17 Lessons learned after building products for startups - SoluteLabs

17 Lessons learned after building products for startups - SoluteLabs

When you work with startups, learning becomes obvious.

Since our inception, we’ve worked with various startups at their different stages. We’ve worked on everything from validating their business idea for some startups, building powerful MVPs to creating successful products. For some, we’ve only built MVPs, and for others, we’ve helped them reach their first million users.

All of these startup business owners and their way of working has helped us learn various lessons throughout our journey. Let’s quickly share what we’ve learned from startups and what you can learn too.

1. Build to adopt, scale and last

Though this data is quite old, it’s true even today-

90% of startups fail.

The reason may differ, but the success of a startup depends on how customers are ready to adopt the startups’ products or services.

Even if the startups manage to get their early adopters or customers, what matters for startup business owners is to build a business that scales faster and lasts longer.

So, this becomes the first yet most crucial lesson that we’ve learned while building products for startups.

Right from the discovery meetings, we make sure that the product we build should be adoption-ready, scalable, and last longer.

2. Never stop experimenting

Startups learn, evolve, and grow with time. And for that, they keep on experimenting with their business model, products, workforce, and more.

Experiments make them stronger to make better business decisions, and hence, we do the same to build better products.

We test different development approaches, product features, user interfaces, consumer experience elements, and more to ensure that the products we build not only live up to its users’ expectations but even sustain themselves during different business conditions.

We would recommend every business owner learn from this startup lesson that it’s all about how well you do an experiment that helps you make wiser decisions.

3. Speed is success but quality is above all

Before the pandemic, there were three on-demand video streaming leaders- Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney.

But now, there are various local video streaming startups across the world launched within 3 months. Why? To take advantage of the growing need and to become successful.

So, speed matters the most. But that doesn’t mean you want to go ahead with anything and everything.

We learned this biggest lesson while working with almost all of the startups. They come up with a business idea that needs to be launched quickly; otherwise, the benefit of the idea can be taken by someone else in the market.

That doesn’t mean that the product we launch needs to be compromised in terms of its quality. If you launch an app full of bugs, poor navigation, and uninformed users about what to do next after joining the app, there is no point in launching it in the first place.

That’s how we emphasize building the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to test the product idea but with the quality that users would expect from the market leaders.

4. Be agile

You might wonder-

How does being agile become a lesson to be learned?

Isn’t it evident for every business today?

Yes, it is.

But, being agile was not the mantra behind the success of any business a decade ago. Due to the short lifespan of the most failed startups, companies started adopting agile methods everywhere.

So, did we. While working with startups, we learned how customer requirements, preferences, and behavior change without any notice.

Hence, on top of designing and developing products faster, we adopted agile processes to make sure we can quickly modify the existing product and deploy them faster than the competitors.

5. Focus More on ‘customer service’

We love this lesson that every business must learn from startups.

For every business, a customer is everything. But, for startups, customer service is. Everything from the business, funding, and existence of a startup depends on the number of happy customers.

Hence, extra efforts need to be put into ensuring your customers are happy.

But, being a technology company, making our customers happy is slightly different. To make them happy, we need to make their customers happy.

And that’s why we work harder to help our clients deliver better customer service and experience through our products.

6. Keep track of ‘Why’ a customer left you

We invest a lot in attracting, informing, educating, persuading, and delighting customers through multiple marketing activities.

But, what we miss out on is to listen to the customer when it’s required- when they decide to leave us.

When you keep track of why most of your customers leave you, you can make an effective plan to retain them.

That’s how we helped most SaaS-based startups not just retain their customers but even help them become their loyal customers.

Irrespective of your business type and industry, put a strategy in place to listen to your customers for suggestions.

Make sure you never underestimate this startup lesson.

7. Never say ‘No’ to customization

Does your business model suggest you should not go for customization? Think again because today, people love things made personalized to their requirements.

Take any e-commerce site- Amazon, eBay, or Tiffany & Co. Whether it’s a marketplace or an e-commerce site, they showcase products recommended as per your past purchases or browsing history.

That’s what personalization means for their customers.

This was nothing but customization required by those sites.

What if these sites never had such features? It would have been far away from what they are today.

It’s a good lesson never to say ‘No’ to customization because that can improve the way you do business and serve your customers.

8. Learn even from your staff or peers

Startups have small teams that work to achieve a single goal. Hence, they always have open-house discussions to welcome thoughts, ideas, suggestions, or feedback, even from their staff or peers.

That’s what even we implemented after working with startups.

Whether it’s about trying new tech such as Flutter, utilizing different development approaches, or building something new, we encourage even the junior designer or developer to come up with their ideas.

We never know who has the hidden talent of what. And this practice now helps us deliver outstanding products.

