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What’s a well-known piece of business advice some first-time founders might misinterpret or struggle to implement properly?
Do whatever it takes to get the word out
New small business owners are told to do whatever it takes to get the word out about their business. But you need to strategize to market effectively. So many new small business owners blindly spend their money in hopes that their efforts will take their business to the next level. When you spend money on things like marketing and partnerships, pay special attention to what your efforts earn you back. Test one thing at a time and keep a close eye on your money. ROI is key. This is a good article to read to start marketing with a purpose.
Take the time to hire the right people for your team
When founding a startup, one of the biggest areas you may be pressured to invest in most is software and technology to ensure your company stays ahead of competition. However, investing in your company culture is equally as important. Take the time to hire the right people for your team to build a solid foundation, and strive to create an environment that makes your employees excited to come to work. Put your company culture first, and your employees will be more motivated and productive.
Ditch your pitch and focus on your ‘why.’
Ditch your pitch and focus on your ‘why.'” Lots of “experts” suggest that when you’re describing your business in a sales setting, you should focus on your “why” and how your product or service helps people. For example, “Since I was a small boy growing up in Missouri, I have always cared deeply about taking data from disparate sources and combining it into one central database. That’s why I created centraldataggregator.com.” In B2B sales, though, the truth is that no one cares. When you are selling people something, they care about two things (and not in this order): 1. the benefit to them (their company and own job) and 2. the risk. Can this product or service help their company? Can it help their ascension within the company? Both of those factors are all about time, money, and efficiency. Risk is all about how the failure of the product or service (for whatever reason) negatively impacts their company or their role at that company. Neither of these relate in any way to your “why.” Here’s my favorite video on this: http://on.msnbc.com/1oVPYkc
Young, first-time founders often ask for the sale too early and often.
Ads and deals are used so often (especially digitally) that consumers become numb to them if that’s all they see from a brand. When consumers are asked why they choose to buy from one company over another, it often comes down to trust. Establishing your company as a trusted brand involves putting out valuable content that entertains and educates people about topics related to your product or service. Gary Vaynerchuk talks about this extensively in his book “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.”
Know your market, Find your partner, and Remember the three P’s
1. Know your market. Do your research, and make certain you’re a true expert in your field before you dive in too deep. You have an idea of a problem you’d like to solve, so study what’s already out there so that you know the other players and alternatives in the space.
2. Find a partner. Starting a business can be lonely. You will have plenty of potential advisors offering their two cents on your endeavors, but when they don’t have their own skin in the game, their opinions will only be worth so much. You’re the one taking risks, making decisions, and executing plans. Having a partner who complements your style and is walking the same path will make every step toward success smoother.
3. Remember the three P’s: passion, perseverance, and patience. In the end, luck may be what dictates success or failure. If you decide to start your own business because you don’t like your boss or want to do better financially, you won’t succeed without 100 percent commitment. If you can’t get up and move forward in spite of setbacks and naysayers, you’ll never stand a chance.
Set proper milestones
One thing I coach startup founders on regularly is being sure to set proper milestones for their companies as they grow. Improper planning (or worse, a lack of planning) is one of the top reasons we see startups fail. Entrepreneurs should be able to put a solid 12-month strategy in place with realistic goals along the way, followed by higher-level quarterly planning for years two and three. It helps keep the company on the right track while showing a promising vector to potential business partners and investors.
You have control of everything
Most business owners love the idea of being in charge. I wish I knew how detrimental micromanaging everything would be when I first started. I thought that I had to make sure everything got done and hovered over my employees, which didn’t do either of us any good. I now take a servant’s attitude to make sure my employees can take ownership of their work. Your company will grow bigger and faster the more you let your employees thrive.