Toying around with the idea of starting a company? Worried about things that may go wrong or making the wrong decisions? Did you just start a company but are concerned about how you are doing things? You are not alone, and you definitely are not in unchartered waters.
There are not only many thousands of people just like you who are working on starting their own company or have just launched their company, but there have been thousands of people who were once in your shoes who’ve gone on to grow some wildly successful companies, many of which you probably have heard of or even use on the regular basis.
#Talk to People
It sounds like a given, but a lot of first-time startup founders are actually pretty timid when it comes to putting their ideas out there, either because they don’t want to risk other people stealing them or they fear fellow entrepreneurs will think they’re foolish.
But without talking to people—customers, advisors, experts, potential investors, and the media—you won’t be able to get the feedback you need to make your idea better. The more you talk it through with different types of people, the easier it is to refine it and produce something that will truly resonate with your customers. Your customers’ feedback can help you work through any bugs or imperfections.
You want people to remember your name (be able to recall it). The more readily your name can be recalled, the easier it is for you to expand your reach to users/customers/investors.
In order for a name to be memorable, it should be unambiguous and somehow distinctive. If it sounds like many other names out there, people are not going to recall it (or if they do recall it, they're not going to recall the right one).
So, how do you know if your name is memorable? You don't. That's why you need to test it. Tell people your company name in various contexts (on a website, in an email, in person, on the phone, etc.) — and see if they can recall it a few minutes or a few days later. It takes a bit of work, but it's worth it. The good news is that if your name is not memorable, it'll show up in the data pretty quickly. And, as disheartening is that the name you love just doesn't test well — better to know now than years from now when you have a bunch of equity (emotional and otherwise) invested in it.
What makes a name simple?
- quicker to type-in (especially on mobile)
- easier to spell-out to someone over the phone
- more efficient to include in a tweet (or other “length constrained” channels)
- simpler to come up with a logo for
- less likely to be acronymized or otherwise shortened by others
#Choosing The Right Market
It’s easy for startup founders to believe the whole world will love their products. After all, founders eat, sleep and breathe their products. The reality is that only a small portion of the population is interested in your product.
If you try to market your startup to everyone, you waste both time and money. The key is to identify a niche target market and go after market share aggressively.
How do you choose the right market?
- Market Size – Are you targeting a regional demographic? Female? Children? Age? Know exactly how many potential customers are in your target market.
- Market Wealth – Does this market have the money to spend on your product?
- Market Competition – Is the market saturated? As in, are their many competitors?
- Value Proposition – Is your value proposition unique enough to cut thru the noise?
#Make Customers A High Priority
Though it should go without saying, your customers keep you in business, which means that customer service should be at the top of your priorities. But customers can do more for your business than make purchases. They can also help you to improve your products and services so that your business can thrive. By listening to customer feedback, you too can learn the best ways to improve your products and services to meet your customers' needs.
#Location Still Matters
Even though more businesses are starting out online, your physical location can still be an important factor in the success of your business. If you plan to set up a physical shop, you'll need to go where your target audience is. If you plan to set up an online store, you still need to consider your location, at least for networking and economy purposes.
Here are few questions that can help you decide on the best retail location for your business.
- Is the facility located in an area zoned for your type of business?
- Is the facility large enough for your business? Does it offer room for all the retail, office, storage or workroom space you need?
- Do people you want for customers live nearby? Is the population density of the area sufficient for your sales needs?
- If you choose a location that's relatively remote from your customer base, will you be able to afford the higher advertising expenses?
- Is the facility consistent with the image you'd like to maintain?
- Are neighboring businesses likely to attract customers who will also patronize your business?
- Are there any competitors located close to the facility? If so, can you compete with them successfully?
Startups tend to choose the social media networks they engage on without much strategy. The two most common mistakes are trying to master every network and trying to master certain networks just because the competition is doing it. If all of your competitors are on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you should be too, right? Maybe, but maybe not.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Reddit, Pinterest and now Instagram, are some of the most popular social networks today. All of them can be great content promotion and community building tools, but they all have unique characteristics. Facebook, for example, is typically powered by your existing customers who enjoy visual posts like pictures and video. Twitter, on the other hand, is often powered by potential customers who respond well to links (e.g. blog links).
Each social network ‘works’ differently, as in, how the community takes, interprets and digests your sharing and content varies. Reddit is often referred to as a very guarded network and detests spammers. Unlike twitter, here you can’t just schedule various messages every day. You can’t just jump on, run some ads and expect people to upvote all your content. Be mindful of the network and community you are trying to reach, it may not be in the social space you first thought.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to the money. How much can you afford to spend on your startup marketing strategy? Remember that while inbound marketing leads cost 61% less than outbound marketing leads, they are not free. Set a budget early in the game and accept that limitation.
57% of startup marketing managers are not basing their marketing budgets on any ROI analysis.
More importantly, carefully plan how you intend to divide that budget. Maybe your blog has been your most powerful tool to date and you want to invest 40% of the budget on it. Or maybe you want to spend 35% of the budget to develop a new eBook or online course. Just be sure you have the logistics settled before you start spending (or you might just lose your hat).