7 things you can learn from the Entrepreneur of the year 2012

Date/time [ 20-12-2012 11:32 ]

Limor 'Ladyada' Fried, known for her open-source hardware company Adafruit Industries, was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year by Entrepreneur Magazine. Read on for a short summary of the things we can learn from Ladyada:

Who is Limor 'Ladyada' Fried?

Limor Fried is founder and owner of the DIY electronics company called 'Adafruit', which she started from her MIT dormroom. She is one of the driving forces behind the open-source hardware community, a group of motivated engineers, creating inventive things out of every-day components and scraps.

This year she is awarded 'Entrepreneur of the year' by Entrepreneur Magazine. Upon receiving the award, she was quoted as saying: If there's one thing I'd like to see from this — it would be for some kid say to themselves "I could do that" and start the journey to becoming an engineer and entrepreneur.

Her eye-catching vivid-pink locks are just one of the reasons Fried is hard not to noticed. But more importantly, she is applying several effective strategies that have proven to be 'fruitful'. We will highlight 7 of those, so you can transform and apply them in your own business.

1: Focus on helping your customers

The old model of doing business is this: make a product, shout about it as loud as you can, and hope people will buy it.

In this information rich age this does not work any longer. People have access to so many resources. Why would they check out what you have to offer? Know that people are using the internet to find information about the things they already like.

Fried is using her knowledge and experience to teach about electronics to her interested audience. By doing this, you get noticed by the right people who would love to buy your stuff, simply because it helps them do what they like. No need to shout about it. When you truly help your target audience, they will buy from you.

In this case, people literally started asking for products they could buy, only after she showed how to make them.

2: Market to your target audience

In line with the previous strategy, Adafruit clearly defined their target audience, and markets exclusively to them. No blanket statements, one-size-fits-all or something-for-everybody attempts.

This allows you to minimize your marketing efforts, while increasing it's effectiveness. It is many times more effective to sell to somebody that loves your offering, than to someone that doesn't even know you or has no interest in what you do.

3: There is no competition

The products and services that Adafruit offers are not unique on their own. You can buy components elsewhere. What makes it unique is the combination of education, the equipment and components. Even though you can get all of that separately from different vendors, most people won't. The offering is complete, and unique.

Because of this, there is no competition. This brings Adafruit many advantages: Without competition, you don't need to compete for price, shout the loudest, or apply other aging business strategies.

4: Make it fun -- Badges

Gamification was the buzzword of 2012. In short, it means making 'everything' a game, even processes that traditionally are not seen as such: business processes, learning, chores. Adafruit does this in the form of 'badges'. Parents can give their kids the 'Learn to solder'-badge, after completing their first project. Or, the 'Multi Meter Master'-badge after learning how to operate a multi-meter.

Offering small rewards, often in the form of collectibles, provide a perpetual motivation to keep going and make progress in little steps.

It also doesn't hurt to know that people are much more likely to spend their hard earned money on things that are fun, and that they 'like', than on practical items that they 'need'.

5: Be in it for the fun, not the money

Ada studied at MIT, and started out her business from her dorm-room. She liked to use the skills she learned in class by creating real 'stuff' like MP3 players, synthesizers and gadgets from scrap metal and gathered components.

This personal interest is what drives Adafruit to be such a successful company. The enthusiasm shows and inspires new people to join this army of creators, inventors and innovators. The fact that Adafruit has become a multi-milion dollar company is just an effect, not the cause.

6: Stay lean while bootstrapping

Even though Adafruit now has a yearly turn-over of 10 Million dollars and has doubled their revenue for the past years, the team has remained small and lean during it's start-up phase. Only last year did the team grow to 50 people, mostly to keep up with demand for shipping units.

Staying lean during your bootstrap phase will keep you focused on what is important, and makes you find creative and efficient ways of dealing with complex issues.

Investing in this early on will allow you to scale better once your company does become successful.

7: Don't compromise on quality

In the internet age, you can not afford to make cheap but brittle products. Adafruit is know for their high quality components. Even third-party components need to acquire a 'seal of approval' before they can be used in kits or sold through their website. And when something is wrong with the product, support handles these exceptions smoothly.

This high standard of quality resonates among it's vocal customer base. Providing anything less would reverse the effect.

Much more to learn...

There are many more things to learn from this excellent example of Rockstar Entrepreneur mentality. Check out more resources about this company, and tell us what you've learnt, and are willing to apply in your rockstar company! We are looking forward to your insights:

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