So, you are looking to start a business? Or did you start with something like freelancing? Perhaps you are a solo business owner looking to see what else you can do with the leap of faith already taken?
Entrepreneurs are awesome – they think up an idea, validate it (some don’t), and launch. From then on, it’s all work, hustle, blood and sweat. That’s fine but everything has its own limits.
You can’t just survive thinking up things. You need execution too. You need a way to launch on scale. Further, you can’t get stuck on any idea. You can’t be under the impression that all of your ideas will work.
Some will. Some won’t.
But then, when there’s talk of scale, there’s cost too. Thankfully, there are ways to scale without incurring any costs whatsoever. You can always start now and pay later. How does that work?
Dan Norris – founder of multiple startups including WPCurve, Black Hops Brewing and helloify, and author of The 7 Day Startup – has set great examples to launching startups with nothing but an idea.
Still, that’s Dan Norris. What do people who have nothing but an idea – and no gold to bank on – launch without spending their life savings? Smart tools, that’s what.
Here are some of them:
Hosting? Make that free.
The first thing you’ll need to launch your startup is a website. And launching websites starts with hosting. But what hosting would you use? There are the normal shared hosting plans, offered by endless reliable-until-it’s-your-turn providers, that everyone uses.
You can go for much more expensive dedicated or VPN hosting. If you are using a CMS such as WordPress or Joomla, or run an ecommerce framework such as Magento or Shopify, you have specialty hosting applicable to each of these systems. Meanwhile, there are world-class (but expensive) hosts available too.
So, which of these do you pick on? Chances are, you’ll have difficulty just deciding what to go with.
Instead, use Hostt. They are a remarkable company that seeks to provide you with free, scalable – the key is “unlimited” here – and better hosting than “premium” services, to start with. Stop paying for your experimentation. Don’t pay for something that you can get for free, and that too with no strings attached.
The website? Please DIY.
You are startup and you are – as is every other startup and its founders – strapped for cash. You can’t afford anything fancy in your expenses list. Web designers are expensive, and the software they use is extravagant. You don’t need them now.
You can start with one of the many DIY website builders available today for a very low cost. Two very good ones that I can think of are IM Creator and Wix. Or, you can choose to go with the mother-of-all popular CMS – WordPress.
Pick your host. Launch WordPress. Grab a theme. Start marketing.
Talking about marketing, get going fast. And stick to it.
Most startups are guilty of “building” on technology and hiring more developers and designers than they need. Head over to AngelList and check out the jobs on offer at startups. You’ll see more technology-based jobs than you’ll see for marketing or content.
Yet, apart from the initial fanfare that your startup will be launched with, you’ll soon run out of steam. From then on, you’d have to hustle. Only proper digital marketing practices such as blogging, social media and email marketing can help you go through the funnel of brand awareness, lead generation and sales.
In fact, I’d go as far as to say that you ought to start marketing even before you launch.
Validate. Experiment. Validate again.
Many successful startup founders will attest to this: one way to ensure you don’t fail is to validate your idea properly. Validation doesn’t market research or doing surveys in the traditional sense.
Real validation – at least in the digital business domain – could be as simple as putting up a landing page, driving traffic to it, and measuring your results in terms of actual paying customers.
If you aren’t getting an active base of customers, you don’t have a sustainable business. Without an in-demand product or service (and demand is demonstrated by successful validation), you just can’t scale.
Build a hybrid team. And find a way to manage it.
As a startup you could have an internal team or you might depend on freelancers, consultants, vendors, and others. Probably, you have a hybrid team with both full-timers and freelance staff.
Either way, you’d need a team to scale up. But since you don’t have as much cash as Apple does, you’ll want to find the best talent at the most affordable cost with payouts in line with performance or actual work delivered.
Use sites like Elance or ODesk to find affordable talent. Use AngelList to find full-time staff eager to work for startups (the candidates who’re actively looking to work with startups are an altogether different breed compared to others).
Also, you’ll need a way to manage your teams. The world is full of easy-to-use web-based tools for efficient execution and managing remote teams.
Use full-blown but daringly simple project collaboration tools such as Basecamp and Trello, or even super-plugins like Grexit that change your regular Gmail inbox into a full-fledged collaboration software.
Take it from here
None of the above tasks are “one-off.” You don’t just do these things and take off to Borocay Islands in the Philippines. Running a business takes a lot more than you can ever give it.
The question is: are you thinking about entrepreneurship the right way? Do you have a team? Are you using the right tools for your business? Are you thinking of scaling up?
Tell us all about your entrepreneurial journey in the comments, please!