By BRADY RIESGRAF
June 5, 2019
So you finally did it, you stepped up and started your business. Maybe you quit your job, maybe you finally set aside that time, or maybe you have had your start-up for awhile but are sitting in stagnant water. Whatever the case, most individuals feel lost when they first start their own company, not knowing where to focus their efforts, and that’s exactly why we are writing to you today.
When you start any type of business, there are a million and one tasks that need to be completed. From invoicing, to website design, to finding employees, and reaching out to customers. This whirlwind of tasks to complete can feel dizzying but knowing what to focus on at the start of your start-up makes the whole process that much easier. This blog is meant to guide you a quick framework for the most important aspects when starting your start-up. This framework should hopefully help you to step back, declutter your mind from all the tasks that need to be completed, and focus on what matters to grow and expand your startup correctly. If you lack to correctly pin down these few core items, it is very likely that you will lack the solid foundation that your startup requires to thrive. So, without further ado, we look forward to laying a quick guide to the core pieces you need to focus on when starting a new company. Let’s dive in.
The Four Key Focus Points for Your Growing Startup:
This one might sound obvious, but this is the most important piece of advice for any company, startup or not. If you do not have customers, you will not have a business. I will repeat, IF YOU DO NOT HAVE CUSTOMERS, YOU WILL NOT HAVE A BUSINESS. Plain and simple. No matter how grand your product is, no matter how well planned everything is, no matter how well funded you are, if you do not set your sights on your customer, you will not be around for long. There are not many things I can guarantee in this world, but this is one of those things. The customer is king in any aspect of business, and this should be a main focus of yours when launching your startup. Who is your customer, what do they care about, what pain are you removing, or conversely, what positive are you bringing them? These are all questions that should be answered before you start your company, and if they haven’t been answered yet, they need to be. To find this out, get to know your customers. Know where they get their information, know where they look for news, and most importantly, know exactly what problem you are solving for them. I cannot stress this enough; your customer needs to be your first point of focus or else nothing else will work.
This is one that you may or may not have heard before. In the entrepreneurial world, the saying often goes, “I would take an A Team with a B idea over a B Team with an A idea”. Although your idea for a business does matter, many times both customers and investors are sold on the team rather than on the idea itself. This means having the right pieces on your team, individuals that have complementary skills, and individuals that are passionate and care about the business you are set out to create. When starting a business, it is tough to do it alone, and that’s why having a co-founder, or a team in general, is important for building a strong and versatile company. No matter how good they are, a team with all the same skills is not going to do as well as a team with one salesman, one creative designer, one financial guru, and a founder. The more you can diversify your team and cover the different bases your company will need, the better your company will do in the long run. Ideas come a dime a dozen, but a good team is hard to come by. Surround yourself with passionate and skilled individuals and your business (and your sanity) will be much better off because of it.
How, when, and where people see your brand is immensely important, and that’s exactly why marketing is the third major effort that should be a central focus early in your startup. Marketing is your way of reaching out to customers, portraying your brand, and growing and expanding your business. For this reason, marketing is often the end all be all for the success of a given startup. I have seen brilliant products falter and I have seen lackluster products sold to many more people than have ever considered buying – all because of marketing. The good news is, with the advent of our technological age, it has become much easier to reach our customer with little to no money at all. Social media is a perfect example, platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and LinkedIn all provide ways to connect directly with customers, promote your brand, and get feedback, all without having to spend a single dime. If you are not utilizing these sites, you need to start today, as this is where many people get their content, so this should be where you are promoting your brand, product, and service. These sites also give you a platform for your customers to get you on a more personal basis. What you stand for, how you operate, and the person making product often matters to customers, so get out there and get connected. Don’t underestimate the power of marketing, get out and get started today, I promise you won’t regret it.
After focusing on the three listed above – feedback is the fourth essential focus area for every startup. When starting a company, it’s easy to think “if I have a product or service that people are buying, then there is no need for feedback”. Congratulations on your early sales, but unfortunately this is not how it works. Regardless of how well or how poorly your product is selling, feedback is always an essential key to getting to know your customers, refining your product, and ultimately, improving your business. Feedback can come in a variety of ways, and it doesn’t matter how you want to receive it, just make sure that you are getting it. You may put a notecard in every purchase with your email and phone number attached, you may reach out on your social media sites for customers and non-customers to give feedback, you could create a survey that goes out to individuals after purchase, or you may interact directly with the customer themselves. If you skip the part of getting feedback you will often spend countless hours and dollars on incorrect marketing, underappreciated products, or misaligned services. Luckily, there is an easy way to make sure you aren’t spending time and money creating the wrong products for the wrong people, and that is making sure to get feedback from anyone that is willing to give it. All in all, there are a variety of ways to get feedback, find what is comfortable to you and stick with it.
You now know the four key focus areas that every startup, and frankly every established business as well, should be focusing in on. Failing to consider these areas can make or break the ultimate success of your business, and the good news is, every single point in the items listed above are in your control. YOU can choose to focus on your customers, YOU can build an incredible team, YOU can utilize marketing to maximize your potential, and YOU can go out and get feedback from your customers. Each of these items are fully in your control, they cost little to no money, and provide the gateway to success in your business. Obviously when the time comes you will need to create a desired product, execute on plans, and follow through with everything you told your customer you were going to do, but as long as you have the four above all in place, everything after that comes much easier.
As always, we would love to hear YOUR feedback. We create this content for you, in hopes that it can bring yourself and your business to the next level, and we want to hear what is working and what’s not. We wouldn’t be able to operate without the help and support of our amazing Educating Entrepreneurs community, and we hope to keep serving you for a long time to come. Until next time, we will keep revising, iterating, and improving so that what we bring to you is more applicable every time you click through the site. We look forward to our continued journey.