Archive for the ‘startup company’ tag
I was at a party the other week talking to an old friend that had recently launched a startup. He was sharing some interesting statistics on the growth of the startup, that they have increased sales by X and clients by Y. In all, it was very positive news. After a few minutes of conversation, I asked him whether or not the business was successful. I was expecting a short and simple, “Yes!” Instead what I received was a rehashing of the metrics he had already shared. Having known him for a while, I felt comfortable stopping him mid-sentence asking, “It’s great that you’re meeting all these goals and objectives, but does that mean your startup is successful?
His response, “I don’t know.”
When you’re constantly working to meet the next goal, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture.
As a digital marketer, I live and die by goals. Every single moment of my work week is spent ensuring that some metric is being met. Increase Twitter followers by 25 a week – boom, met. Receive zero client complaints and three client compliments every month – big ol’ check-a-roo. Ensure that there are exactly 24 jellybeans… well, you get the picture.
However, when you’re constantly working to meet the next goal, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. You might be successful in growing your Twitter reach, but does that mean your business is successful?
Think about that for a second. How many people can honestly say that they know what success is for their business? Can you?
And don’t give me that cop out, “We will be successful when we meet our goals.” That’s a cheap answer and you know it.
A true definition of success should boil down to a single statement, something that starts with, “Success is…” and ends with a few words that then define that success. Ask yourself, “If I was at a party and someone asked me if my campaign/business/love life was successful, what one thing would have to happen for me to give an immediate yes?”
Some example success definitions for me:
Campaigns: This social media marketing campaign will be successful if both the client and I are happy with the campaign results.
Startup: Our startup will be successful if we are on target to have an exit event worth at least $1,000,000 for each senior officer involved.
Revenue: We will have a successful revenue stream if we can continue to give raises to all employees and afford to bring on at least 3 new staff members each quarter.
Unlike goals, which should never be ambiguous, having an ambiguous definition of success is fine. After all, everyone’s definition of success is going to be slightly different (Although if you’re working under a supervisor, make sure you’re working off of their definition of success).
Set Goals To Meet That Definition
Can you be successful without meeting your goals? Absolutely.
Once you know what you’re aiming for, setting goals becomes way easier. If my definition of success for an upcoming campaign is to ensure the client is thrilled with our results, I know my next step is to identify what the client’s expectations are and to quantify those expectations into a goal.
Goal: Drive 10,000 new customers over the course of 12 months.
Keep in mind a goal should never be ambiguous. You show me a goal that’s ambiguous and I’ll show you a person that’s too afraid of failing to do their job right.
Once this initial goal is identified, (I refer to it as a master goal) I can then ask myself what needs to happen in order to meet this goal. From there an action plan develops, more goals are identified and a campaign begins to take shape.
If I hadn’t identified success first, and just started creating goals, I would have no idea on whether or not those goals were doing me any good. If you’re going to make a sandwich, turn on the light in the kitchen first. Don’t go around trying to find the bread in the dark. It’s great to grow your Twitter following, but if that has no bearing on your success at the end of the day, then it shouldn’t be a high priority.
By focusing on goals and objectives that drive the success of your business, you can better ensure that your energies and resources are spent working on the things that truly matter.
Can you be successful without meeting your goals? Absolutely. That’s the whole point. Goals give us something to measure against. A feeling of success however can come from any part of the project. Perhaps your campaign was an utter flop. Does this mean you were unsuccessful? Not necessarily. Maybe the client’s thrilled with the results you did get. Maybe they’re excited with the learnings, or maybe they understand that they themselves had unrealistic expectations.
Conversely, can you meet your goals and still be unsuccessful in business? You bet your ass you can, especially if you’re setting superfluous goals without clear direction. Striving to meet the wrong goals can pull your attention away from the areas of your business that truly matter.
Success is something that must be constantly strived for. If you ever feel yourself bogged down by senseless goals, take a second to think about the success you are trying to attain and realign yourself.
Remember, success is a state of being, not a destination.
About a year ago, before I became a HubSpotter, I stopped wasting my company’s precious money and fired our marketing agency. It wasn’t that difficult of a decision to make, but it was an extremely expensive lesson to learn — to the tune of about $70,000.
In a previous life, I was a small business owner. When I joined the company in September 2011 (we’ll call it the Acme Startup Company), my business partners had just spent two years in research and development. They managed to round up enough money to get them through the early days and come out on the other end with a prototype for the Acme software product. When they asked me to work with them, they were nearing a product launch. And part of their strategy to support that launch was hiring a marketing agency.
