Tuesday, May 15, 2012

5 Startup Lessons I Wish I'd Known

If someone can develop an app that provides “hindsight” they would truly make a fortune. Sadly, most startup businesses stumble out of the gate only to embrace valuable lessons too late in the game. Can you benefit from any of these lessons learned from startup entrepreneurs?

1.      Line Up Early Investors

Operating capital is essential in any business whether it’s just starting or has been around for generations. For the new business, it is important to have working capital on hand to not only cover the day-to-day operations but also as a “cushion” for any unforeseen circumstances. Too often new business owners look for the big investors who want to minimize their risk by only investing in a proven entity. This means they won’t be interested in a first position investment. Instead, look for contributions from eager investors who are willing to come in early. It might mean smaller amounts from more investors but it could pay off in the long run.

2.      Bank Your Content

If content is king, then do you know where all your content will be coming from? A lot of excitement can be generated by launching a new website. All the social media networks will be lined up and you’ll get started with a powerful push by providing tons of fresh content. Unfortunately, that fresh content could quickly dry up if you don’t prepare for the long haul. You should treat content fulfillment just as you would with any other type of fulfillment: it has to be delivered on a consistent schedule and maintain the standards you set for the company.

3.      Be Smart With Your Marketing

There are many valuable resources to tap into in terms of online marketing campaigns. The real question is do you know what you’re doing? Just because you set up a Facebook page and Twitter account doesn’t mean you’re work is done. Set aside some of your marketing budget (yes, you should have a marketing budget) for online consultants with a proven track record of success. Let them be your guide.

4.      Reach Out

No company should be an “isolated island.” You should be forming business partnerships as an ongoing function of your operations. Suppose you are setting up a web business to sell custom sneakers. Wouldn’t it make sense to partner with a shoelace company? Think about how you can expand the reach of your business through these partnerships.

5.      Manage Expectations

Every new business startup dreams of fast success. The same can be said for anyone buying a lottery ticket. Just because you think you’ve got it all figured out doesn’t mean your business will perform according to plan. Expect the unexpected and understand that a business is meant to endure. Your six month plan is every bit as valuable as your five year plan and both should be grounded in realistic expectations.