and ask you questions.