As noted previously in The 4 types of organizations – What stage is your Organizational Leadership in?, startups typically have limited resources (capital, human resources, and technology). These groups or individuals may be starting a new business, service, group, product, project, etc. There is typically a steep learning curve and a lot of energy involved in a startup group. Mentors are typically greatly appreciated by these groups to answer questions not readily available within the group.
How do I know this?
I’m a startup in my own business endeavors. I also coach/consult with several individuals and group startups.
Getting everybody mobilized (even yourself) and headed in the same direction is a lot of work. Leadership and knowing the direction that you want to go is critical. You may have all of these great ideas, but you have to focus on one area at a time.
Some quick tips during the startup phase:
1. Make it easy for people to find you!
I’m working with several groups right now that don’t have any web presence. They also are not promoting their groups to outside organizations or professional organizations who would be happy for some of the benefits the groups could provide. They then wonder why they can’t grow their organizations. It only takes a couple of seconds to reach out and tell somebody about yourself or your group. If they don’t ask you further questions after a few seconds…Move on!
2. Know how your service or product benefits the people
One of the mistakes I see time and again is groups focusing on their social media sites or the features of their product or services. Startups are notorious for trying to compete on price and their process (actually, Turnaround and Re-alignment groups do this also).
Take some time to figure out:
- What is it that is unique about your group, your product or your service?
- What is the benefit to somebody else of using your service or product?
- Who wants this and where are they at?
Once you know this, you will be better able to market yourself.
3. Setup your foundation systems
This is can be one of the hardest parts of being a startup (besides the lack of funding). One of the common misconceptions I find is individuals trying to recreate the wheel. Some systems are somewhat standard across industries (ie. accounting software). There are books and websites galore on many business types with examples of how these businesses have been set up. These are interesting reads and make it easier to set up record keeping and project systems that work for you.
There may be some systems that you develop that are proprietary to your business, these typically take more time to set up…be patient with yourself when you hit the frustrating moments.
4. Be creative when looking for funding
It is interesting and fun all of the crowdfunding sites and angel investor sites available right now for groups and individuals who have a compelling message behind what they are doing.
You may be doing some serious bootstrapping for a bit, but if your credit is good and you have a good relationship with your bank, you may have some funding options there.
Your local Small Business Development Centers sometimes know of sources available to you. Depending on where you live, some states have economic incentives to bring certain business types to regions that they are trying to encourage economic development. The same holds true for some towns.
We could go on with more tips, but let’s open this up for tips that you would like to share at this time…