Marketing is everything these days. You can have the best technology, but if customers don’t know you exist, or they don’t know how your technology solves a real problem for them, your startup will fail. Yet I see many entrepreneurs that focus on the basics of marketing too little and too late.
You don’t need to invent an innovative product to be a real entrepreneur. Self-employed services specialists are just as important, and most often operate remotely (from anywhere in the world) in this age of the Internet. Many of these new entrepreneurs were regular employees a few years ago, focused on a skill specialty. They are not the generalists required for new product startups.
The power and influence of paid media advertising, including print ads, TV commercials, radio, and even online digital campaigns is waning, in favor of unpaid earned and owned messaging from your website, social media, key market influencers, and existing customer word-of-mouth. But startups need to remember that even zero paid media doesn’t mean that marketing is free.
Many entrepreneurs are convinced that banks are not worth the effort for startups, especially early-stage ones that still don’t have a revenue stream, or collateral to back up their financing needs. A question I get all the time is, “Can I ever expect any backing from my bank for a great opportunity?”
Every investor expects to see some business traction, both before and after a funding event. If you have been working 20 hours a day, and spent your last dollar, but have no results to show, investors will be sympathetic, but will probably tell you that your dream doesn’t have wheels. Traction means forward progress.
Some aspiring entrepreneurs are so desperate for funding, or naïve, that they ignore the obvious signs of scams and rip-offs on the Internet, praying for a windfall. One would think that with all the sad stories and tools published over the past twenty years, this problem would be behind us.
If your startup is looking for an Angel investor, does it makes sense to present your plan to flocks of Angels, and assume that at least one will swoop down and scoop you up? In reality, hitting large numbers of Angels in multiple locations with a generic pitch is one of the least productive approaches.
In the old days, every entrepreneur dreamed of someday taking their startup public, and making it a multi-national powerhouse. Today the rate of startups going public (IPO – Initial Public Offering) is at an all-time low, and most entrepreneurs avoid this option like the plague, knowing the process is painful, and public company executives are seen as greedy sharks.
Investors will tell you that they love to put money into startups that are scalable, and ready to scale. But what does that really mean? Simply stated, it means that your business has the potential to multiply revenue with minimal incremental cost.
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