Did you know that last year in the United States almost one billion startups were logged by the Department of Technology’s Business Institutions by Zip Code (DOT BIZ)?
You probably didn’t, because that figure is made up and DOT BIZ doesn’t exist. Still, it’s convincing enough to highlight the fact that businesses get started every day, and if you’re standing on the diving board about to splashdown in the world of entrepreneurship, you might need some pointers to help you survive year one.
OK, so you have a brand, right? And you’re aware of it. You bought your friend Josh some beers to design a logo for you and you even have a strapline that you think is fancy but everyone keeps advising you against, like, “Don’t leave your gutters in the gutter, with gutter solutions from the gutter king”. Nice. But that’s not brand awareness – what is brand awareness? Click the link to find out.
To be brand aware, you have to have a handle on how memorable you are in a sea of competition. And to do that, you need to know your audience. It’s a little like trying to build the tower block while drawing the blueprints at the same time, but that’s where the skill comes in. Understanding your audience and building trust can’t happen if you are not flexible, and while that means adapting to meet the customers where they stand, you must be careful not to alienate your small but loyal crowd of customers. It’s a balancing act.
Culture is pretty much everything
Do you know who buys bathroom cleaning products from a company that was in the news for polluting local rivers while denying key members of staff any time off? Nobody. Do you know who buys cars from a company that is known to exploit cheap labor and damage multiple rainforest ecosystems in pursuit of cheaper materials? … same answer.
Culture is everything. How you act as a company is reflected in the staff you attract and the audiences you cultivate.
Here are some tips on how to start the ball rolling with in-house culture:
- Introduce humor through weekly newsletters
- Encourage employee and customer feedback
- Set clear goals and praise staff upon goal completion
- Promote respect through rewards for outstanding contributions
- Take a zero tolerance stance on anything that doesn’t resonate with your core beliefs
Move with the times (we’re talking hardware and software)
To be fair to startups, the entrepreneurial mind behind the big picture can afford to spend so much on technology (hardware/software) at the outset. The danger is that some business leaders believe a ‘mend and make do’ approach to technology is a corner worth cutting. Afterall, investing in technology isn’t cheap. But staff don’t want to work with outdated systems. And customers don’t want to buy from you if 2006 was the last time your brand was right at the cutting edge of technology.
Business is fast. Customers and staff want the best. Don’t scrimp on technology or pay the price in other ways.