This column is by Cory Levy, Co-Founder & COO, After School
Businesses are created to solve problems.
The problem you want to solve when starting a company serves as the foundation you build all of your product and service ideas on. Your goal is to create the best solution for the problem you want to solve.
In school, we’re trained for instant feedback and results. Life is much different. Starting a company, executing on a vision, and solving hard problems are much different. These things take time.
Imagine that your problem is a dartboard. You create better and better darts and take different approaches until one hits the bullseye — solving that problem in the best way possible for your target market.
But what happens when your startup misses? Let’s say your “solution” doesn’t even hit the dartboard. Most people would give up, which is why most people aren’t entrepreneurs and most startups fail.
First, ask about yourself and your team the following questions:
- Do you really want to be successful and to build a business?
- Do you really want to solve the problem you set out to solve?
- Do you constantly think about the problem and are motivated to solve it?
If so, don’t give up! You need to keep grinding. I call this aggressive patience.
For example, our company, which is now After School, started in 2011 with the goal of enabling the world’s communication to create a positive and measurable social impact. Our team bought into this goal and committed ourselves to finding the best way to make it a reality.
Our first product aimed to connect strangers in a close proximity with each other based on mutual interests. There were dozens of iterations we made during this time and we simultaneously worked on other products all focused on solving that same original problem. We had some employees leave for other companies and times when it was tough, but we stayed committed and remained patient while aggressively trying to accomplish our primary goal. This eventually led to the creation of After School, which is now the largest teen social network in the U.S.
We have yet to accomplish our goal of enabling all of the world’s communication, but our aggressive patience led us to where we are now and will continue to be a concept we embrace as we continue to grow.
So if you create an app and don’t get any users or design a product that’s being left on shelves, be patient enough to give your company a chance to succeed, and aggressive enough to overcome all of the obstacles that will come your way.
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