What is one thing every startup team should do during the first 6 months as a startup company?
To help you put your startup company on the right footing during the first six months, we asked successful startup founders and business owners this question for their best insights. From putting a lot of work into your digital marketing to doing market research to help articulate your value, there are several things that are important for every startup team to focus on, in the first 6 months in order to best position their startup company for success in the years ahead.
Here is a to-do list of 14 things these startup leaders focused on during the first 6 months:
- Put a Lot of Work into Your Digital Marketing
- Prioritize Search Engine Optimization
- Create an Account With Your Company Name on Every Online Platform
- Document the Core Principles of Your Brand for Consistency
- Get the Paperwork in Place
- Focus On Building the Product
- Learn to Work Together as a Team
- Define Your Brand
- Build a Client Base
- Focus on Intensive Networking and Community Building
- Develop a Clear Understanding of Your Target Market
- Establish Your Core Team and Delegate Roles
- Build a Culture of Innovation
- Do Market Research to Clearly Articulate Your Value
Put a Lot of Work into Your Digital Marketing
It takes a lot of work upfront to build a digital presence online. First, from the website to your social media profiles, branding must be consistent with analytics set up to measure what’s working and not working. You must clearly define and research your target market(s). Then set SMART goals for the first 6 months, but give yourself some monthly goals, too. The next step is to develop a strategic marketing plan to meet those goals and a tactical plan to implement the strategy.
Part of the strategy is to grow your social media following by creating and posting relevant content of interest to your target audience and building relationships. This takes a lot of time upfront, but if you neglect this, it will take you longer to start seeing results. At the end of each month, check your analytics and see what worked and didn’t work. Adjust your goals, as well as your strategic and tactical plans accordingly.
Giselle Aguiar, AZ Social Media Wiz
Prioritize Search Engine Optimization
Today, people search for solutions on the internet. If you want your new product or service to be found in Google’s Search Engine Results Pages, you need to optimize your website content for SEO. A keyword research tool will benefit anyone hoping to be found on Google. Calculate the costs of an accurate keyword research tool against how much you stand to make if people find your product online and purchase it. Publishing web content that people are searching for is a way to brand yourself as an expert in the field which further increases your chances of making sales. For both reasons, don’t wait to prioritize SEO.
Janice Wald, Mostly Blogging
Create an Account With Your Company Name on Every Online Platform
After you have the initial startup in place you want to go to every social media forum, email host, and business profile page and create an account. You want to have every major email host set up with your business name. You want to set up all social media with your company as the username even if you don’t think you will use the platform. You just want to do this to prevent anyone else from taking those names. It’s also a good idea if you hear of a new social media platform becoming popular to sign up right away just to lock in your account name. We did this on all platforms but didn’t do Twitter right away and it was a mess trying to acquire the name later on.
Evan McCarthy, SportingSmiles
Document the Core Principles of Your Brand for Consistency
So many times I see businesses reactively creating brand assets without an overarching strategy, this results in inconsistent message and marketing. Strategy takes time and resources and many startups are short on one or both of these. However, it’s important to get your core brand foundation down on paper so everyone is on the same page. Create a foundational brand messaging guide where you document brand values, differentiators, and characteristics. Do the same for your visual brand image with brand standards or, at the very least, a small set of agreed-upon design elements, colors, fonts, image styles that will help create consistency.
Tanya Gagnon, Miss Details
Get the Paperwork in Place
The adrenaline rush that comes with being a part of a startup team often receives a harsh reality check when one comes up against incomplete formalities and paperwork that are crucial to any new business venture. It is therefore extremely important that every startup completes the necessary registration and other regulatory formalities with relevant authorities. While it is easy to understand the different challenges associated with a startup, it is equally important to acknowledge that without the paperwork in place, every effort and progress could easily hit a brick wall.
Riley Beam, Douglas R. Beam, P.A.
Focus On Building the Product
The product is the most important thing for a startup. It’s what you’re building, and it’s what customers will ultimately judge you on. So you must focus on building a great product. That means making sure the product is well-designed, user-friendly, and solves a real problem for customers. It also means paying attention to the details and ensuring that every aspect of the product is high quality. If you can build a great product, you’ll be well on your way to success as a startup.
