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Now is the time to bring your business idea to life

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It may not seem like a sensible idea to be launching a business during a global pandemic, but if you get the fundamentals right, you can reap the rewards.

 

There’s a global pandemic affecting the way we live and work. Economists predict a recession like nothing we’ve seen in our lifetime. It may not seem like the best time to start a business, innovate your existing product, invest, or hire staff. But, some things don’t change. If you can get the basics of business right, you have as good a chance of success as someone who launches during an economic boom. There are numerous examples from history to show us the way.

In this article, the first in a series of pieces on the potential opportunities you can find in times of disruption, we’re going to look at launching a business. It’s something I feel I’m qualified to talk about because I’m actually doing it! Starting LemonTree was long in the planning. By the time the pandemic hit, we were already a long way down the road to launching. But, we’re optimistic and confident, and I want to share with you the reasons why.

Change brings opportunity 

The first reason why it’s not necessarily a bad thing to start a business during a global pandemic and recession is that change brings opportunity. In a situation like this one, everyone is disrupted. Many established players are looking backward and trying to hold on to their current position – they’re trimming headcounts and cutting back on marketing. This leaves a gap for new companies that can move quickly and nimbly, with innovative ideas and new ways of working. Potential clients, who are also looking at how they serve their customer base, may see challenges with their offering. If their suppliers put in them in a situation where they cannot maintain a competitive edge, they need to look elsewhere. That’s when they switch to new businesses.

Secondly, in a business environment when everyone is focusing on the downsides, a new company that enters the market with confidence and positivity is seen as refreshing. They bring new ways to address old problems. Potential clients like that - there is value for them in being the first mover.

Next, there are numerous examples from the past of businesses that have launched into turbulent situations and emerged triumphantly:

●      General Motors was founded in 1908, during the aftermath of the ‘Panic of 1907’.

●      Microsoft started during the oil crisis of the mid-1970s.

●      Uber, Groupon, WhatsApp, and Airbnb all launched during the 2008-9 financial crisis.

These companies managed to survive because they had the fundamentals right. Those never change, no matter when you launch. 

Get the basics right

When you do your initial planning for your launch, you will have answered questions similar to these below. If starting a business was worth pursuing, then, it still is now. The factors to launch do not change - pandemic or no pandemic.

  • What is your target category?

    • Which industry will you operate in? Where is your specific focus?

  • Who is your target customer?

    • Remember, you sell to people, not businesses. Create an ideal customer persona to bring them to life.

  • What is your ideal customer’s pain point?

    • Use data to create an insight into the pain point (e.g. 31% of companies are planning to introduce a digital transformation initiative in the next year). Tie several data points together to uncover a new perspective or take a fresh look at an old problem.

  • What is your functional solution?

    • You should be able to sum this up in two sentences. Its amazing how often I hear people needing 10 mins just to explain what they do.

  • How will you position your company in your sector?

    • What makes you different? – Nike and Adidas both sell sports shoes, but feel like completely different brands.

  • How distinctive is your brand?

    • Can you tell it apart from your competitors from 20 feet away?

    • This isn’t a metaphor.

    • Print out your respective branding and put it 20 feet away!

  • What is your core communication message?

    • Be simple, consistent, and single-minded.

Our take 

When we were doing the research and planning that resulted in us starting LemonTree, we answered all those questions. We saw that while digital transformation is important now, it will become an even greater influence in the future. This would require faster, more agile responses. Coupled with the knowledge that the existing systems on which many financial services are built, even the supposed industry leaders, aren't fit for purpose. There wan an opportunity to create a new development platform for the complex back and middle-end technology the financial services industry demands. So, we went all in.

Sure, COVID-19 happened, but it doesn’t close that gap in the financial service software market. If anything, it makes the opportunity even more significant.

There have been a few twists and turns on the way. I’m sure there will be more. But, you have to adapt. We knew that launching a start-up would mean making quick decisions and changing things quickly.

How about you?

If you have a business idea that you think is worth pursuing, don’t let the current situation stop you from doing it. Let’s be honest; if you’re waiting for the perfect moment, you’ll probably be waiting forever. If you want to make a difference, it’s time to make the leap.

If you have the fundamentals in place, you can be a success.

I'd love to hear your perspective.

 

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Jamie Nascimento

Jamie Nascimento

Chief Commercial Officer

LemonTree Software

Member since

17 Jun 2020

Location

Utrecht

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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Innovation in Financial Services

A discussion of trends in innovation management within financial institutions, and the key processes, technology and cultural shifts driving innovation.


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