We Needed Leads, They Gave Us Twitter Followers
When I was introduced to the agency owners and account managers, they jumped right into talking about how critical building an online presence would be to a successful launch — which at first sounded like the right plan. However, my business partners and I made it clear that our number one priority at the time was to generate sales leads, and we asked them to develop a plan for how they’d help us do that. But instead of focusing explicitly on lead generation, they encouraged us to build a Twitter presence, a Facebook business page, and drum up two or three good press releases announcing our company’s launch. In the meantime, they would be pitching both local and national “rags” to get feature articles written about our company. At first we went along with it. We all figured, “Hey, we’ve never really tried this approach before, so maybe it’s worth a shot.”
The Customers Started Coming, But …
Four months and 30 new customers later, we were seeing some traction, but we couldn’t tie a single one of those customers back to our agency’s work. So on New Year’s Day 2012, I sat down and wrote out our businesses goals for that year — the total number of leads we would need, lead conversion rates, cost of customer acquisition, total number of new customers, revenue per customer, lifetime value of each new customer — and about 20 pages worth of strategy about how we would achieve those numbers. I sat down with our agency, shared the plan, defined their responsibilities (as well as our responsibilities), shared all the numbers, our expectations, and a timeline for them to achieve their goals (milestone #1 was in 3 months).
No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service
Three months later and a grand total of $70,000 poorer, it was time to say goodbye. The agency just never produced the results we cared about. And probably worse, they felt like they did but could never produce a report to prove it to us. All we had to show for this mess was a new website design (which we ended up changing twice in the following 6 months), 600 Twitter followers, a few ad designs, about 10 feature articles about our business in unknown news outlets, and 3 press releases (which, by the way, we wrote, and had to pay $600 a pop to release). We fired the agency, and it was about time.
I share this story not because I think marketing agencies are worthless. In fact, many agencies are absolutely worth your money and will deliver awesome business results. But there are some key lessons we learned throughout our own experience that both agencies and business owners can benefit from.
Advice for Marketing Agency Owners
Lesson #1: Don’t Forget Why You Were Hired
Regardless of the size of your client’s business, they (should) have a very specific reason why they hired you. Figure out what that reason is, and don’t forget it.
Lesson #2: Challenge (the Hell Out of) Your Clients’ Assumptions
Actively listen to what your clients are telling you — they might say things like, “We need a new website” or “We need to figure this social thing out” or “We need to work on our SEO.” Be a child and ask, “Why?” at least five times before giving up. Only then will you uncover the real reason why they want you to do something for them.
Lesson #3: Measure Your Impact on the Client’s Business
If you can’t tie the work you’ve done directly back to the performance of your client’s business, you’re probably going to get the axe sooner or later. I know it isn’t easy, but it can be done.
Advice for Small Business Owners
Lesson #1: Hire Marketing Agencies Only When You Can’t Solve Your Problems Solo
This may sound obvious, but most small business owners think they can’t do marketing alone. You not only can, but you’ll be surprised how much more work you can squeeze out of yourself in the face of adversity.
Lesson #2: If You Decide to Hire, Hire Only Thought Partners
If you hire a “Yes Man” marketing agency, you’re done for. You might as well be flushing every single dollar you give them down the drain. You need people to challenge your thinking, and get them to drive results for your business. That’s why you hired them, isn’t it?
Lesson #3: Hold Your Marketing Agency Accountable for Producing Results
This is just baseline business sense, but don’t get caught up in buzz words like “brand presence,” “go-to-market strategy,” “microsite,” “QR code,” or “targeted campaign.” If you’re anything like me, all I cared about was the bottom line — “How many new customers did you bring me this month, how many sales dollars did they produce, and what did it cost me for you to bring them in?” If you sniff any sense of a loss (AKA “in the red”), start sharpening your axe … you might need it.
Have you ever fired a marketing agency? What lessons did you learn from the experience?
NY Judge Allows Startup to Relay Live TV to iPhones, iPads. Will Second Screen Ratings Help Networks?
It’s not illegal to watch live content from television networks on a mobile device, a New York City judge ruled on Wednesday. Television networks Fox, ABC, CBS, and NBC and others had sued the startup company Aereo for copyright infringements after learning that the company was using remote antennas to give viewers access to their content on iPhones, iPads, and computers for $12 per month.
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
New evidence suggests Apple has purchased Redmatica, a startup company from Italy that makes music editing software.
We’d like to formally kick off our Who’s Got Game contest for the industry’s best game startup. The event will take place during our fourth annual GamesBeat 2012 conference on July 10-11 in San Francisco at the Palace Hotel.
With our fourth annual contest for the best game startup, we’re looking for the best startups in the game industry. We’ll choose five to seven finalists who will present live, on stage at our GamesBeat conference. Those finalists will be able to make their pitch about their company to our audience of media, entrepreneurs, investors and industry executives.
