If you’re entering the startup world you’re going to face a lot of challenges.
It’s fun if you like that kind of thing. It also means that you’re probably a little crazy.
I don’t think it’s normal for people to give up security in exchange for chaos, but that’s what startup entrepreneurs do.
I’ve read a lot of books and articles about startups. I’ve also listened to and read interviews from successful startup founders. From that information I’ve noticed a few importance concepts for startups.
Here they are. Knowing these should help you with the management of your startup.
1. You Don’t Need A Lot Of Customers (But You Do Need Customers)
A good startup usually begins with an idea, but it can also start when you identify something that a segment of customers needs. It doesn’t even have to be a segment of customers. It could start with something that you need or something that someone else needs.
If you identify that something and find a way to fix it then you have the makings of a good startup business.
It’s at this point that some will start to think about the long-term (more on this in point #3). Part of this thinking is that you’ll need a ton of customers in order for your startup to work.
This might be the case, but you don’t need a lot of customers if you set your business up the right way.
If you sell something once for a small price then you’ll need a lot of customers. That’s a tricky business to get into. It’s much more advantageous to get more money from each customer. Then you don’t need as many.
There are a couple ways to do this. First, you can work on large projects like website design or website development.
The second way is to have recurring income from the same customers. That’s how GBW is setup.
A note here while we’re talking about customers is that you do need them. You can work all you want on your startup, but if you don’t put a high priority on getting your first (and probably your first three) customers then you’re wasting your time.
2. You Don’t Need Investors
If you’re starting to see huge investment requirements for what you want to do with your startup then you’re probably heading down the right path. There are a few businesses that do well with big investment, but there seem to be many more startups that succeed without investment.
Taking on investment is risky. If you enjoy running a business and if you want to have control over the company then you’ll want to avoid investors. Go at it on your own. You can bootstrap you way to a good sized small business and you’ll be happy while doing it.
It might take longer to a grow a business this way, but you might be surprised by how fast it will go.
3. You Need To Plan For Scale (Your Business Vision)
It’s important to have a vision for what your business will look like. It’s really easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of what you’re doing. It’s a struggle sometimes just to get through the days when you’re deep in the startup life.
But you have to think about the long-term vision and the sooner you do that the better.
When I started GBW it was just me writing for a few clients. That took a lot of time each day since I also had a full-time job. But I always kind of had a vision for how I wanted GBW to evolve and what I wanted it to be.
Having that vision helped me make decisions along the way and it can help you too even if you’re busy doing the things you need to right now.
4. You Don’t Need An Original Idea
Sometimes coming up with an original idea isn’t good anyway. You’re taking a gamble if you come up with something completely new. There is no proof that it will work.
It’s actually safer and potentially more rewarding to come up with something that’s the same as something already out there. You can see that there is a potential customer base. Then you can see what’s being offered and look for ways to offer it in a different and better way.
When I started GBW there were other services just like it out there. In fact, writing services have been around for a very long time.
We did a few things different by narrowing the focus. We only write blog posts. Many of our competitors offer all kinds of writing. We also focus on long-term relationships instead of single posts.
And your personality and the subtle things you do with how you run your business make you different as well.
5. You Need Marketing (But Not All Marketing)
You’ll almost always need to get your first handful of customers without marketing. You’ll have to find them anywhere you can. I found the first few for GBW through colleagues, LinkedIn and online forums. I think I also got one via Twitter when a person asked about blogging services.
But after those first few customers you’ll need to invest in marketing. But you don’t need to do all marketing.
For social media, use the network that offers the most access to your target customer and forget the rest. For GBW that’s Twitter and LinkedIn.
It also means that at GBW we invest more in blogging on the GBW Blog than updating social media. It pays off more.
Lately we’ve also been doing more online interviews and podcasts. Those have been paying off well.
Marketing is important and necessary to keep new customers coming in, but if you try to do it all you’ll spread yourself too thin.
Running a startup can get crazy. Everything is coming at you from all angles. It helps to have a few basic understandings of what’s happening to guide you. The items above have been key to the growth of GBW and I think they’re pretty universal. I hope they can help you as you grow your new business.