Why You Need to Build a Startup
You’re lost. You’re tired of working 9 to 5 jobs and want to build a startup of your own. But that seems like a long road. The only thing you have at the moment is an idea. However, you need resources, connections, marketing strategies, knowledge about the latest marketing trends and even after you attain all those, you feel that there is so much.
“We need graphic designers, web developers and many other people to be in a single platform to create something worthwhile. Building a network is good for marketing and promoting purposes. As long as one stays committed many wonderful things become achievable.” (Umer Mahasin: CEO of Digitimalization)”
So, this is what this guide is for. We won’t just provide you with moral support, but with practical steps that you can follow to gradually transform you from a ‘nobody’ to a ‘somebody’. Let me name a couple of enthusiasts who were actually successful in reaching sky high. Ever heard the name Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates? We are pretty sure that you have. Because these are some people who did not restrict themselves to the 9 to 5 realm of slavery but chose to become someone like the Wizard of Oz and create something magnificent of their own.
Now, it’s your turn.
The Bigger Picture
Well yes, we should be telling you how fun setting up an online business can be. I mean, all you need is a laptop and an idea to rope people in, right? True, but partially. We are aiming to be sincere here. Hence, we will first walk you through the dark side and the ‘hassles’ one can face in all marketing businesses as a whole.
“If you’re like me, you’ve seen a million sites promising to help you get rich quick. Or posting cheesy inspirational quotes about success while their own business struggles.
But some of the most dangerous information comes from the countless blogs that focus on the minutia of starting an online business. The ones that say, “You have to start a podcast! And get on social media! And don’t forget to learn SEO!”
It’s overwhelming. Following that advice leaves you spinning your wheels, not getting anywhere. You’re stuck in Marketing Tactical Hell.” (Ramit Sethi: Founder of ‘I Will Teach You How to be Rich and Growth Lab)
Sethi has a good point here. He was also right when he mentioned that one needs to find marketing tools, strategies and ideas that can give one flexibility of: –
- Time: Earn revenue even while sleeping
- Space: Work from anywhere as long you have a laptop and a wireless connection
- Growth range: You can either maintain a moderate $1000-10,000 per month business or exceed that. However, it is wise to study for all levels that one can reach.
So, let’s get started with building your startup from scratch.
Choosing a Market
If you try to set up your market for everyone, you’d be wasting your time and money. The key is to target an audience relevant to your niche and go after marjet share extensively.
How do you choose a market? There are four main factors to consider: –
- Market size: Is your target audience regional or global? Male or female. Age group. Related to the food safety niche, tech niche, business niche? Ask yourself as many questions as you can to get a clearer picture.
- Market wealth: Does this market have the resources and finance to spend on your product/idea/service?
- Value proposition: Is your value proposition unique enough to stand out?
- Market competitors: What are your chances of success? How can you learn from your competitors? Are they a threat to your business? How can you overcome the threat?
“I was willing to follow the ZTL advice, because I knew that it was created by someone who has already done it very successfully.” — Nagina Abdullah
What Was Her Strategy?
“I said, ‘I will coach you for 10 weeks to lose weight — contact me for more details!’ And then I shared other clients’ results.
“I also expressed why it was urgent to sign up now and stop putting off their goal of losing weight.”
“The #1 thing I focused on was copy. I used to think I was a really bad writer. I was in remedial college English! That self-judgment held me back.
“Then I learned that writing isn’t what you learn in college — it’s what you learn when you talk to people and really get into their heads. Now I tell my stories and other people’s stories.”
After you have clearly defined your market, it’s wise to start focusing on making a keyword list. Primarily, you should gather all those keywords relevant to your brand/business idea. Ask yourself this: what would people type while searching for sites relevant to your startup?
Start with a core keyword list. For example, Checkit’s keyword list includes ‘chefs,’, ‘restaurant’, ‘food safety’, ‘HACCP’ and other similar terms. Your keywords make excellent blog categories and this is exactly what you should aim for.
Before going into core metrics, let’s go back and remind you about your square one which is your definition of success. We all have our priorities. Success can be defined as by signups, revenue, profit or anything else one can think of that makes him/her all happy and giddy inside. For me, the definition of success includes my most craved values such as ‘making the difference’ and ‘appreciation’.
“All the greatest achievements require someone to think differently.” (Faiz Seyal)
All you need to make sure of is that there is no vanity success. And you’re good to go.