9. There is no room for “It isn’t in my JD”

When at a startup, you might have to get your hands dirty. There are no ifs and buts most of the time.

The sheer joy of seeing a company grow from zero cannot be put in words; that’s precisely why you go out of your way to get things done.

So this startup lesson comes with a strong message for the business owners that they should never think or encourage people with such thoughts to limit their work as per the JD.

10. There is no right way

Startups are the guardian angels of those who are hell-bent on breaking the rules. The rules and structures of traditional business setups are meant to be broken here.

Imagine working in a newspaper; you cannot write events that happened on Christmas at a later date.

Time is of the essence here, which is exactly why a structured way of getting things done can be a bit too much for startups.

That’s the case even with tech companies like us. Technologies keep on changing, and so are the consumer needs. So we make sure that we launch the products on time so that our customers don’t miss out on the opportunity to grab the early adopters.

11. Always choose the right resources

Startups are skeptical about their spending initially. They look for excellent services, but they never stop looking at their costs.

But, when it comes to building their product and marketing the same, they never compromise on choosing the right resources.

And that’s how we have been able to work with the startups because they always wanted to work with the team equally excited about their products as they are.

Well, we take pride in that :)

But, on a serious note, this is the biggest lesson to learn from the startups. We never compromise on the people, tools, and technologies that we employ because they will help us build products that would drive millions of customers to our clients.

12. Risk-taking is imperative but only the calculative ones

There are times when you have to jump off a cliff (metaphorically, of course) with the hope that you will not hit a rock in the sea.

The ability to take risks is something you will eventually learn, usually forced to undergo this lesson. Taking risks can bring you unbelievable rewards.

The Kodaks and Blockbusters of the world are examples of well-established businesses that declined to take a risk. The results are there for all to see.

So, that’s another lesson from the startups that helps us take the right amount of risk at the right times. If you try your luck with risks at the most riskier times, you may fail harder.

Just like startups, take calculative risks.

13. Always be open to new ideas

No idea is silly, not even if you want to sell ice to the Eskimos!

Encouraging silly ideas will lead to innovative solutions and new models that might have been wholly ignored earlier.

Who would have thought in the early 2000s that there would come a day when we could hail a cab by pressing a few buttons on a mobile phone?

Leave that, who would have thought that the humble telephone will be replaced by smartphones that will be smarter than the computers of that time.

Well, this is a startup lesson that applies to every business across all industries. No wonder we’ve developed apps with out-of-the-box ideas for our clients across the globe.

14. Quitting is never an option

Did you know that at one point, FedEx had only $5,000 in the bank?

It was staring at closure before it became the behemoth that it is today. It is worth $69 billion today.

You might find yourself on the verge of closing down, but you never know where a stroke of luck can show up from.

Frederick Smith, FedEx’s founder, used the last $5,000 to play Blackjack in the hope that he could use the winnings from it to continue working on his dream. The rest is history.

Even when the startups are at the edge of closing, they never give up. We remember a case where one of our clients was unsure about its funding for the second round. We together worked on the new list of features for the product, and they received significant funding, after upgrading the apps.

A good lesson, though!

15. Unlearn at times

We have been conditioned to think in a certain way.

Years and years of such hardened mental conditioning, through no fault of yours, results in your inability to comprehend things that are beyond it.

Working with startups makes you forget about all of this because you keep learning continuously. You see new ideas, discuss them, hear different perspectives, and guess what? Your mind slowly opens to the possibility of newer things.

This unlearning practice matters the most when you need to look at what can make a difference.

16. Learn what not to do and when

While working with startups, we learned something unique, identifying what not to do and when.

Most of the time, business owners know what to do, which helps them stay informed about where they’re progressing. But, when they know what not to do, they remain alert and prevent mistakes that may hinder their success.

This lesson is a big one for tech companies like us because sometimes, we need to know when it is not recommended to go ahead with a project, choose a particular technology, hire the resources, and more.

That’s how we have carefully picked up our clients and reached the list of top web and mobile app development companies.

17. A little madness is necessary

Startup business owners are mad when it comes to passion, dedication, and ambition. They not only dream about the company they’re building, but they make their every second count of making it a reality.

Hence, this startup lesson becomes the essential one for every business owner. A little madness is necessary to dream what you want to achieve, work harder and smarter for it, and live it.

Karan and I started SoluteLabs, and now we’re more than 35 people on-board who have served __ long-term clients. We’re glad that we both had this madness and would recommend that every business owner have it for its business success.

Learn until you grow, grow until you dream

Startups start small, and they grow big with their own sweet time. But, they never stop growing. That’s what we need to keep learning from them. Learn and learn until you grow, and don’t forget to grow until you dream.

Did you get a chance to work with the startups? What did you learn from them? Please share your learning experience with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

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