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Observations Following My First Year as a Startup
by Startacus Admin
Author Bio- Becky Lodge is a member of the Startacus community of Entrepreneurs and founder of Little Kanga, a salesand marketing consultancy with an established freelance network based across the UK. Her Startup has just turned one year old, here she shares with us some observations having survived this all important and enormously challenging milestone!
Observations Following My First Year As A Start-up
Having just completed my first year as a new business start-up, I wanted to share with others out there, my top observations, (blended too with some of my own experiences/opinions after a sales career spanning over 25 years).
You may have read hundreds of articles and books, but nothing *and I mean nothing* prepares you for what is about to happen.
So here are my Top Observations – Year 1:
You are finding your feet. 24/7/365 but will get through it
Sleep is an unwelcome interruption in your pursuit of global world domination.
The risks that you think that you have covered off in your planning, are not actually the issues that arrive at your business door.
Then the things that you think may be issues, are really quite easy to sort out. How does that work?
It pays to just get through each day and pivot and problem solve on the spot.
Procrastination is not your friend. Make a decision fast. Move on.
If it’s not right, then you have learned something, just move onwards as fast as possible.
Get the legal documents in place and of course, get insurance.
Your existing network, is where you find your first customers and first revenue
Don’t be fooled by the latest marketing and sales tactics of ‘the next best thing’ (there are plenty of people/companies preying on start-up owners ‘newness’ in the market).
Also, don’t get so hung up on getting lots of page ‘likes’ and followers on social media that you miss obvious opportunities with real people outside your front door.
It’s all about the money:
The majority of your early stage revenue will come from people that you know. Or people that know them. Or people that know them (you see where I am going with this?!).
It doesn’t cost you anything to ask friends and family (who are often delighted to help support and promote you anyway) and start local.
Find great networking groups that are supportive and where you feel welcome (NB: you won’t feel welcome at some networking groups, especially if your competitors run them or are lifetime members there – worth checking that out before you go and it’s too late!).
If you have suppliers, they can also be customers.
They in turn, have customers, that may need your product or services, so incentivise them by giving them a percentage in return for an actual sale or lead.
Zero cost for you in terms of advertising (apart from the time spent asking them the question and getting them to recommend you).
Networking is not selling
Well, not for at least 12-24 months in my experience (25 years plus).
It is about building relationships, trust and brand awareness. In year one, nobody knows who you are, in their minds using you is a massive risk and it is up to you to prove why you aren’t.
Don’t just turn up to a networking event unprepared, check who is going beforehand and find who you want to speak to in the room and actively pursue it. Take customer testimonials and decent quality business cards.
Who is likely to buy from you? What kind of questions should you ask? Find out what they do.
Don’t come over like a robot though. Nobody buys from robots (not yet anyway).
I have lost count of the times that start-ups that I have mentored for sales state:
‘I don’t get anything from it’ or
and I softly remind them, that in their own experience, how many times have they personally bought from someone, they have just met that day and spoken to for 5 minutes?
Anything worth having in business takes time. Like in real life.
Your relationships and children take time and effort and are years in the making, business is no different. Be patient.
Focus on selling – nothing matters more. End of.
There is only one skill that you need, when starting your own company.
You need to be able to sell. If you are in business, you are in sales.
If you cannot sell, then find/employ/co-found with someone that can. That’s the best tip that I can give to you. If you do not sell, you will not have a company.
That’s a fact.
Don’t be fooled by your own thinking that your product or service is unassailable. It isn’t. Sorry.
That may sound blunt, but every single company owner thinks the same way and they can’t all be right.
I go against all of the best business advice in the market; and still truly believe that the best barometer of success is to stop people in the street and ask them this:
Would you buy this product/service and why?
What problem does this product/service solve for you?
How much would you be prepared to pay?
This is very easy and cheap early stage market research for you to undertake.
The feedback helps you iron out lots of early stage issues that you don’t want to encounter later on down the line. Believe me.
5.Harness the Power of Twitter
Twitter hours are great, plus they are not limited to the local area. More opportunities for sales.
They can help you with all sorts of questions and support for your company as it grows.
The small business community likes to help one another, as they know how tough it can be in the early stages, so don’t spam your message relentlessly, seek to get involve and support one another.
Look for local ‘hours’ where you can get involved locally and introduce people and take the chat into a direct message and ask people more about their business.
This is a great tool for initiating conversations and in year one of your company, you need to network and accelerate your contact base as top priority.
Especially if you have a limited budget, this platform cannot be ignored as part of your marketing strategy and growth plan.
She has supported over 100 start-up businesses in her first year of business and was nominated as a finalist, in the local Venus Awards as ‘New Business of the Year’ 2016, sponsored by NatWest. Go and see what she is up to on Facebook and Twitter.
Mi-IDEA Manchester Networking Event
27th Sep 2016
The teams from CISCO and Manchester Science Partnerships have teamed up to create Mi-IDEA, a post-accelerator designed to foster and nurture digital innovation in the North West of England.