“How to Launch Your Startup Friction-free” by Gretchen Hicks
Friction has ended thousands of brands, firms, and companies, and startups typically tend to struggle with it more than most. Whether it’s lack of planning, overthinking, or simply not catching up to today’s business trends, there are countless ways to intensify it, but fortunately, many ways to counter-act it from the get-go.
Today we’ll talk about launching a frictionless startup, things that you should consider, and steps you may want to take to negate friction as much as possible.
What Friction Means in the Business World
In physics, friction is the resistance that one object encounters while moving over the other. It has a relatively similar meaning in business slang; it’s essentially the resistance that customers and consumers have while encountering various products on the market.
Factors Affecting “Friction” and Ways to Eliminate It
The factors that increase friction are various, and it’s important to address each and every one to eliminate it. Let’s start from the top.
Being fresh on the market means that a startup needs to prove that it’s authentic and different from thousands of similar brands. Unfortunately, many companies have fallen into the trap of creating an amazing, unique product but marketing it poorly (or improperly).
Through marketing, customers and consumers are becoming familiar with your startup and your product. However, the ‘initial stages of friction occur when customers know nothing or very little about your startup’s goals, mission, and catalogue. So making sure that this doesn’t happen should be on top of your list.
Tweaking the Product to Fit the Needs of Consumers
Coinciding with the earliest stages of marketing is the phenomenon of supply and demand. If customers know about your startup but don’t consider it relevant, important, or needed, the venture is likely to fail due to friction – consumers will be reluctant to try a product if they could satisfy their needs through more familiar means.
Given that most startups create prototypes, field testing, market research, and customer feedback are essential to tweak your startup’s product to fit the needs of the consumers.
Newness, Uniqueness, and Relevancy of Your Startup’s Product
Even some of the world’s most renowned business analysts could not predict the outcome of startups that became the world’s biggest game-changers, such as Microsoft or Honda, for instance.
Another critical element that heavily influences the friction between customers and new startups is the newness and relevancy of the product. For example, skateboards were somewhat similar to rollerblades; motorbikes were relatively similar to bicycles. On the other hand, hoverboards were a bit too ‘new’ to the market, which is why the concept garnered less attention than expected.
Consumers will always be more comfortable and open to trying a product resembling brands with big, familiar names. That’s the reason why so many versions of soft drinks, snacks, and cars exist.
If your startup’s product is too unique and new, it could be dismissed as irrelevant and ‘experimental.’ Once again, it’s important to market it properly and ensure that consumers are familiar with its properties, intended use, and the reason why they should consider giving it a try.
Customer Support and Chain of Information
Once you’ve piqued the interest of consumers, they will be likely to want to know more about your product or service. So you should expect all kinds of questions, and you should also expect your customer support staff not to be able to provide an answer to each one.
Friction becomes a problem when customers need to climb the ‘ladder’ of information by speaking to in-house cashiers, customer support teams, managers, and so on. The further they need to go, the higher their resistance towards repurchasing your product will be.
Availability of Product
The label ‘out of stock’ shows that the brand is honest, but it also frustrates and can turn potential customers away from your startup.
Given that most startups struggle to accumulate funds during the first few years of operation, it’s remarkably risky, if not even counter-intuitive, to drain what’s left of your budget into manufacturing simply to address a single cause of friction.
There are many ways to mitigate friction caused by the unavailability of products. Limited-time sales, giveaways, exclusive events, and similar actions are likely to appease customers who can’t immediately purchase your product. However, you may want to consider updating consumers on the recent news regarding when it will be available again just to be safe.
Utilities and Friction
‘Utilities’ in this particular case refer to various elements that are commonly causing friction. They are typically lower in terms of intensity but far more common. Unfortunately, these ‘elements’ are easily overlooked. They could be anything from small parking lots, long delivery times; customers put on hold for too long, clogged toilets, and similar day-to-day mishaps.
A blanket solution to these problems does not exist, as different situations will beset other companies daily, weekly, and monthly.
Many startup firms have managed to see their company through the aforementioned steps, only to become too complacent, forgetting that eliminating and mitigating friction is a perpetual task.
Fortunately, hiring reliable managers and motivating your employees will ensure that menial day-to-day tasks and problems are dealt with.
The customer is and will always be right. However, one of the most impactful friction elements is customer and client satisfaction, and your team needs to be fully aware of mistakes consumers are pointing out.
Luckily, most customers today use reviewing platforms to voice their opinions on products and companies, so you should make it your priority to scan relevant platforms continually.
Your startup’s customer support team plays a crucial role in determining potential issues and problems regarding customer dissatisfaction with certain aspects of your brand and product. Again, you’ll need reliable managers who can handle your staff and provide precise reports to take relevant actions.
It’s also important to retain integrity, especially for startups on the verge of a ground-breaking invention. Catering to the customers may be paramount, but so is the entrepreneurial spirit.
We hope that this guide was helpful to you and that you have learned something new today on launching a startup without friction. Please make sure you stay safe in these times we are all going through, and have a good one!