With keeping in mind the three key items used to create a successful start-up; a start-up venture like social-medicine.org is likely to succeed:
- A start-up requires good people and efforts taken to network,
- A start-up should fill a gap in the market that isn’t already filled and provide a niche service, to people knowing what they want, and make them aware of what they need
- A start-up requires as little money spent as possible
And that’s not to say that achieving all three key items isn’t challenging. It’s achievable but believe me it’s difficult.
The idea for a start-up is only the beginning. The entrepreneur needs to have a passion for their start-up. Passion comes from the inside, something that is personal to the entrepreneur. Their passion needs to be strong enough knowing that other’s will be judgmental of their idea, and knowing to stand their ground when push comes to shove.
As a psoriasis sufferer I know first-hand how hard it can be to deal with an illness without that all-essential support from people who truly understand.
After spending years managing my condition alone, I turned to the Internet for help. The sheer number of forums, blogs, and communities out there in which psoriasis was discussed by fellow sufferers was astonishing, but I found that it wasn’t a personal experience.
So I decided to create a site to personalise an individual’s experience and developed www.psoriasissocial.org. My simple goal was to give psoriasis sufferers a voice, a sounding-board, and a close-knit, supportive community of people who understood what it was like to live with the condition.
Psoriasissocial.org took off with a speed that surprised me – in a short period of time around 400 people registered and began to get to know each other. In fact, it’s been such a success that it was the main reason I created www.social-medicine.org. A site for those who suffer from a range of illnesses and conditions, a wonderful community driven support network, an avenue for not-for-profit organisations who may like to reach out to people via this forum or support its development.
Every start-up should provide better technology than people currently know of. When people hear the words social networking, they think of Facebook, a site everyone knows how to use. For that reason I chose a Facebook style technology, a familiar social network for the medical community.
The plan needs to be sticky. Changing the plan needs to be justifiable. A vision needs to be set as to where the start-up will end up. The initial plan is almost certain to be wrong in some way, and the first priority should be to figure out where it is wrong. The only way to find out where your plan is wrong is to implement the plan.
Like most start-ups, plans change on the fly. At first I expected the customers to be savvy internet users. Introducing a social network that is too difficult or too easy to use, would deter the users away.
One startup, one person, was social-medicine.org’s plan. Having one moral weight was ideal to set the plan but difficult at the same time. Knowing who to talk to and where to source information from requires good people. The social-medicine.org start-up was through personal contacts that got most of the people interested. This is a crucial difference between start-ups and big companies. Knowing someone for a couple days will tell you more than companies would with greater budgets.
With a technical and business background, I believe I had a good feel for what people want and how to derive to what they want through technology. The start-up requires being unique and in high demand not just another me-too solution.
So, how did I figure out what customers want? I watched them. One of the best places to do this was at medical forums.
The way to reduce expenses is to maximize the start-up’s chances of succeeding. During the seed stage, I think it’s wise to take money from investors, non-profit organisations advertising on the website. Investors don’t expect you to have an elaborate business plan. Seed money is known for emptying out a few tens of thousands of dollars to pay expenses, while developing a prototype.
When initialising the start-up, there are various cost categories to consider:
- Research fees
- Technology costs
- Administrative costs
- Marketing costs
Once the start-up is set, it may seem presumptuous to go knocking on the doors of potential investors and asking them to invest tens of thousands of dollars in something that is really just an idea. But when you look at it from the investor’s point of view, the picture shows more light. Investors look for good investments, and if you think you have a chance of succeeding, you’re doing them a favour by letting them invest.
Many start-ups get big fast. When real money starts flooding in from investors, the questions lies with what to do with it? And the answer is not to spend it, or spend it very wisely.
The key to success is knowing your start-up inside and out. The most important factor is placing users before advertisers, even though the advertisers are paying clients. By understanding that getting all the users to the site, the advertisers will follow, will prove success.
By being professional in the start-up means doing good work, not elevators and glass walls. Everyone loves the underdog and look up to those who rose from rags to riches.
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