Home Advice For The Young At Heart There Has Never Been A Better Time To Fail Fast Or Win...

There Has Never Been A Better Time To Fail Fast Or Win Big


by Bernhard Schroeder, author of “Fail Fast or Win Big: The Start-Up Plan for Starting Now” 


If you have ambitions about creating a startup, then do it now. Why? There has never been a better time. With new online technology, lean resources (think food cart/truck versus restaurant), cloud everything, you can “test” an idea with low risk and not too much money. If you are good at something today, then if you happen to fail, you go back to doing your day job. If you win big, it’s not a problem. Will you have a day job your whole life?

The keys to moving fast are to know a few basics even if you have no idea today for a startup company. Here is what I believe might be three things to make you think, and perhaps do:

Know the Major Customer Groups.

Do you look at large customer segments? Do you even know who they are?   Millennials will number more than 80 million by 2025, in the United States; that’s three out of every four employees in the workplace. There are about 78 million baby boomers and they feel they are not going to die. They will, of course, but in the meantime, this large customer segment is changing and helping to create several new industries. Whether its fitness, health food, financial services, automotive luxuries, technology, or home automation/monitoring, they are having a huge impact on several marketplaces right now. And they will continue to do so for the next 10 to 15 years. What do you know about them? If you spent some time studying either the baby boomers or the millennials, you will begin to see trends forming across this customer segment and into several industries. Then you can begin to analyze what new products or services these groups are going to want to consume.

Industries Changing and Emerging.

For an entrepreneur, there is always opportunity. You just need to look at something hard enough. But as you look for opportunity, you need to look for gaps in the marketplace. Then you look for major gaps where one of two things might be happening: (1) the marketplace is shifting due to industry players; or (2) customer wants are changing and no one is noticing just yet.

When you see a new product enter the marketplace, look beyond the initial product and ask yourself what accessories, add-ons, applications, and complementary products or services might be driven by this core product. If you had noticed smartphones in the early 2000s, would you have seen those icons on the displays? Would you have stared at those icons and said, “What are mobile applications?” Would you have noticed the early, clumsy-looking protective cases? For that matter, would you have guessed that people might someday do their daily fitness run with a device strapped to their arms?

You can apply this type of analysis or thinking to every new product or service you see enter a marketplace that you might care about. Almost all new products or services will have a relatively small impact at first (even the first Apple iPod was not considered to be successful in its first year). But some of these products will create entirely new industry segments—and therein lays tremendous opportunity.

The Perfect Storm… Trends Crossing Customers and Industries.

The holy grail of opportunity is uncovered when a major shift occurs across a large target population and simultaneously that same trend is changing or impacting a large industry. For example, think of the demographic of 16 to 30-year-olds consuming content on their laptop computers and at the same time as the distribution of content is dramatically shifting.   Enter Netflix.

Think of those previously mentioned 78 million baby boomers buying pets to replace their college-age children and the simultaneous changes to the pet industry—pet health insurance, pet-tracking devices, organic FDA-approved dog food, dog-walking/sitting services for condo owners, new types of kennel services. These are times when customer developments and industry changes coincide.

All kinds of opportunities exist for a host of new companies. Consider that next largest segment of the U.S. population, the millennials. Look at the trends they are shaping or are being affected by. Whether it’s music, fashion, technology, food, or entertainment, they are disruptors. If the current companies in these marketplaces don’t step up and listen to this large group of customers, don’t really understand the impact of their potential trends, then they will be rendered irrelevant. That’s an opportunity for entrepreneurship. Will you jump in? If so, get ready to Fail Fast or Win Big.


Bernhard Schroeder

Bernhard Schroeder is the author of “Fail Fast or Win Big: The Start-Up Plan for Starting Now“. He is also the director at the prestigious Lavin Entrepreneurship Center at San Diego State University. Previously a senior partner at CKS|Partners, the world’s largest integrated marketing communications agency, he has served as a marketing and brand expert for successful start-ups such as Amazon and Yahoo as well as Fortune 100 firms such as Apple, Nike, Kellogg’s, GM, and American Express.