Demi Yilmaz, Colonist.io
Learn to Work Together as a Team
Whether you’re part of a co-working space or have an office, it’s important that everyone on your team gets used to working together. This will help you build trust and establish a level of comfort with each other that will be crucial when you’re trying to innovate and grow your business. It’s also important to spend time getting to know each other as people: what are their hobbies and interests? What are their strengths and weaknesses? How did they get into the industry they’re in now? How do they approach problems and challenges? What do they think about [company name]? Knowing these things will help you work together more effectively and efficiently, and make sure that everyone feels comfortable in their roles within the company.
Chad Rubin, Profasee
Define Your Brand
The bottom line is that if you don’t know who you are as a company, there’s no way that you can expect anyone else to magically figure it out. That’s why, during your first six months, it’s crucial that you begin to gain visibility as a company, and illustrate that you have clear-cut, defined goals. Before you can calculate the costs for marketing, though, be sure to determine your target audience, and then create content that will attract them.
Mark Sider, Greater Than
Build a Client Base
The most important thing for a young startup is to land a client. We know that the first 6 months of every startup are the most chaotic – from building a team and branding, scaling price and administrative work. But despite all of it, my policy is to not invest more than 6 months in something that doesn’t have a demand.
If in the first six months you can’t find one buyer, a customer, or an early adopter – anyone who will commit to using what you’re offering – then potentially, all of your investment of resources is in vain. If you’re not selling or offering something people want, and there isn’t a market demand for your product/service – you don’t have a business, you have a time-consuming hobby.
Barbara Maheshwari, CEO of RemoteBob UK
Focus on Intensive Networking and Community Building
During the first six months of the start-up’s operation, focus on intensive networking and community building. First, it refers to acquiring new customers through various channels. But building a network is more than that. It is also about establishing relationships with other entrepreneurs whose activities can support yours or whose services complement yours.
To grow your network, start with traditional and social media advertising. Take part in industry events and fairs. Organize meetups with both clients and potential partners. Take advantage of online groups, communities, or forums. Don’t wait for networking opportunities; create them. This is the best way to establish your position and let people know you operate in the market.
Nina Paczka, Resume Now
Develop a Clear Understanding of Your Target Market
Within your first six months as a startup, you should have a clear understanding of your target market, what their needs are, and the best way to reach them. By building a “Buyer Persona” for your ideal target audience, you can create laser-focused content and messaging that resonates with your audience, and helps you build a relationship with them.
To identify your ideal target customer, consider their demographics, such as age, gender, location, and income. Then, think about their needs and what they are looking for in a product or service. Finally, determine the best way to reach them, whether that’s through online advertising, social media, or word-of-mouth. Once you have a clear understanding of your target market, you can start creating targeted content and messaging that resonates with them. By building a strong relationship with your target market, you can turn them into lifelong customers.
Shawn Ryan, Techtopia
Establish Your Core Team and Delegate Roles
Establishing the core team is a crucial step in the first 6 months in a startup company. Roles such as product manager, financial officer, customer support, marketing manager and sales manager should be assigned to specific people in the team. For instance, the financial officer is responsible for equipment supplies, while the operations officer creates analyst reports when the company is still in survival mode. This step helps the team to be productive and accountable in steering the growth and success of the startup.
yongming Song, Imgkits- Photo Editor
Build a Culture of Innovation
One thing every startup team should do during the first 6 months is to build a culture of innovation. This means that everyone on your team has the freedom to explore new ideas, experiment with new approaches, and try out new ways of working. The main purpose of this approach is to improve your business by opening up space for experimentation and innovation—and by doing so you will see more opportunities for growth than if you only focus on your current strategy or business plan.
Frank Samson, Senior Care Authority
Do Market Research to Clearly Articulate Your Value
Statistics show that about 80% of new businesses fail within the first 18 months. The sad part is that a lot of them had incredibly innovative offerings. So, if a great product and service isn’t the key to success, what is? It truly boils down to one thing and it’s crucial it remains your only focus during the first 6 months. But first, let me share that I spent over 24 months and $50k in systems, experts and programs in order to figure this out. And most businesses that struggle have missed doing this during the first 6 months as a startup: To clearly articulate your value.
Don’t fall in the trap of skipping market research. Find and engage with your ideal client until you refine your Unique Selling Point (USP) and can clearly express it through your marketing. That’s your main and only job.
Ioni Papadakis, 9 ELEPHANTS CONSULTING INC.