Ask most company Founders what they need most in the early days of their startup, and they’ll look at you like you’re some kind of fool: “Money of course!” And where is that money going to come from? “Investors of course!”
So startups focus on the endgame of getting some cash into the business, and the last thing they consider is love.
Say what! What’s that Zaborszky character talking about now? Yes, I know that love is probably not on the To Do List of most companies, but it’s hugely important. Let me explain.
The Friends and Family approach to raising seed money is a very natural route when many Founders are first getting started. Our friends and our family are essentially investing in us, not necessarily in the concept of the new company. They are putting a little bit of their money behind us because they believe in us and want to see us do well. On a wider stage, the same feelings of warmth towards an enterprise mean that...
Being instantly ready to tell the story of a startup to investors, reporters, or a video camera, is an essential skill that all core team members must master.
Telling a great story about your startup is an absolutely vital part of the Marketing process. You need to catch the attention of your potential audience, hook them and reel them in - to borrow the analogy of fishing. Your story must be powerful and engaging, with an arc of beginning, middle and end. Your story must also be true of course – we are not in the business of catching our audience by making claims that we cannot back up. This doesn’t mean that our story should be dull however – quite the contrary.
So, let’s say that the startup team have put in the hours to refine the story to the point where it is now really Shiny and ready to be taken out into the world. There are meetups to attend, potential investors to speak to, some media appearances, and so on. Up to this point either everyone has...
Money makes the world go round and without doubt it’s a prerequisite of all business startups. What are the initial models which will help get a business up and running?
Silly question right? Of course you want to raise some money. Money is the oxygen which will help your new enterprise live. Lack of money will stop your enterprise in its tracks, even before it has started rolling. So thinking about money from the get-go should be at the very forefront of all new startup planning. Here’s the surprise: it generally isn’t.
When you believe that your new gizmo will change the world, it’s sometimes hard to believe that the world maybe doesn’t want to change, or even worse, that no-one thinks your brilliant invention will be of very much use. It then comes as a shock to discover that while the planning for the product launch is going rather well, thank you, there are bills and wages to be paid, and a ton of costs coming down the line. Money is needed, but...
We all recognize the moment of triumph when a sale is made. So is marketing of secondary importance, and just ‘making a noise’?
For most startups the most significant time is when the sale gets made. This can mean when investors are attracted at the right level, and with the right amount of money, and it can also mean when the product or service reaches the end-user. Money is countable and quantifiable.
Until the time that the money rolls in, the enterprise should be busily attending to their funnel. It used to be called the Sales funnel, but now most experts understand that Marketing and Sales work together so completely that unless they’re hand-in-glove, success is unlikely. In fact we now more often refer to the process as the Digital funnel, because it’s in the digital domain where most of our activity and efforts are concentrated.
So it’s a continuum, with the narrow end of the funnel being the sale, and the wide end being the start of ‘all...
What exactly is a Sales Funnel, and why is it important? We’ve all heard about the philosophy of funnelling, but the definition seems a little imprecise. In this short article I set out to clarify some points.
The idea of funnelling is always to push something to an inescapable conclusion, like filling a can with fuel. The funnel directs the liquid, or the process towards the desired result. Once upon a time, businesses were very focussed on Sales, and the Marketing part of the equation really only occupied the wider entry point of the funnel – the awareness and interest of the product or service. After that Sales took over, propelling a prospect to the inevitable moment when they said ‘Yes’. At least it was hopefully the inevitable moment.
Now, things are different, because Marketing runs all the way through the funnel, and in fact in the Digital Marketing Funnel, the functions of marketing and sales blend together. This is exactly how it should be to...
I’m currently advising a financial startup that is what I’d describe as being ‘highly engineered’. The Founders have thought of everything, and if their Whitepaper was an actual physical document, I guess it would be the size of an old telephone directory. Believe me, it’s comprehensive! The problem is that it’s too comprehensive for the initial reader. There’s a reason why news programs begin with the headlines – so that we can immediately understand what the main points are, and whether they are important to us. Only then do we decide if we want to watch, or read the detail.
The KISS principle was proposed by an engineer named Kelly Johnson back in the 1960s when he was working for the US Navy, and rapidly spread through the American armed forces. ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’ is the idea that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated. For ‘systems’ you can also...
Crossing the finish line
I’m very interested in success, and a lot of what I do is about helping my clients to realize the success of their projects. The 6 Steps approach that I have developed over the years is designed so that it can be applied to every sort of business startup, no matter what the product or service on offer is. Sometimes people are surprised when I tell them that their startup is pretty much like any other in the challenges it faces. How can a tech company be the same as - for instance - a food company? My reply is that in raising money and gaining market attention, there’s almost no difference, and that in order to assure success, the step-by-step approach is the only game in town. And yet many startups around the globe decide that they are the exception to the rule. Their talents and uniqueness will win through, and obviously their offering will soon be racing towards the finish line. Big mistake.
So while I’m very interested in success,...
If I’m thinking of upgrading my golf clubs I may decide to sell the old set. There are lots of sites for that, or I can put a card on the notice board of the clubhouse. If so I’ll write something a little sales-oriented: ‘Immaculate set of hardly-used XX10 clubs consisting drivers, woods and hybrids. First one to see will buy!’
We all understand a simple sales proposition like that, but marketing? That’s another thing altogether. Too often I find that startups are very concerned about what their sales figures will be, and have probably spent a lot of time on spreadsheets projecting possible income. The product or service may not even be ready for market, but already the likely profit and loss figures are being assessed and massaged. It has to be done of course, but so has marketing. As I mentioned recently in a post, to many people marketing is simply something ‘clever’ (meaning a bit fake or tricksy), a junior member of the sales...
Think the unthinkable
I know that this isn’t a very PC quote to start with, but it illustrates a point: “Strategy is buying a bottle of fine wine when you take a lady out for dinner. Tactics is getting her to drink it.” The words of comedy writer Frank Muir, from a rather different age, but it continues neatly from my previous posting about Strategy. Strategy is about winning wars, Tactics is about winning battles, and you can quote me on that.
So what happens when tactics have to be used to deal with situations ‘on the ground’ which either haven’t been planned for, or which are so extreme that they could never have been planned for? Think of something unthinkable like the collapse of the Twin Towers in New York. There was no specific strategy to deal with such a disaster, but amazingly the emergency services used tactics which resulted in many people being brought to safety who would otherwise have died. Robust tactics work. Or to give you another...
In my last posting I was talking about that useful phrase, ‘The map is not the territory’ and how it applies to getting a business up and running, particularly during the fundraising phases. It’s one thing to have a plan on paper (or spreadsheet) and quite another thing when it comes to how that plan matches reality. And yet we must have a plan, or a better word is Strategy. If there is a true strategy for a business, then it adds huge strength to the offering. It turns somethings vague into something concrete. But as the strategy specialist Jeroen de Flander says, “You cannot be everything to everyone. If you decide to go north, you cannot go south at the same time.” If that sounds simplistic, believe me, I’ve seen very many businesses trying to go north and south at the same time, with less than optimal results.
So to succeed, a business must have a plan, like a builder must have a plan before commencing work on a house. The...
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