Building a start-up is a tough endeavour and it's impossible for an individual or partnership to succeed on their own. The best and most successful entrepreneurial founders know they need to surround themselves with a high quality team with a broad range of experience, expertise, skills and education. In the 2017 Startup Muster report, researchers set out to find out what start-up founders needed most in terms of assistance. We cover the top five needs and provide some insights and thoughts into what type of help start-ups are expecting in each of these areas.
Expose Your Self
Top of the list is media exposure. What is unique about your story? Who would be most interested in your story? Apart from yourself who will most benefit from your idea – target them and the media they access. With little money to spend on brand development, consider gorilla marketing techniques, vlogs, influencers, partner up with complimentary brands. Most importantly be clear about your story. When you have a good story people will share your story and refer clients to you. One of the start-ups I’m involved in was successful in getting a major national newspaper to run an article on their business.
Captain, my Captain
Finding a mentor came in second. This is not surprising since mentoring and coaching in business has become highly relevant and important. A good mentor is hard to find. Sometimes you stumble across one by accident. The best mentor is one who has had years of experience in starting, building and successfully selling businesses. Ideally they’ll have similar industry or professional background to yours. Most importantly, you’ll need to get along and have compatible personalities. Why? A good mentor will challenge you and push you beyond your limits and comfort level. Before engaging a mentor or coach, make sure you have a clear understanding of what help and support you need.
Show me the money
Seed funding is third on the list - no surprise here. While many start-ups need funding at some stage of their lives, seed funding is high on the list of new entrepreneurs or those that haven’t had enough success to build up a war chest of cash. Seed funding can come from many sources except from venture capitalist funds that tend to work with later stage start-ups at A-round funding. Family, friends and angel investors are typical sources of seed funding. Expect to give away equity when you ask for seed funding.
Number four is social media exposure. You’d be hard pressed to argue against the benefits of social media in helping start-ups build their profile and brand. However, taking full advantage of social media is a complex and time consuming task. The rise of digital agencies around the world suggests that this type of expertise is sought after. However, engaging a digital agency is expensive. So start-ups would benefit most from cost effective advice or free tips and knowledge on how to exploit social media. One thing that I’ve learnt is that there’s an inverse correlation between time and effort that you put into social media and the money you need to spend. If you spend lots of time on social media activities, you’ll spend less money. And if you don’t have time, then spend lots of money.
To Be or not to B2B
Number five is a big one…access to corporate customers. Who are your customers and who is in their value chain? Who are your customers’ customers, suppliers and partners that you can leverage off for relationships? Are you targeting small businesses, mid-size businesses or large corporates? Wherever you focus your intention, energy flows. Choose your customer type and then expand your circle of influence, proactively target and extend your networks and contacts.
So there we have it - the top five things that start-ups need most. Well in Australia at least. Is it any different in other markets? If you’re a start-up founder and entrepreneur, what’s on the top of your list?