I’ve put together my 5 secrets every startup owner should know before they spend a penny here. I have set up my own business in the last few years and spoken to countless others in the same situation. Startups face a constant battle. There is so much competition for your product or service from others that you can find it a struggle to capture the attention of your potential market. Startup owners put their heart and soul into what they do. They can end up mortgaging the house, selling all they own and using up all their savings to get their business launched. We have all read stories about people who put everything on the line and ended up with a success as well as there being a few stories of people who went in the opposite direction. If we had a crystal ball, then we could decide whether it was all going to be worth it or not. But life isn’t like that. Here are the 5 secrets every startup owner should know before they spend a penny -
5 - You have to know your product or service
This might sound like a strange place to start on the list of the 5 secrets every startup owner should know before they spend a penny but this is vitally important. You should know what you are selling inside out. You will have to convince others of its true merit, so you should understand everything it can and cannot do. You may have to discuss this with -
● Your customers
● Potential investors
● Your bank
● Future employees
Make sure that you have a concise and engaging way of detailing what you do for all these people. It will transform the way you think about your business. Startup owners have been caught out by this and lost sales or investment because of it.
4 - You also have to know your competition
Understanding who you are up against is just as vital as knowing what you do. If your potential customers are thinking about buying from you, then they will assess you against who they currently use or what you will be replacing. You should know them inside out. Too many startup owners Don’t have enough information about their competition to hand. Don’t fear them, but understand them and how you are different.
3 - This is all useless unless you know your customers
The third on my list of the 5 secrets every startup owner should know before they spend a penny is also the third “you have to know…” on the list. Your target market should be defined, researched and refined before you put your hand in your pocket once. Ask yourself some questions -
● What size is the market?
● Will they buy from you more than once?
● Do they have the income to buy what you are selling?
● Where do they hang out?
● Who they use for your service or product currently
● If this is completely new, then what might they sacrifice to buy from you?
There are hundreds of questions you might want to ask yourself in search of your ideal customers. Take this to the bottom level so you know if you have a big enough, lucrative enough market to operate in. Startups don’t just succeed or fail because they do or don’t have a good offering. They can fail with an excellent product or service but without a big enough market to sell to.
2 - You don’t have to spend your own money
Nearing the end of the list of the 5 secrets every startup owner should know before they spend a penny and not spending a penny is something that is becoming more possible all the time. Sources such as crowdfunding are becoming a fashionable way of raising money for the startup business. Sites such as Crowdfunder are a terrific way to exchange what you need for an equity stake in your business or some other prize. You can get the cash you need without selling the family silver.
Beware of two things here. The first is that your investors might be wary of investing in something that the owner doesn’t put their own cash into. If you believe in the idea that strongly then you should be putting up some money. Secondly, you have to give something of value in exchange for an investment. Many of the investors on the site want to make money and be in on something from the ground floor. You should make your offering vibrant, interesting and different to what else is out there.
1 - The hard work thing
No startup would be a startup without a massive slice of hard work. The number one on my list of the 5 secrets every startup owner should know before they spend a penny is that this is going to take a lot of graft. As I said earlier in the article, there are so many other businesses competing for the scant attention of your potential customers. They may not be direct rivals to you, but everyone has a limited amount of time. You need to grab your piece of that and drive your message home. This will take effort in -
● Producing the right content that engages others
● Speaking to all the right people
● Attending events
● Refining your product
● Forging relationships
● Dealing with customers
This will consume hour after hour of your time. It will take over your life. Some days it will feel great - others it will feel dreadful. Being a startup owner is like the cliched rollercoaster - and this is the final secret. If you have done all your research and know what others wished they had before they began, then you can be one step ahead of the game. Keep on going and I wish you all the success in the world.