This afternoon, I talked with a friend of mine about his web-based startup idea. He has five years of experience running a labor-intensive small business and he’s ready for a change. Naturally, building a web application and using his expertise to improve the industry with his domain experience makes the most sense. We got to talking about the idea, only to realize he had no idea how difficult it is to acquire customers.
I’m beginning to believe more and more startups are really sales and marketing plays. What I mean is that the winners will be the ones that execute the best with regards to customer acquisition. Yes, the product, support, and capitalization are critical, but if customers can’t be signed up and serviced profitably, there isn’t a business (assuming it isn’t a winner-take-all business).
My recommendation is to focus on sales and marketing, especially customer acquisition costs, when determining the viability of a business.