What Separates Startup Men from Poys [The P word]

In order to transition from a startup to SME, the first step you need to ensure is to do less and less of hand-holding (of customers and even employees). But your customers/channel partners expect the same level of efficiency and attention as earlier. But before we discuss the ‘P’ part, lets talk about some of the successful companies and what’s common across them

– Think about it – why was Digg so popular a few years back? Because you were pretty sure that you will find the most interesting piece of technology news there [though finding interesting news has become more social/democratic now, thanks to Facebook/Twitter].

– Why is Techmeme the homepage for most of technology news hungry readers/bloggers. Because, there is a certain trust (built over a period of time) that if the news is worth it, you will surely find it on Techmeme (in short, it saves time as you don’t have to go through so many sites).

– Why is HackerNews the homepage of geeks/hackers? Same as Techmeme, i.e. if an article is worth it, you will surely find it on HN. That is, predictability of trustworthy content (which is mostly startup/tech related), which otherwise is difficult to find.predictability

– Why so many people hate ToI (TimesoffIndia) newspaper, yet read it? Because you know (alright, don’t admit!) that there is a good coverage of local news, apart from national news (spiced up with page 3 celebrities and bikini babes). In short, there is a certain predictability of ToI’s coverage (which goes with your taste).

Why do we spend so much of money on security features/services? Right from computer (anti virus) to your car (anti theft), though probability of a mishap is always 50:50 (if it has to happen, it will happen).

The key here is Predictability. People pay for predictability. Predictability of a system, irrespective of the company, founding team, employees.

That is, the P word stands for

  • Predictability – of the system, process and eventually, delivery.
  • Process, which drives the predictability factor.

Why is Predictability of Your Service So Damn Important?

Because Predictability builds trust. Predictability builds loyalty. Your audience knows exactly why they read your blog, use your product, subscribe to your business services.

And predictability is not always frontend – it needs another P, i.e. Process discipline.

Think about it – Why is Flipkart able to scale up so fast? Because they have cracked the offline/delivery process and over a period of time, the system has built an element of predictability its customers are aware of (and appreciate).

As a startup, you have arrived when your product has a certain predictability built to it. That is, the system isn’t dependent on you, Mr. founder.

And predictability is a function of attributes of your offering (Flipkart: shipping/delivery. iXigo:cheapest tickets, Cleartrip:UX etc etc).

Say you run Pluggd.in, how do you build predictability? Is predictability in the number of posts? Depth? Breadth of coverage?

Answer this for your startup offering. Write down 5 different attributes of your service where you want to bring predictability.

And do remember that predictability also brings boredom – so break free.

What’s your opinion?

Image credit: {Guerrilla Futures | Jason Tester}

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