Being at the helm of a start-up is equal parts exhilarating and terrifying. You have a dream you want to make a reality, but at the same time, you might not be sure exactly what you need to make it happen. Of course, you’ve created a business plan, and you’ve got the finance (or you wouldn’t have got this far). You might even have got your premises lined up (if you need them), but there are some other key things you need to get in place to stand the best chance possible of still being here in the next 12 months.
You need to look at your staffing levels
The first thing you are likely to realize is that you can’t do everything yourself. Even if you have all the skills, you are going to quickly find that you probably don’t have enough hours in the day and you are going to need some help. Now, unless you can get friends and family to work for free, you are going to need to hire people, which can be expensive and could be an overhead you have not budgeted for.
Depending on what you need to be done, you’ll want to hire skilled or unskilled people to help you out on an ad-hoc basis. For many ad-hoc positions, do not underestimate the value of seeking out semi-retired or retired people looking for cash work or something to keep them occupied. For more specific tasks, you can hire freelancers to do one-off jobs on sites like Upwork or Fiverr or approach an agency for a major project like building your website.
Make sure your website looks professional
It won’t matter what sector your start-up happens to be in. Anyone who is going to work with you or become a customer is likely to look you up online first. For that reason, you are going to want your business website to look professional so they don’t get the wrong idea and choose someone else instead.
So with the solitary exception that your start-up actually specializes in web design, you should leave this up to the professionals and not attempt to cut corners by doing it yourself and creating something awful. While, as a new business owner, you will want to keep an eye on your expenses, not getting your website created by specialists is a false economy, as is trying to raise your online profile (more on that later).
Invest in Digital Asset Management
Regardless of what type of start-up you are involved with, you are going to have quite a lot of digital assets. If you are not sure what that means, a digital asset is an image, a video, or any other media file that is exclusive to you, and you’ll need to keep it safe.
By using DAM (Digital Asset Management) tools, you can not only keep things like logos and presentations safe, but you can also securely control who has access to them (like the freelancers or agencies that are doing work for you) or set expiry days on any assets you have licensed to customers. This gives you flexibility and full control, and peace of mind that this area of your business is taken care of.
Raise your online profile
To attract customers, you are going to need to let them know you exist, and there are several ways you can choose to do this. Which of these methods you choose (or which order you do them in) will depend on many factors like your budget or which business niche you happen to be in.
You could use advertising for quicker results, SEO as part of a longer game, or social media posts that combine both and is mostly free.
This is perfect for jumpstarting traffic to your business but is also typically the most expensive. You will get customers this way, but when you stop the adverts, the stream of traffic is turned off. As with your website design, you should get a specialist involved, certainly before you start spending big to make sure you don’t start pouring money down the drain.
This approach is more long-term and involves boosting your place in online search results. This is done using various tactics, which, again, are best left to the professionals, and while it very rarely produces instant results, it can work out cheaper in the long run. Having a decent placement for a relevant search term on Google can potentially bring in more traffic than a big-budget advertising campaign over time.
Using social media
If you are on a tight budget, then social media could give you a best of both worlds approach. By targeting the right hashtags and trends or approaching a social media influencer to promote your product or service for a results-based fee, you can open a few doors straight away.
You can also, by consistently posting that offers value over time, you can build an audience that will respond to and share your posts and whose ethos align with your own. These people are most likely to buy your product or service when they need it, or at least recommend it to others.
A few final thoughts
You probably won’t need a spoiler alert to know that things rarely go exactly as you imagined them in the world of business, and this is especially true when it comes to having a start-up. This is mostly because, as a start-up, you are spending much of your time in the beginning in uncharted waters, and it is incredibly easy to be taken unawares by a serious problem.
However, by making sure you have the right headcount to deal with any sudden influxes of work and have a website that looks professional, you can keep those instances to a minimum. You will also need to manage your digital assets and make sure you keep raising your digital profile to keep what you have secure and also to keep your business moving in the right direction.