To make a lasting impression, startups, or any business for that matter, should aim not only to survive but to thrive. Only a practical startup business plan can create that lasting impression, and this article will show you how.
Your startup is your baby. As an entrepreneur or a startup, you need to know the do’s and don’ts of this all-consuming lifestyle. You also need to plan ahead of time and execute your plan.
You want your business to be recognized by clients and users, right? Your clients and customers need to feel the same passion that you feel for your startup. But 90% of startups fail for simple reasons such as running out of money or hiring the wrong talent.
And that is why you need to keep your investors, clients, and employees happy to get your startup off the ground and make it successful. So, I have listed these 13 ingredients that are essential for any startup that aims to thrive.
1. Develop a Vision, Create Your Startup Business Plan
Vision helps you hold on to activities that benefit and discard those that don’t. Your business maintains focus. A strong and purposeful vision paves the way, even for the smaller teams within your startup. In essence, your startup’s vision helps you define the activities necessary for results.
Do you have a clear idea (and you should!) about how your startup will grow? For instance, take a look at Google’s vision: “To organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” This short sentence seamlessly reflects Google’s products and services, don’t you think?
So, is your vision permeating through your startup?
Steve Jobs had a vision, and it changed the world! Jobs had a vision of technology making life simpler. He thought of minimalist innovation that changed the way we use technology. He started the PC revolution and the era of smartphones.
Does your product or service manifest your vision? Consider this when you develop a vision for your startup:
- Reflect on the most significant aspect of your startup
- Identify core values of your startup
- What does your startup hope to solve in the next five years?
- Craft a short and memorable vision that employees can easily remember.
2. Draw up Financial Projections That Are Vital to Your Investors
As a startup, forecasting your growth may seem like an overwhelming task. You want to spend your time on selling your product rather than planning.
But it is important that you forecast your expenses and revenues. This is to make a lasting impression both on your internal and external customers. Few investors are interested in a startup that has a blurry vision or unripe growth prospects.
To make a lasting impression, create two revenue projections for your startup. One based on your dream (aggressive) and the other based on practical reality (conservative). This way, you are open to making conservative assumptions while loosening up on your aggressive projection.
Don’t forget to get your expense report in order! Understanding your gross margin, operating profit margin and total headcount per client will help you avoid several expenses all the way.
3. Spend Your Money Wisely
Talk about forecasting growth and building revenue projections.
This takes us to the point of investor funds.
When you have investors backing your startup, they need to know exactly how you will spend the money.
The spending has to be meaningful. To make a lasting impression, make sure that your investors and your team have a clear view of where your money is being used in the business.
4. Provide ROI for Your Investors and Users
You need to get your documents in order and get transparent about your expenses, revenues, and benefits of your product and services.
This way, your investors can clearly see what return they would get on their investment. A visible ROI serves as an important motive for the investors for choosing you over your competitors.
This holds true for your customers as well. Users need to know the benefits they get from your product or service.
5. Get the Perfect Pitch Presentation on Your Fingertips
To get your startup off the ground, you need to deliver the perfect business pitch.
A meeting with an angel investor can be a defining moment for your business.
Unless your product, application or service is disruptive, they've already heard your story. (Meaning, one that changes the industry, creates a new market, etc.)
When you are out there preparing for your pitch, you know it is imperative to keep all your information handy.
Pitches can happen anywhere, not just in big boardrooms. You need to be ready to pitch in elevators, waiting rooms, cocktail parties, etc.
Being able to deliver that perfect pitch can get you great partnerships. And even lucrative incentives.
In no particular order, here's how to make a lasting impression with your pitch:
- Know your audience. Be ready to answer “how many people need your product?”
- Know your competition. How many players are in the market? How are you different?
- Know your user base. What user base do you have already?
- Know your numbers. Are you making any money? What do your numbers look like?
- Know your growth. Forecast how much more money you’ll get.
- Know your product. Be clear about the way it works, etc.
The emphasis is always on the investors. They want to know what's in it for them. And that keeps them engaged with your pitch and interested in your startup!
6. Offer the Right Customer Experience
Sure, you need revenues to drive funding. But what drives revenue? Users.
Users have great power in driving revenues for your business.
Just look at Google. The company reached close to $1 billion revenue within five years on its incorporation. So how can your startup make a lasting impression and get more users?
Can users navigate through your website easily? Does your application have any issues? How is your UI/UX user experience on a platform?
Customers know what they want, but not how to get it. You can market your products and services, but a great experience can only be felt first-hand. Improve your customer experience for more success!
7. Hire the Right Blend of Talent
Choosing the right resources is important. You need the right talent with the right attitude.
She had to let go of many at the startup stage which wasted her time and resources. Four years later, Deepti’s company is worth USD 5,000,000 in revenue.
8. Offer a Disruptive Pay Model
If your startup is not heavily funded, then get your customers to pay for the services.
This creates a lasting impression than if an investor was to fund your startup.
When you get your customers to pay as they go, you are mindful about the money spent in the wrong direction. Just look at how these disruptive innovations fuel Uber and Netflix!
Like a credit card, some startups can take the fund for granted, causing more damage. Plus, you will work harder to make a lasting impression.
9. Run Effective Meetings at Your Startup
One of the easiest ways to build a lasting impression with your clients is the way you hold your meetings.
You can leverage meetings especially if you are a service-based startup.
Clients need to know what they are paying for. Besides, effective meetings unite teams and motivate employees. So, meetings are a great way to communicate and keep everyone engaged.
3 ways to make a lasting impression with meetings
- Weekly Status Calls - Meetings are a great way to keep your investors or clients involved in your business and engaged. Discuss how the week went by and also talk about your plan of action for the next week.
- Keep Meeting Agenda Clear - This way you are then focused on the agenda at hand. You will save everyone’s time and discuss the issues that need the most attention.
- Schedule Follow-Up Meetings - Rather than extend an ongoing meeting to discuss impromptu points, schedule another meeting. Remember that simple language and offering simple solutions will always get you remembered.
10. Own up to Your Mistakes
Maintaining integrity is an important aspect of any business.
For a startup, it is doubly important that you keep your customers informed about any glitch, any error or problem, and do so, right away.
Be honest with your resources. Your client is your partner as well.
If you come across a blunder, own up to it. Your failures are your biggest lessons.
When you own up to your mistakes, your customers see you as responsible, accountable, honest and relatable.
11. Don’t Enter into an Already Crowded Market
If you want your startup to continue to exist and have an effect on your customers, then give them something new.
You need to enter a niche for a lasting impression.
For example, Uber created something so simple that has helped improve economies all over the world. But Google engineered cars that don’t even need drivers! Now that’s a great example of disruptive innovation.
12. Offer Freemium Pricing
Freemium pricing works well for brands like Dropbox, Evernote, etc. who offer sufficient value to their free users.
For example, Linkedin allows you to make a profile and use many important basic features.
But you pay a little more and get access to more service benefits. Apple does the same. They give consumers a choice of storage space, then offer more space on their cloud at a price.
13. Don’t Use Jargon
Whether it is in a meeting, emails or any other communication. As a startup trying to make an impression, spare the jargon. When you say “it’s not rocket science,” someone can contend you to show them how it’s done. All this kills time.
As you can see, these tips are easy to do. You can easily incorporate them into your company culture. You and your resources are key in making lasting impressions to your clients and customers. A lasting impression is an amalgamation of great experiences over time. Use your time and efforts wisely and make it last.
Do you have any other tip or suggestion that can help startups make a lasting impression?