What were you doing eight years ago? On the campus of Harvard University a few students huddled in a dorm room to create a social media platform site which became known as Facebook. From those humble beginnings the site has soared to success making founder Mark Zuckerberg possibly the youngest billionaire in the country. And that’s just the beginning of the story. Recently, Facebook filed for an initial public offering that could put the value of the social media site between $75 and $100 billion –one the biggest U.S. stock-market debuts in history.
So now what was you were doing eight years ago? Don’t you wish your business could someday tell the same entrepreneurial success story? There’s a lot to learn from the Facebook scenario. Here are a few things the company did right that you can put to use in your business.
1. Unique Value Proposition. The founders of Facebook recognized a void in the market and worked to create a solution to that problem. They created a unique way for students to connect and interact with each other. Me too, copy-cat businesses seldom become success stories. To succeed you must find what makes your business unique.
2. Test Your Idea. Facebook started on the Harvard campus and rolled out slowly on other university campuses. This strategy gave them an opportunity to test their concept, work out the glitches and make sure they had the a product the market truly wanted. Many business owners who are excited about their business idea jump too quickly. Because they are excited they believe everyone else will think their idea is amazing. Sadly, often times founders who fail to test the market find that no one is interested in what they have to sell.
3. Get Going and Do it!. “Have no fear of perfection — you’ll never reach it,” said famed artist Salvador Dali. That seems to be something the leadership at Facebook believes. At the Facebook headquarters there is signage that says: “Done is better than perfect.” In other words, you can’t be paralyzed by perfection. Today’s market economy moves quickly and if you waste time over-analyzing everything in countless meetings you may miss your opportunity. Frequently I talk with business owners who tell me what their plans are, but have excuses as to why they aren’t doing it yet. Take a lesson from Facebook and get going. If you don’t — someone else will.
4. Build Your Team and Culture. It takes a team to build a successful, sustainable business enterprise. Facebook attracted some of the best and the brightest, and the company gave its employees the responsibility and authority to make things happen — to be race horses. You have to let go to grow your business. And you must build a culture that attracts talent. Make your business a company where people want to work.
5. Know Your Market. At a time when a lot of social platforms were touting the number of registered users, Facebook recognized it was more important to make sure those users were engaged. So they watched user’s habits. How long did they stay on the site? How were they using it? How many were return visitors? The more information you have about your customers the greater your chances are for success. But many small businesses fail to really know their market. We’ve witnessed a few major brands such as Netflix miss the mark this past year such with their customer base. A large company has a better chance of surviving if it misjudges the market – for a small business a misstep can be fatal.
These are just of a few of the things Facebook did right that helped it soar to success. Are you taking the right steps for growth? Learn from Facebook and perhaps your business will be the next entrepreneurial success story.