Home For Startups, Timing Trends Really Does Matter – Except When It Doesn’t

For Startups, Timing Trends Really Does Matter – Except When It Doesn’t

Now is the best time in history to start your own business. But depending on what kind of company you’re building, you have to figure out if your idea is poised to capture a trend—or doomed to miss one and face a much tougher road to success.

To learn about the impact of properly timing a trend—or of missing one—we asked 8 successful young entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) for their experiences. And we also got their advice on how to perfectly time your business:

1. Missed Opportunities Open New Doors

It was 2011 when we started building a platform for social media. By then, Buddy Media had already raised over $90 million, Wildfire announced that they had over 10,000 customers, and companies like Vitrue and Involver were the industry titans. Some potential investors told us we were late to the party. However, in hindsight, and especially in light of all of the recent acquisitions of the aforementioned, I believe we had a core advantage to really plug into the “second wave” of social, which has the potential to be even more disruptive than the first. We were able to speak to people who were already using a social media platform and figure out what needs still weren’t being met. By staying small and nimble, we were able to quickly adapt to the rapidly changing landscape of social media. —Abby Ross, Blueye Creative

2. Revisit Past Failures

There’s no lack of ideas that were “before their time.” Many business models that failed in the early 2000s are now incredibly successful because now, the timing is right, the technology is here, and it’s easier than ever before to achieve scale. As an example, my company SitePoint tried selling ebooks back in 2000 and no one bought into it. It was a complete and utter disaster and forced us to print and ship physical books—which sold like hotcakes. The reason is simple, people were still getting used to the idea of shopping online, and paying for digital goods was still a foreign concept to many. Fast forward a few years, with the iTunes revolution, Kindle and iPad, and all of a sudden, ebook sales are trending sharply upward every year. —Matt Mickiewicz, Flippa and 99designs

3. Some Ideas Transcend Timing & Trends

Timing is everything—if your idea is reliant on time. If you want to create a flash valuation or raise a certain amount of money quickly, then it’s of utmost importance. And it’s important for tech in general. But I believe that there are other ideas—rooted in timeless truths—that are not restricted to a certain epoch or Zeitgeist. If your idea is rooted in one of these things, then timing is far less important. If you’re a social entrepreneur fighting for human dignity in a particular area, for example, then it’s less critical whether you start today or tomorrow. My personal view is that I want to be involved with an organization that I believe will be important a thousand years from now. If I find an idea worthy of that standard, then I know it’s rooted in something essential. —Luke Burgis, ActivPrayer

4. Timing Boosts Your Success Potential

Bad Idea + Wrong Time = Biggest Failure Ever. Bad Idea + Right Time = Total Failure. Good Idea + Wrong Time = Likely Failure. Good Idea + Right Time = Best Chance of Success. Timing is essential. A business can come to market before people are truly ready or after too many market leaders have established footing for you to truly get through the door, but in the end, I still think that a phenomenal idea that is well-executed can survive average or even poor timing. For example, last year, I would have said that the app Path was too late to the social media market, but the company has executed the business in such an amazing way that it no longer matters that it followed Twitter and Facebook. Path scratches an itch that those networks don’t, and it does it so well that it is growing like crazy. —Shaun King, HopeMob

5. Start Your Own Trend

Timing is not everything. Some people get lucky but, over time, it is the ones who adhere to proven principles and have enough self-knowledge that continuously succeed. Trends come and go; change is constant. So, to paraphrase Gandhi, be the change you wish to see in the world. Great companies start trends and make movements—they don’t follow others, nor are they solely motivated by their greed to take advantage of fickle market whims. Believe in your own ideas, test your ideas, accept that you’re going to fail sometimes – or maybe a lot at first – and do it all in your own authentic style. Too often we focus on trying to “getting it right” within the context of others’ point of view. Rather, we should strive to get it right within our own perspective. —Matthew Ackerson, PetoVera

6. Overnight Successes Don’t Exist

It often takes longer than you expect for an idea to catch on. What that means is that when you’re working on an idea and worried that it’s “too early,” you need to be patient. Grow slowly and conserve cash until the market is truly ready. Many of the best companies start out when only the earliest of adopters are ready for it; with the patience and dedication of learning from those customers, they become prepared for the bigger opportunity that eventually exists. The challenge is keeping your finances tight during that time and seizing every opportunity to grow and learn from the market. Then what you may have been working on for years will suddenly seem like it has the “perfect timing.” —Jason Evanish, Greenhorn Connect

7. Timing Sure Does Help

I wouldnít say that timing is everything, but it certainly helps. I launched Money Crashers at the height of the recession and that certainly was to my benefit in the beginning. This is the way I look at it: If you launch a business based on a fading trend, youíre unlikely to succeed. For example, if you’re looking to start a small business based on the “daily deal website” business model, you may not have much luck. Some daily deal sites still exist, but many are struggling today. On the other hand, if you come up with a product or service that meets a need people didnít know they had, you can create your own market trend. One example of this is a website called Gradsave. With this website, you can create a way for family and friends to contribute to your child’s 529 plan. —Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

8. Don’t Depend On Timing

If you’re depending on timing to ensure that your company is going to make money, you probably don’t have a sustainable business model on your hands. Timing may help, in terms of getting ahead of the competition, but you need to be sure that you’ve got something that can do well even if the timing gets screwed up. There are exceptions, of course, but personally, I wouldn’t want to run a business that is dependent on catching the wave of a particular fad. It’s just not going to provide long-term growth. —Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30+ proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.

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The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

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