The creation of a hit software is an impressive feat — especially because 21.5% of startups across industries fail within their first year of business, while 30% don’t make it past their second. Creating a well-designed product that’s a hit with users takes a lot of hard work, not to mention a little strategy and luck.
But perhaps even more difficult than getting that initial hit is figuring out what to do next.
After all, 50% of startups fail in their fifth year. That number jumps to 70% in year 10. Achieving longevity, it seems, is not as simple as creating one successful software product. You also must be able to navigate where to go from there.
Figuring Out Your Next Big Move
A prosperous future for your company might look very different from that of other software companies. After all, there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for a business’s next steps.
To successfully evolve, you can’t just rely on a broad understanding of where the market is going.
You also should figure out what your customers’ specific needs are and which of those needs aren’t being met that align with your organization’s core expertise.
Of course, having this information is only one part of the process. You have to be able to act on these insights. So, if you lead a software company (or really any company) that has a successful product but are struggling to figure out the business’s next stage of life, here are a few strategies that will put you on the right path:
1. Leave No Stone Unturned.
Trying to accurately identify the next big thing in your industry requires extensive and continuous research, using all the available avenues. In software, those avenues are your customers, industry, employees, and the broader trends associated with current events. Bring in data from each of these sources, and analyze it to see where things are headed and where there are gaps you could fill.
Take SaaS, for instance. Thanks in part to the impacts of the pandemic, the SaaS market is predicted to grow to $716.52 billion by 2028. Is there a niche you can fit into in this growing sector? If so, then aim to fill it. My company, for example, takes a proactive, innovative approach to SaaS in the oil and gas industry. Historically, software in the industry hasn’t been service-based, which is why we’ve focused on that aspect of our product for the past several years.
2. Improve Your Company’s Communication.
Although you might be content with your organization’s current communication methods, you can probably find ways to streamline communication between leaders and employees or facilitate more open discussions between different channels.
Google likens communication to data flow: If data isn’t reaching every interested party, it won’t be as effective as possible. You’ll need Site Reliability Management (SRE).
Put teams together who might not normally communicate to see where they can help one another, testing out different communication methods in the process. If you’re not already, adopt an agile methodology not only for software development, but also for communication improvements. Once you start digging, you’ll find ways to improve the way your organization communicates. This, in turn, leads to the sharing of new ideas and concerns that might have otherwise gone unheard and can push your company forward.
3. Prioritize Longevity Above Growth.
In Japan, a large segment of companies has been in business for more than 100 years. One ingredient to their long-lived success is a focus on continuation above growth. Although these businesses are very different from modern software companies, the underlying lesson shouldn’t be ignored.
And though there’s no question that growth is a crucial part of a software company’s success, it shouldn’t be viewed as the only driving factor for your future actions.
A focus on growth above all else can backfire, leading to burnout and bad decisions within your organization. There’s a reason 70% of all acquisitions fail: When leaders feel pressure to grow for growth’s sake, their focus on results (no matter the cost) isn’t sustainable in the long run. Instead, focus on how you can continue to serve your customers better. This will put you on a path of healthy growth, rather than one where your company’s eyes are too big for its stomach.
4. Make the Future Part of Your Mission Statement.
Your company’s mission statement is more than some nice-sounding words — it represents the beating heart of your organization and its vision. What’s more, mission statements have a direct impact on employee actions. If your statement only reflects past accomplishments, you’re not giving your employees anywhere to go or something to aim for.
As such, your mission statement should reflect where your company is now and where it plans to be in the future.
This will help keep leadership’s eyes on the target and provide your employees with a renewed sense of purpose. That purpose will make your employees 30% more likely to perform better and 54% more likely to stay with your company for more than five years.
Looking to the Future
As difficult as achieving that first success, it can feel like smooth sailing compared to figuring out what to do next.
However, by doing thorough research and keeping sight of what’s truly important to your core business, it’s possible to point yourself in the right direction for success for years to come — and ensure you don’t get lost along the way.
Image Credit: by Mikhail Nilov; Pexels; Thank you!