Setting Core Metrics
So, just as one shouldn’t indulge in vanity success, one should indulge in vanity metrics. If you ask Eric Ries, working with vanity metrics is like “playing in success theater’’. To be more precise, they are closely linked to one’s ego needs and aid less in improving the success rate.
Be sure that your core metrics are quantitative and specific. For example, you define success as 500 startups per month. The goal should be to have a few highly valuable metrics based on actions taken throughout the customer acquisition funnel. These include E-book downloads, newsletter subscriptions, and signups. You don’t have to measure everything of course. Simply focus on the key indicators of success.
Here’s a tip though that might come in handy. Try recording your baseline metrics right away so that you can easily measure your growth.
Setting a Budget
Universal truth: we need money for every major business dream. Remember when we talked about doing the math above? Well that was related to your success goal. This, on the other hand is related to your startup where you almost nothing but your idea. You ask yourself a lot of things during this period. How much can you afford to spend on your marketing strategy? Even though inbound marketing leads 61% than outbound marketing leads, they aren’t free. You need capital to invest.
Set a budget early at the exact time of your startup, and keep following that limitation to save yourself from any potential loss. We don’t want that do we?
Estimating Your Conversion Rate
Highly integral stuff here. Let’s use the example of newsletter signups for example. 20 out of 100 news newsletter signup means that your conversion rate is 20%. And this is really good! We are assuming here that these customers are paid customers.
Three things are essential:-
- Using historical data to measure your conversion rate and plan accordingly.
- Estimating the lifetime value of a customer.
- Assign value to goal completions like newsletter signups.
Your Online Toolbox
After you get some clarity, you realize that setting an online business is not actually that hard. It’s pretty easy! You just need persistence.
So, let’s talk about some do’s and dont’s first. Not going act like an overprotective nagging mom here, but just keep these things in mind: –
- Don’t rely on service providers too much. If there is a catch, move on and save you time and money.
- Reliability is gold. Cheaper services are not worth it. Imagine your guest post being publishes in New York Time’s magazine or score a post on Huffington. You get tons of traffic and subscribers. But then all of a sudden your site crashes and those subscribers are lost. Hence, it is wise to promote your startup idea on a reliable site. Those few extra bucks help you sleep well at night.
Back to the point, you need tools: –
- Set up your domain
- Focus on Web hosting
- Build your website
- Design it creatively
- Low budget website builders like wordpress
Set Up Your Domain
It is commendable to choose something simple and straightforward. What do I mean? I’m referring to your URL for your website domain. It has to catchy and creative enough to pull your target audience towards you. Make it sound emphatic as well.
Focus on Web hosting
Now that the URL is taken care of, you need to set up your web host for your website. Hostgator, is a reliable tool. Any site build is good though. WP engine is great if you’re building your site through WordPress.
Go for low cost options at the startup stage. For example, if you’re going with WP engine, then sign up for the Personal option. As your business grows and you get more resources, you can upgrade to a higher level.
Once, you have a domain and a host, you need to connect the two so that it directs to your site. Hover and WP engine have excellent customer support and can help you.
Build your website
Nothing to fret about. This task will be kind to your pocket too. One theme that is simply beautiful is Genesis at Studiopress.com.
Congratulations! Now you have your website up and running!
You can now click her to check out a list of super cool resources to expand it further!
These include: –
- And Wishlist member
Low Cost Website Builders
WordPress.org is the most popular website builder on earth. 48% of the world’s top Technorati blogs are managed with WordPress.
Note: There is a difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org though. WordPress.com is a blogging platform that requires no downloads and WordPress.org is blogging software that must be installed on a web server, but allows full customization.
Refer to this link for more differences.
Other great website builders are
- Squarespace: for beautiful imagery
- Shopify: an awesome e-commerce platform
- Wix: website building platform with over 63 million users
- Weebly: intuitive website building platform
Taking Your Startup to the Next Level
“We watched our revenue grow by 100% every month… I’m like, ‘Is this real?’” — Bryce Conway
This section is divided into 3 sub sections to make things more digestible. The first is ‘Pitch meeting’.
Pitching Your Startup
For this, you need to set a presentation to assist you in describing your product/brand/service or anything that you want to start with. Venture capitalists will be interested in learning the following: –
- Your product/service/features/benefits,
- Marketing opportunities and existing competitors,
- Management and technical terms along with a bit of information of any specific talent/skill you have,
- Development milestones and of course;
- Marketing strategies.
