Just five years ago, Dina Kaplan co-founded a video sharing platform for independent web shows called Blip.tv. And during these five, short years she watched as her business blossomed from a small niche of professional video bloggers to an online hotspot where thousands of users now host their own TV shows and upload self-produced videos.
Needless to say, Kaplan has learned a tremendous amount about what it takes to make a business flourish. In fact, her website has scaled to 96 million video views per month and payouts to content producers have increased a whopping 77 percent just from quarter one to quarter two of this year.
Below, thanks to Mashable.com, Kaplan has put together five essential business tactics to live by as an entrepreneur.
1. Don’t Try to be All Things to All People
When Blip.tv was just starting out in 2005, according to Kaplan, the company targeted a very specific market. “We didn’t try to be all things to all people,” she explained.
“Blip.tv targeted a group of people who were producing original shows for the web and saw an opportunity to make their experience better. They saw a problem that could be fixed. The market they chose was very small, she said, but one that they knew would grow,” reported Mashable.com.
2. Learn From Your Customers
After establishing a target market, the company continued by studying it. They took the time to get to know key users who were producing original video for blogs.
“It was just a handful of people at that point, and we hung out with them, got beers with them and did a lot of listening to learn exactly what they were looking for in a platform that would host their shows,” Kaplan said.
She told Mashable.com that they listened mostly and then built tools to simplify the efforts of their users. And as her market continued to grow, they continued to listen and then adapted the Blip.tv platform to meet the needs of the video producers.
3. Hire Experts
According to Kaplan, hiring is one of the most important facets of a business. When an enterprise begins, it’s the founders who do it all, but as the company grows it’s vital that experts are called in to handle any difficult projects your business requires. Visit industry events within your area to meet with local professionals in your field.
“Hiring sets up your company to be much larger than yourself,” Kaplan said. “Give it all you got. You will benefit from good recruiting.”
Keep in mind that the reputation and culture of your company is important in hiring, she told Mashable.com. People are conversational by nature and, if your company presents a good work environment and treats its employees well, others will hear about it, she said.
4. Engage and Connect with Your Community
Making connections with your professional community is an essential part of general business. Such efforts can generate leads, partnerships and opportunities that you might not have known were out there.
“Some time should be spent with your ‘head down’ focusing on the product and a good chunk of the time should be spent with your ‘head up’ meeting with people in your industry, communities of professionals, companies and other entrepreneurs,” Kaplan told Mashable.com.
5. Don’t Obsess Over Funding
It’s important not to obsess over company funding at the expense of the product, which Kaplan said is often an unfortunate reality. Business owners, she explained, should focus on product and the market; if the product is a great idea, the money will soon follow.
Step one should focus on developing the product – especially for web businesses – and step two should be revenue or funding, Kaplan told Mashable.com.
“The funding isn’t the scarce resource. The scarce resource is good ideas, and more importantly, good execution,” she said.