Ten Building Blocks to a Successful Software Business

By Andrew Timms, Paessler AG

According to Forrester, the global tech market will grow 5.3 percent in 2015 and up to 5.9 percent in 2016. Yet as any new software businesses entering the market would know, it is not always smooth sailing and getting started in the industry can present a number of common challenges. In particular, competition, costs and the struggle to find the right market niche are all threats to long-term success.

To rise from a small start-up to a thriving multi-national software company, organisations should adhere to the following basic ten-step formula.

  1. Evaluate the market need. Identify the key opportunities and challenges within the industry. An important but often-ignored question when beginning any new business is – ‘Does the product meet a consumer need?’ If the answer is no, it may be time to reconsider entering the market.   
  2. Go online. It should go without saying that no successful business can operate without an informative and interactive website with full e-commerce functions to meet consumer demand. Consider an external provider that can handle billing, credit cards, and tax rules to focus on developing an easy-to-use and engaging website.
  3. Invest in SEO. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a best friend for any business new to a market as it helps build brand exposure. The right SEO and search engine marketing (SEM) strategies will ensure interested parties can quickly find your product, which is especially important in highly competitive industries with limited product differentiation. For those companies lacking the time or resources to focus on SEO and SEM, it may be worthwhile looking for a reliable third party to do the groundwork for you. If SEM has been implemented, but the business isn’t attracting customers, it is time to reassess the product offering.
  4. Skip the tradeshow. Going to a tradeshow that is dominated by the big industry players is a futile exercise when starting out, as smaller companies tend to get lost in the noise. The budget will be better spent on refining the product and/or website.
  5. Flesh out your marketing strategy. Focus on promoting the core features of the product via marketing communications, media relations and social media. Sales and tech support teams in particular need to recognise that they are brand ambassadors. In return for providing great service, customers will be happy to help your company’s support teams with error analysis or beta tests that will ultimately help you to build a better product.
  6. Expand the business. Once the local market is saturated and your rollouts perform flawlessly, it’s time to reach out to APEC, EMEA and the Americas in order to expand into different markets. To get there, you will need specialist business development managers who understand their target countries and know the best outlets to pursue.
  7. Localise your offering. The software should be designed from the outset to handle multiple language translations so it can be adapted to a myriad of local markets. If this wasn’t built-in to the program in advance, then you either need to scrap localisation or spend a lot of money in re-development.
  8. Expand the channel. Market your software through distributors and even resellers. Such programs should be formalised, with proper agreements, a retailer network, and an established partner program. If you can hire additional staff, then regional channel managers can be invaluable for driving growth.
  9. Hit the tradeshow. At this point in the company lifecycle, you should have the press contacts and resellers in place to drive attendance at industry events. You are a known entity, and you need events to drum up interest in your newest partners or major updates.
  10. Branch out.If you feel local representation would boost customer satisfaction and sales, then consider branch offices. You might already have channel managers in different regions, so simply add some back office and support staff for a complete local office solution.

These guidelines of course may not necessarily work for all in sequential order, but following a natural progression will keep your software business on the right track towards long-term growth.

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