Today’s question comes from Bijon in Egypt. What would you do differently when beginning your startup?
As I think back on the beginnings of Launchpeer, there are definitely a few things I’d do differently.
If I could go back to the beginning, I wouldn’t be so naïve about how much work it takes to get a startup off the ground. It’s never smooth sailing from the beginning. When you read about startups that reach profitability rapidly or other reach other key milestones seemingly easily, they are glossing over all of the hardships they encountered on the way. Whether it was not paying the bills for months while waiting for the money to come it or how their technical co-founder screwed them over, all startups have some type of setback that makes their road to success harder.
If I could go back I’d plan for things to go wrong and remind myself how much work it takes to get through the obstacles and setbacks in the beginning.
When I started Launchpeer, we had some early small customers and some cash, but I wish we would’ve had more. I wouldn’t put pause on starting Launchpeer without the extra cash, but it would have been nice to have. I didn’t plan well for how long the money was going to last – you have to remember that your money on hand is not only for your business, but for your everyday expenses, which all add up. I would’ve put away six months of expenses before quitting my full-time job to focus on my company.
I would have learned more about sales and marketing before starting my company. I knew I could manage people and projects, but I did’t know enough about sales and marketing. Even though we had a few early customers, it wasn’t enough. We didn’t spend any money on marketing in the first six months of Launchpeer. Not money, not time, not energy. I didn’t even put money in the budget for marketing. The problem with a services business is that once projects are over, you have to refill your pipeline (over and over again). I wish I would’ve spent more time when we were busy continuing to fill the pipeline. It took us a long time to figure out which marketing and sales tactics we needed to use.
I didn’t track my data soon enough. We didn’t really track anything – not how many calls we were making, website traffic, etc. You need that data to make good decisions. It won’t matter right away, but as you get into the first 4-6 months of your business, those data points will help you decide how and where to spend your time and money to optimize your business moving forward .
When we were at a peak of customers, I would have hired someone to do the extra work rather than saving money and doing it myself. You can’t spend time closing deals if you are spending on the day-to-day tasks. This is not a good roller coaster to be on because you’ll never grow.You can't spend time closing deals if you are spending on the day-to-day tasks. This is not a good roller coaster to be on because you'll never grow. Click To Tweet
After about a year and a half of Launchpeer, we niched down into one type of customer. Since we do agency-type work, it was hard to set ourselves apart from our competitors. Once we decided we were going to work with startups looking to do Series A fundraising, we were able to change our messaging and brand to target those customers and we began to take off very quickly. If I could go back, I would niche down to one type of customer much sooner.
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