5 key startup lessons from hosting a good party

I was at the cinema last week watching Last Vegas. There’s a scene where they throw what can only be described as an awesome party. Everyone loved it. It got me thinking, hosting a great party and building a great startup aren’t all too dissimilar. Obviously the scale and effort required to build a startup is completely different, but the process and lessons learned are there. Think I’m crazy? Well have a read:

1. Know what your guests/customers want

This is so fundamental yet gets consistently ignored. Focus on what the people you’re hosting/helping want, not what you want or what you think they want. After all, you are hosting/helping them.

And if you don’t know what they want, then just ask. Believe me, there’s nothing worse than putting in so much effort to find out that your assumptions are all wrong and no one really likes nor cares for either a) what you wanted nor b) what you thought they wanted.

2. Revolve everything around your value proposition

Adding shiny new features to your product which doesn’t focus on your value proposition (the problem that you’re helping your customers resolve) is like throwing a buffet at a party and expecting that to be the main reason people stay. 95% of people don’t stay at the party for the buffet! And whilst the buffet might make them happy for an hour, it won’t determine whether that person had a night to remember.

Think about it, the value proposition for parties is that your guests are looking to have fun and you’re looking to provide them with fun. If you’re not absolutely getting that right then everything else doesn’t really matter.

3. Want guests/customers? Go out and tell them!

Simply put, no one is going to know about you nor your party/business if you don’t go out and tell them.

4. Start small, grow big

It’s 9pm and your party has officially started. The first guests knock on the door, your initial evangelists. They’re usually your best mates. They’ll stick through these low times when there’s not many people because they are still having enough fun and they know things are going to get better and better as the night progresses. As the night goes on, they call their friends and they end up coming along, and then from what was just you and your 5 best mates turns into you and 50 people having the best night of their lives. Why? Because it’s grown with people who have mutual commonalities. Imagine dumping 50 random people in a room. Do you reckon it would be an awesome party? It’s all about targeting and growing like-minded people and expanding with the help of these like-minded people.

The same happens for startups. Usually the ones that fail are those that begin by targeting far too many different groups of people. Have a core group of people who are suited the most to what you’re offering – they’re your solid foundation. Once you’ve got that solid foundation, naturally expand from that foundation.

5. Learn how to deal with problems fast

We’ve all been at those parties – everything is going great one minute and then out of nowhere all hell breaks loose, usually something to do with someone having a few too many drinks. Remember though prevention is always better than treatment. Rather than having to sit with that person for (what at least feels like) hours whilst they start sobering up, why didn’t you take that bottle of Sauvignon Blanc they’re wielding and replace it with a pint of water? More to the point, it’s hard not to let dealing with these problems get you down when all you want to do is have fun hosting and entertaining your guests.

It is exactly the same when you’re starting up. One thing you’re certainly going to encounter is problems. Save yourself so much time and energy by preventing problems rather than treating them. However, you can’t prevent every problem. When these problems do arise, deal with them as efficiently and definitively as you possibly can so that you don’t have to spend time resolving these problems again.

Got any more similarities? Post your suggestions in the comment section.


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