3 Secret Sauces for Building Your Venture from the Ground Up
by Daniel S. Williams
The “secret sauce” of many businesses is elusive. It’s the glue that holds things together and the fuel that grows ventures, yet a nearly abstract concept for many startups to attain.
In the past, we’ve discussed some lessons learned regarding why one should take on an entrepreneurial pursuit, and here we will consider some further tips on how one can build a startup from the ground up.
First, make everyone a stakeholder.
It’s a classic business-school dilemma: Do we maximize shareholder value exclusively, or attempt to balance the interests among multiple stakeholders, from suppliers to employees?
In the world of startups, the theory of stakeholders can be broadened to go beyond the aim for venture-funding, including the many participants who will inevitably play a role in guiding your venture along its journey.
Treat your potential customers as stakeholders. As the ones who have the ability to adopt the solution you propose, customers provide the sustenance for any company.
Too often students of business sit in courses where cases a read of companies launching products and services only to realize there is no need, needs have since changed, or the product lacks functionality highly valued.
Your first customers (or beta users for some) are a treasure-trove of value; learn from them and tailor your offering according to the feedback received. By giving such customers a “stake in the game” a sense of ownership can be fostered.
Not only does their input help you tailor the product before it is launched at scale, it provides a sense of personalization that directly addresses pain points felt by this key stakeholder group.
Second, you can’t have it all.
Let’s face it—the world we live in is far from perfect. Pain points exist across many markets, verticals and regions. However, many times individuals wish to find a solution that is too broadly-honed, attempting to provide solutions to several pain points.
In the scheme of things, this can leave one at a crossroads of what to do: Send mixed messages or conquer the niche you most strongly have reason to believe in after doing Step #1 above.
Additionally, the more definitive focus on solving the “core” pain point to begin has another added advantage, that it allows one to focus on one pain point and gradually expand towards other niches that provide an added “bonus” to expectations down the line.
Third, you can do it with a bit of help.
Almost a classic startup world archetype is the “bootstrapped” venture, one in which minimal funding is spent and one builds a company using whatever resources are accessible. Too frequently, startups mis-budget their already limited funding pools.
When it comes to “lean startup” principles, sometimes learning to do additional tasks on your own can yield dividends going forward for your venture, such as in marketing. For example, learning about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) sounds daunting, maybe even too complicated to master for some. The reality is that skills can be acquired with some practice and self-teaching.
There are many cost-effective and free tools that can be used before resorting to overspending on outsourced marketers and expensive targeted campaigns. Try using Google AdWords on your own and practice with a small spend initially. With the immense analytics and filtering capabilities of the AdWords platform, spending even one weekend learning more about common tactics and tailoring your venture’s ad strategy can save thousands in the future.
Many of the firms who offer their advertising and marketing services to budding startups practice some of the same concepts and strategies available at no cost on Google’s site, as well as valuable resources such as HubSpot’s Learning Academy which offers free courses to learn about customer retention and engagement methods. They even offer a free online course and certification program for Inbound Marketing, which is well worth the time and effort to learn some valuable engagement and content tactics vital for today’s content-centric emphasis.
About the Author
Daniel S. Williams is currently an Advanced-Standing senior at Boston College. He is actively involved with Boston SaaS startup Xperii as the Head of Business Development, has interned with Edward Jones, and worked for a CPA firm with Texas and Washington offices. His articles have been featured by award-winning YFS Magazine and other publications. He is HubSpot Inbound certified, as well as both Google AdWords and Analytics certified. Blog: DanielSWilliams.net Twitter: @DanSeanWilliams
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