Design, development and deployment. These are topics that we discussed in the last part of our Startup series. We have also shed some light on how to easily and effectively create and use forms and surveys, mockups and wireframes. In this week’s Startup series, we are going to be going into detail about social tools, marketing, and minimum viable product, as well as presentation and beta-testing. Read on, for the next 5 steps in your startup path.
Nowadays, it’s all about social networking – digitally of course. There’s a wide range of social networks, that your business can and should use, whether to present yourself on more platforms or to support your customers. This should naturally be done with analyzable goals and targets, which need to be tracked and managed. With the tools below, you can do just that:
Hootsuite is the world’s most widely used social relationship platform, with more than 10 million users in 175+ countries. Use Hootsuite to manage your social media programs across multiple social networks from one integrated dashboard.
Identify and analyze online conversations about your brand, product, and competition. Easy to use, reliable and cost-effective. Follow-up on positive comments from your brand ambassadors, or respond to a dissatisfied customer before the story gets ahead of you. Brand24 can be used as a source of analysis and reports about your target group, displaying data on its behavior and trends associated with it.
MVP(Minimum viable product)
The MVP theory hasn’t been around that long but startups are employing this strategy as it is very cost-effective. Create a minimum viable product or service, give it to the people and see what they do with it and think about it. Collect valuable feedback and then modify the product accordingly, instead of wasting months and years on developing something that is already “perfect” on launch. With these tools, you’ll have your MVP in no time:
QuickMVP uses a super simple technique to help you validate a new startup idea in literally 5 minutes. It’s the only software that combines a Landing Page Builder with a Google Ad Creator in one tool. If you’re looking for something simple, this is the right place for you.
Marvel is a free prototyping and collaboration tool that lets designers transform their files into interactive, sharable prototypes viewable on any device and get feedback. It enables designers to present and test their work on any device in just a few clicks.
Remember how we talked about market research? This is the continuation of that step. How you handle the marketing of your startup, is how you handle its whole image and the message you want to bring across to your customers and/or clients. Communication, support, visibility, branding….we could go on, but if you really think about it, everything is marketing. The following tools can help you – in some ways – to achieve your goals:
MailChimp helps you design email newsletters, share them on social networks, integrate with services you already use, and track your results. It’s like your own personal publishing platform. MailChimp also offers a variety of plug-ins for other programs. Utilizing an open API, Mailchimp allows you to integrate it with PayPal, Google Analytics, Shopify, and more.
SumoMe is a web-based platform providing a suite of free online tools that can be used to grow its users’ website’s traffic. It provides tools that will make it easy for your readers to join your email list, share your articles and optimize with analytics. The free tools include:
– List Builder will let you create a fancy lightbox pop up to build email subscriptions.
– Heat Maps help you see where people are clicking (or not) on your website.
– Scroll Box is an email collection box triggered by how far your reader makes it down the screen.
For more tools – free and paid – visit Sumome’s website market.
All ideas need proper testing, for some, you need a lot more people than your team can probably offer, so what do you do? Hire beta-testers of course. These early users, whether paid or not(in case of friends), will make sure that you know about every little bug, as well as visual or functional problems well before you officially launch your product. If you don’t have access to bigger groups of willing people, try these platforms to find your perfect testing team:
BetaList has previously covered startups such as Pinterest, IFTTT and Mailbox before they launched and made it big. They provide pre-launch startups with their first hundred users. Their aim is to help startup founders better understand their customer through qualitative and quantitative research so they can make sure they are building the right product for the market.
ErliBird is an early adopter and beta testing community with 40,000+ real-world users. For Android, iOS apps, websites, and tech gadgets with real-world tech lovers.
Erlibird is the site where early adopters can discover innovative new technology and help shape today’s best tech startups. Their community is made of influential tech consumers, founders, journalists & investors.
Who doesn’t like a good presentation? And who doesn’t NEED a good presentation? Not everyone likes making or even watching presentations, but we can assure you, that a startup will need at least a few of these in the course of building itself up. Investors and other potential partners will need to see, what your idea is all about and you need to deliver the message with style and elegance. If you’re not a Powerpoint fan, try these web tools:
Slidebean is an easy-to-use, web-based platform for building presentations. Their interface takes your content and it automatically formats it to create a great looking result. If you share your presentation through Slidebean you’ll be able to track who saw it, what percentage of the content they viewed and how much time they spent on each slide, making it ideal for tracking investor activity.
Infogr.am is an easy app for creating infographics on the web. You can build real-time, interactive, beautiful, shareable, embeddable and downloadable infographics using more than 30 chart types, text objects, videos, images and maps. No programming or design skills needed.
And that’s all the advice for this part of our Startup series. As always, share your opinions and your own tips on these topics in the comments below and stay tuned for the next part, in which we will take a look at launching demos, supporting customers and analytics.
Plenty of factors can contribute to a business venture’s failure. A lack of consumer interest or bad marketing tactics just to name a few. But perhaps the most deadly contributor to startup failure is not knowing how to manage your business finances. In this article, we will look at 6 big mistakes, that are being made over and over again by entrepreneurs not thinking about their money in the right way.
1. Borrowing money when you don’t really need it, but when the bank is willing to lend it
Just because a bank is willing to lend you money does not mean you should accept it. The bank is in business to collect interest and not to optimize your financial performance. Sometimes these two goals meet somewhere near the middle, but it is not as often as you might think. It’s not that bankers seek to take advantage of business people; it’s only that their objectives and yours are very different. In general, borrow as much as you need to grow your business. The problem with credit is not that there is too little available; it is that people get too much of it. Borrowing money adds a huge burden to your business, a stress that can often cascade into your personal life.
2. Pricing too low
Unless you are Walmart or are trying to be (and have a real hope of achieving this), it is almost always better to sell fewer units at higher prices than to sell more units at lower prices. High prices protect your margins and also enhance your brand. Even 5-10 percent price increases can make a significant difference to the bottom line. Conduct deep industry research on pricing, and then price at or near the market average—maybe even a little above it. When people start a business, they tend to price low to differentiate their offer. Instead, spend time and develop a real product or service differentiation so you can command higher prices.
3. Counting on one major source of revenue
You should look at your revenue as if it were a portfolio; you do not want all or a majority of revenue coming from one or a few sources. Of course, when you start out, you are often so busy serving your first few customers that it is difficult to build other accounts or business. But, with time, you should build alternative sources of revenue, so when major revenue streams die off (which they tend to), you are still building your overall business. Differentiation is the key-word here.
4. Hiring too much overhead
People at companies bring in sales, build products, or serve customers. You can justify employees filling these roles. The real challenge is when you hire “overhead” people, who cost the company money but don’t sell or produce anything directly. Countless managers, specialists and consultants are what drives your payrolls sky-high. Of course, the real magic is created by properly deploying overhead people because they can help you get your business to the next level.
5. Mixing personal and business finances
It’s tempting to cross the line, but keep these two entities completely separate. It makes it easier for accounting, budgeting and reconciling both sets of books, and assists in determining actual profits and losses for the business.
6. Impulse spending during the start-up phase
When starting a business, it’s easy to be swept up by the excitement of it all – buying a custom-made desk, company cars and so on. But before you know it, you’re eating into the bottom line and your profit margin. The solution is to scrutinize every expense for cost-benefit. Every cent should count towards improving the business in a measurable way.
Did you spot yourself in our big mistake list? If so, take advantage of this new knowledge to get a proper grip on your finances, otherwise, you’ll be swimming in debt and filing for bankruptcy sooner than you may think.