“I woke up every morning and told my husband ‘I’m going to make $50,000 this month.’ He didn’t believe me.
I didn’t care. I created a new product and sold it for $297. I sold all 190 of them in 4 days and made $56,000. It was fun — I got to rub it in my husband’s face.” (Bushra Azhar: Busy mother of 2 who went from no business idea to $130,000 in October)”
No one can do it alone. You will have to take advantage of the awesome resources of venture capitalists, experienced entrepreneurs, talent, web developers and business planners who can help jump-start your business. Let me fill you in of what you actually need to do by listing it all down.
- Investors: Venture capitalists and their angels can connect you within their portfolio or industry.
- Incubators and accelerators: These people/programs or should I call them ‘connections’ can transport you to a whole new world of network growth and effective resources.
- Economic development agencies: There are many cities and agencies that offer to lend a hand to help growing startups both financially and logistically. Growth Lab is one of them.
- Colleges and Universities: Educational institutes act as valuable platforms for startups as they can promote your business ideas. These include labs, researchers, scholarship programs, alumni connections and more.
- Advisors: Accountants, attorneys, web developers, successful digital marketers and others can provide critical assistance beyond your skill range.
- Talent: Look for long-term people with specific talents who can make your start up more original and valued immensely at a global level.
- Enterprises: Connect with companies and industries that might want to work with you to promote your business idea. They usually already have all the initiatives and resources that elevate you in no time.
Now that you have understood how to shape your business idea into something more abstract and structured, we can delve into the more technical stuff. It’s time to turn your passion into a business.
Cutting to the chase, you would require online tools to validate yourself. I’m assuming here that you already have thought up of a brand name/business idea/. But this is real important though. Use the support of online tools too. Here is a list: –
- Impossibility: domain name generator
- Lean domain search: tool generating many domain ideas in seconds
- NameChk: Checking name availability on a great number of social media sites
- Naminum: business name generator
- Short domain search: short single-word availability checker
- The name app: finding available domain and social network names
- Wordoid: short and catchy names for new ventures
Forming a Team
You’ll be expanding your set up sooner or later. You might even start your own website or company and set up you an office. Hiring employees, finding business partners and gathering resources for something more stable and extensive should be the goal now. A new entrepreneur needs to be aware about how things work related to idea he/she is investing in.
Outsourcing is good. Gathering graphic designers, content writers, journalists, web develops, accountants, business specialists and others are better.
Expanding Your Business Online and Offline
Again, a Ramit Sethi’s words are right on the mark. You work 5 times a day. Overwork. Earn, learn, share and grow. But what about the weekends?
Well the answer is simple. We have short lives and lots to do. As we all know, it’s a race against time. Hence, ask yourself something right now. Yes, right now. What is something that you can talk about continuously for hours and hours with your best friend? Something that you like and have knowledge and skills of, perhaps? This is what you can use to cash in as an online business. And after it is accepted on a wide-scale, it can expand extensively.
So, first thing you need to do when you want to expand your business. KEEP PLANNING!
Using Math Instead of Magic
First lets quickly talk about what NOT to do.
“3 common mistakes network marketers are making on Social media:
1) Posting too much about their product or opportunity
2) Spamming other pages or groups
3) Misusing Private messaging without building a relationship first.
These practices are not working and they are hurting your profession and your startup. (Eric Worre, Network Marketing Pro)”
The key to a successful business is not magic, it’s math. You need to stop trading your time for money and be persistent about planning different systems. For example; Ramit Sethi states that if you have a $500 product and make only one sale per day, you will reach $100,000 in 7 months. It’s all about commitment.
So, this is how it all reels out. First you sell one product then add another then two more. Two or three of them might even end up as an ugly failure but one of them might actually slingshot your startup towards success! You just have to keep on planning.
“I studied a lot and I worked a lot. I see how much better I am right now compared to a few years earlier, and I’m high-fiving myself.” (Maria B)
“The community is much better than any other community I’ve seen. It can’t even be compared to anything else. There’s a sense of unity between people who sign up. Everybody’s on the same page, even if they’re at different stages in their startups.”
“It pays to see how other people are doing things because it adds clarity. And clarity will really help propel your startup.”
Well, this is more than enough to help kick-start your startup. Do more research though in case we missed out anything! Good luck!
If you have any questions, feel free to post in comments or ping me at @UmerMahasin