Getting a startup off the ground is hard work. Growing a startup is even harder. With the right energy, momentum and product, it’s possible. In today’s article, I’ll look at 7 easy tips to ensure your fledgling business has the best possible chance of success.
1. Get Out of the Building
As early as possible, startup founders need to get out the building and speak to potential customers and influencers. Try to work out if your product solves a problem. Your first 100 customers are often the hardest to find. A great way of making them feel part of your startup is to engage at every single opportunity. Almost make your ‘early adopters’ emotionally feel they have ownership in your product. It pays to get out of the building and learn.
2. Don’t Launch Too Late
As a wise entrepreneur once said, ‘‘If you’re not embarrassed of the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.’’ You’re not going to have the complete product on day one. This shouldn’t stop you from launching with some of your early adopters, who will understand that you’re a new venture. Afterall, there is no point building version ten before you work out whether customers feel they are benefitting in their lives from version one. The quicker you are out of the door, the quicker you can get that all important feedback.
3. Listen and Learn
Listening is one of the most underrated qualities an entrepreneur can possess. Once you’ve got your minimum viable product out of the door, listen and learn. Note down every single support request, feedback and face-to-face interaction. You can never learn enough from your customers and by listening, you can use their feedback to better the product or service you are working on.
4. Give, Give, Give Then Take
As part of your startup marketing strategy, it will be incredibly important to network and build key relationships with influencers. Attend relevant meetups and networking events, and participate in the conversation on social networks. The golden rule is to ‘‘give, give, give then take.’’ Don’t try to marry before the first date. By providing value and gratitude, you’ll reap the rewards of enhanced coverage of your product. Help out that journalist with some research. Make intros to relevant bloggers. There are so many ways of providing value and giving, before you throw out that right hook by asking for a favor. It pays to play the long game.
5. Ride the Hashtag
Twitter is one of the most powerful and fast ways to build relationships with key influencers. Use the search functionality on Twitter to search for relevant hashtags in your niche. It’s a great way to listen and dive in to relevant conversations. Treat Twitter as a cocktail party and behave online as you would do face-to-face. It’s important to be native, and not just use the platform to sell your business at every opportunity.
6. Experiment with Your Marketing Budget
There are multiple marketing channels available to you. Never has it been so easy to test customer acquisition online. Facebook, Twitter, Google AdWords and LinkedIn have affordable paid channels, where you can run tests from as little as $10. I’m a firm believer in split testing and throwing paint on the wall to learn which one sticks. Create conversion optimized landing pages, the right calls to action and start testing.
7. Solve a Big Problem
Ultimately, your product has to rock and add value to your potential customer base. Constantly question whether your product is solving a real problem and how you differentiate yourself from the competition. Products that add value are easily shareable, and create powerful word of mouth.
Good luck, and prepare for the exhilarating ups and downs! Life as an entrepreneur is tough but tremendously rewarding.