You’ve put in the hours, you’ve scribbled plans on the back of paper napkins, and spent nights imagining what could happen. You’ve written your one, five and ten-year plans, and dreamt big. You’ve had meetings with the bank to try and secure a loan, found low-rent premises and hired committed staff who share your vision. Or perhaps your startup currently consists of just one staff member: you. Or maybe you are still in the planning on the back of paper napkins phase of development. Whichever it is: Congratulations on getting closer to realizing your dream of owning a successful company!
However, before you go steaming straight ahead make sure you have the basics covered, and perhaps most importantly, ensure you have a clear vision of what your company does, who your customers are, what they truly want and how you can best give it to them. By doing so, you will hopefully avoid your startup crashing and burning into business oblivion, and will instead be on your way to heading up a production company with a competitive edge. Follow these top tips to ensure that your startup is a success.
In order to work out the best way to brand your startup, take an analytical look at exactly what you do, what you can do that your competitors cannot and where it is that you hope your company will be in five years time. Doing so will help you to define your goals and shape your brand accordingly. Ensure that it is easy for a potential customer to understand what you offer, so focus on clear design and copy when it comes to your website, logo, and branding. Branded goods are a great way to raise awareness, and companies such as Inter Branding SA offer a wide variety of options from bags to pens, sunglasses to clothing, all of which can help get your brand name out there.
Before launching your startup do thorough research into the market. Familiarize yourself with the competition, both the good and the bad. Knowing the weak spots of your competitors can help ensure you don’t follow their mistakes. Know what is already on offer and work out what the unique selling points of your product or service are, and then work out how to highlight these so that you stand out. Do not underestimate the importance of market research, so pull together focus groups of your targeted demographic and ask them for their honest opinions. Find out what they want and why, work out what they don’t want and ensure that your product or service fits with their vision. Make it a pleasant opportunity for participants by offering them a financial reward for their time as well as refreshments while you ask them questions. Their opinions, as your potential future customers, are invaluable.
Every startup will need some money, so to ensure your wallet doesn’t empty after the first few weeks of business look for investors or angels who back startups or see if your business fits the criteria of any government or charitable grants. Or, if going down this more traditional route for funding does not work, then why not crowdfund for your startup? Crowdfunding sites provide a perfect platform for raising money as well as attracting customers and instilling loyalty. Offer appealing rewards, and you’ll hopefully have people lining up to donate funds.
Create a strong online profile
It is important to establish your company online and make your business easy to find. Create an easy-to-find website with a simple and relevant domain name, and ensure the interface is intuitive and user-friendly. Trial your website before you launch it, as you want your launch to go as smoothly as possible without any technical glitches. Use social media and get people talking about your brand wherever possible.
Boost your brand’s status by focusing on PR and marketing. Be sure that you are clear in your intent in terms of what your company does, who you do it for and why people should care about it. To make an impact you could devise a PR stunt that will pull in local or even national media attention for free, creating valuable publicity and a buzz around your brand. It could be anything from a hot dog-eating contest involving a celebrity contestant (if your business involves selling hot dogs, for example), to hurling a brand new car from an airplane and filming it. Doing something that can go viral has the bonus of creating shareable content that can have a wide reach on social media, providing long-lasting impact. Get to know local or specialized journalists and cultivate relationships so that when you have something newsworthy, you can contact a journalist who will be able to ensure it gets noticed. Do the same with bloggers who write about the field your business operates within.
Not every startup is going to soar to the top straight away, and it could be that your first attempt does not take off as well as you had hoped. There is no reason to let that stop you from trying again though, so take everything you can from failing to ensure that your next business venture works. Try to view every failure as a unique opportunity to learn something. Frame your experience to embrace failure as valuable, turning any challenges you faced into positive learning tools. Reframing events can also boost your mental health as you will train your mind to focus on the positives instead of becoming consumed by negative outcomes. When talking about your business to others don’t highlight the things that went wrong, focus on what you learned or what went right. If you didn’t earn anything, don’t talk about revenue. Define your own measure for success, which could be raising awareness of a specific issue or being committed and giving 100% to working towards your goals. As a startup it is always hard to make money immediately, so don’t let that be the only stick by which you measure your business achievements.