Starting a new business can be intimidating. We all see the success stories from startups around the world but rarely do we know how to achieve the same things they are. What makes certain startups stand out among the rest? How do you figure out what to do if you’ve never done it before? The founders of FanSaves have been there; much of their first year of business was testing the field, figuring out the ins and outs of what being a startup really means and learning from those who had been there before them. Here are some things they have learned along the way.
1. Hire an Accountant
It’s admirable to think you can run the entire business on top of managing the books but more often than not entrepreneurs can get overwhelmed and your accounting is one thing that should never be neglected. Our advice is to seek out an accountant who is startup friendly, meaning they won’t charge an arm and a leg to help you with your books. Leverage your network; chances are you know someone or someone you know knows someone who may be willing to help.
2. Attend at Least One Major Pitchfest or Conference
No matter what industry your startup falls into chances are there are startup competitions within conferences you can apply to pitch at. There are many benefits to this, mostly that pitching will give you a chance to showcase your product or service to a new audience which can lead to making connections in various ways. A lot of Pitchfests offer great prizes for making the podium and those are great but also consider the feedback in which you will receive that can sometimes lead to a pivot or validation. If you’re nervous about speaking in front of large crowds, helps calm your nerves by taking a few public speaking classes, they’ll go a long way.
3. Find a Co-Founder
We are blessed to have within each other someone who matches our passion and work ethic every day of the year. Together we can accomplish double the amount of work we would be able to do solo. Often times the rollercoaster that is entrepreneurship can be discouraging and can be a lonely place. So many times we have gotten discouraged after receiving tough news or been frustrated when something doesn’t go our way but we have each other to vent to, lift up and encourage making the “bad” things that happen not so bad. Often times we are able to put things in perspective for each other and pick each other up when we are down. We are also able to brainstorm and dissect things together which often leads to new ideas and better practices.
4. Do a Kickstarter or Indiegogo Campaign
Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are great indicators of your product or service. They are a great way to raise startup capital while giving away no equity in your company. They can also provide excellent market validation for your business. There are plenty of articles and reports you can read that will prepare you for a successful campaign. As Jason Calacanis would say “Do the work!”
5. Create a Culture for Your Business
It may seem silly to develop a culture at such an early stage for your business but it’s a good idea to get into a rhythm and to begin living the startup (see what we did there?). Immerse yourself in the brand, paint your walls with your business colors, buy some apparel that you can rock to represent your brand, create a workspace that is inspiring and can allow your employees flourish in a startup environment.
Networking is probably one of the most important things on this list that every entrepreneur should do. I can’t tell you how many times we have gone to an event, a conference or even a small seminar and have made invaluable connections that have accelerated our business. DO NOT BE AFRAID to network. If you’re passionate about your business, that passion will always come across to other people who will want to help you.
7. Recruit an Advisory Board
Advisors are people who have a breadth of experience in certain areas of business that you and your co-founder(s) may be lacking. They can help connect you to their network and because they think of your startup in a business sense they truly want to help you succeed. Advisors can accelerate your growth and because they believe in your product or service they are able to think outside of the box and come up with fresh ideas that you might have overlooked. The best part is, if an advisor really believes in your startup they will help you in your early stages for prestige alone. Keep tabs on which advisors really provide the most value to you and your startup because down the road this will help you evaluate any shares you decide to give them in exchange for their help.
8. Join an Accelerator or Cohort
Joining an accelerator can provide you with excellent resources that you can use to grow your business. They generally offer help from experienced mentors that want to help and some don’t take any equity in exchange for their services. They provide business expertise, strategies and channels that truly do help accelerate your startup. Different but similar are cohorts which are more or less intensive startup boot camps. Education, collaboration and access to additional resources are all by-products of being accepted into a cohort. Even if you’re not sure you’ll get accepted, try applying anyway. You might surprise yourself and getting accepted can help you gain confidence in your business and yourself.
There are many other things that we could recommend to help new founders accelerate growth but these are the Top 8 that really helped us get FanSaves through its first year! It’s not gospel but it helped us and in turn, we wanted to help you. At the end of the day keep grinding, keep learning and stay focused. Your journey will be unique to you but hopefully these tips will guide you in the best way possible.