With companies like Uber, Medium, Squarespace, Dashlane, Zapier, Mailchimp, Postmates and the like bringing in millions of dollars a month, it's easy to get envious. They have it all, they have it now, why can't you?
We see these companies from their highlight reels. We don't see the hours put in to create their MVP, the number of times they were told "no" after a investor pitch, or how they too fell into the same boat of wanting it all right now. The truth is, you cannot let your brand fall victim to this. Comparing your software startup to ones that have been around for years is unfair. It's unfair to the work you're doing and it will set you up to be disappointed.
In building your brand, you'll want to do many things. You'll want multiple offerings, to touch multiple markets, and impact multiple user groups.
Help a specific group of people do something specific. Something that will help change their life, earn their trust, and get you past the first step in building a brand that can stand shoulder to shoulder with those you admire.
If you want to get there, take the steps one at a time. Otherwise you will fall. To put it into perspective, here are the founding years for all of the companies above:
I take criticism very seriously. It's not that I get offended or that I curl up into a ball and cry, but I always think about it deeply. Mostly, because improving on myself and expanding my capabilities is of the utmost importance to me.
Yesterday, my punch talked about a digital marketer who had expressed concerns regarding my website building capabilities around an SEO focused, digital strategy. From my standpoint, it sounded like he inferring I had no idea what SEO was and that it was impossible for me to learn more about it. This is the kinda shit I think deeply about. SEO is important to the web design process, so when someone tells me I'm not good at it, I think about it. Probably more than I should.
I was thinking about it all day. Am I really that lost on SEO? I thought I had a decent understanding of how it worked and how sites should be structured accordingly.
Last night, when I was at a UX event, I told some trusted colleagues what was concerning me (many of whom are in the digital marketing space). By putting these thoughts out there for other people to address, their gravitas was minimized. They didn't seem that bad anymore. Certainly not something to dwell on any longer.
Point being: find a tribe of good people who've got your back. Rebels are nothing without an alliance.
50 years ago, having a car that didn't breakdown as much as the next guy gave a manufacturer an edge.
Would you expect anything less today? No. Products need to work, they need to be easy to understand, and they need to be reliable. You need to be reliable. 24/7.
This doesn't change when entering the realm of software design. Meeting these requirements is not optional, it is expected. I'd say rise up to meet them, but it's almost like telling a runner they need to move their legs in order to participate. They are self-evident.
With me so far? Good. You've got your product working and you are prepared to help users 24/7, now what?
Focus on being irresistible. Craft a story for users to engage with, be fun, be authentic, courageous, and create as much opportunity as possible for your users to be head-over-heels for you. Specifically, head-over-heels for YOU and subsequently, your product.
If you want your software to exceed expectations, build an awesome brand.