An all-star panel of judges will be selecting the most promising startup, based on the following criteria:
» potential for business success.
The requirements are that the entrant be a startup company in the game space. Publicly traded or large, well-known private companies are not eligible.
Last year’s winner was Kaiju Empire, which was making a social game around crazy Godzilla-style monsters.
This year’s winner will be announced at GamesBeat and be the recipient of a blog post and introductions to game investors in our network.
To register for GamesBeat, please click here. To submit a speaker proposal, click here. And for sponsor information, click here or send a message to sponsors @venturebeat.com. To see our current speakers, check out this page.
Deadline for submission is June 8 at 5:00pm Pacific Standard Time. Here’s the link for the entry form.
The fledgling company behind the Kik Messenger application, which is also available for iOS, Android and BlackBerry, will thus in one fell swoop expand its availability to essentially all five major mobile platforms used throughout the world.
The Symbian app, in particular, aims to expand Kik’s reach in emerging markets and regions where the platform is still popular.
Currently in private beta, the Symbian app boasts support for sent, delivered and read notifications, group chat with any kik user across all supported platform, and photo sharing.
Version 2.0 of the Windows Phone app, meanwhile, takes advantage of Mango’s new features by adding fast app switching, list scrolling, address book contact matching and other improvements.
This is what the Symbian app looks like:
Kik Interactive develops mobile smartphone applications. This Waterloo, ON startup company is developing a mobile smartphone application that is used for sharing and connecting smartphones worldwide.
Currently released is the data mobile messenger, Kik Messenger. With sent, delivered and read receipts and “…is typing” notifications, Kik Messenger provides the best real-time chat experience on your phone. Snapshot sharing and group conversations are a perfect addition to the instant mobile messenger.
With over 3 million registrations and growing Kik…
The last barrier to entry when launching an SEO firm is the most intangible one — your personality.
Suffice to say, it takes a special kind of person to be able to start a company. You need to be a self-starter, have the confidence required to sell your product and market yourself as an expert in the industry, possess the work ethic required to get a company off the ground and make it successful, and have the willingness to take a big risk for both your career and your future. You need to have the motivation to succeed, and the perseverance to push forward through setbacks and discouraging results.
The SEO industry has long enjoyed a community that is more entrepreneurial than most. It is one thing to dream, however, and another thing to execute on your fantasies and make your dream come true. To all those who think they are cut out to start their own SEO company, I salute you. It’s a challenging proposition, and the fact that you’re bold enough to chase your dreams is a clear indicator of your passion for SEO.
If you love SEO and your heart is in the right place, you’re already on the road to success.
A Natural Fit
I feel as though I was a pretty natural fit. I’ve always been the entrepreneurial type, and ever since I can remember, I’ve been dreaming up business and website ideas. The freedom and flexibility of self-employment amaze me, and I don’t think I’d have it any other way. After over a year of working for myself, it’s hard to imagine going back. I like the excitement of a startup company, the prospect of the unknown ahead of you. Each day has a new set of challenges, successes, frustrations, and revelations.
I was always a self-starter, and since I’ve gotten a taste of independence, I haven’t regretted for one moment my decision to start an SEO company. Moreover, my experiences in doing so have improved areas of myself that weren’t exactly ideal. I’ve become much better at things like time management, sales and public speaking. These were by no means my strong points when I first decided to open my firm, but over the last year, I’ve gained some great experience and learned to deal with these considerations much more effectively.
Do You Have What It Takes?
The best advice I can give is to be honest with yourself. Are you really going to have the motivation required to make a new business succeed? Or is your enthusiasm going to fizzle at the first sign of hardship? You need to do some soul searching and figure out if this is something you really want to give your all, because there’s no point in a half-hearted effort. If you are cut out for it, however, starting an SEO company can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.
This post is part of a series that analyzes those barriers to entry for starting an SEO consulting firm. Check out the other posts in this series:
Follow SEJ on Twitter @sejournal
It’s that time again, folks: with the next big release of Android looming, another massive statue themed around the release’s code name has gone up at the Googleplex. The latest statue to join their ever-growing army: the gigantic, Android-shaped Ice Cream Sandwich.
Android lead-man Andy Rubin has just posted a video of the unveiling — check it out below.
The description of the video (titled “Calling All Ice Cream Sandwich Lovers”) is nothin’ but a link to the livestream for the rescheduled Ice Cream Sandwich/Nexus Prime debut on October 19th.
They’ve done one of these for each of the major releases at this point, from Cupcake, to Donut, all the way through the alphabet to Honeycomb and now Ice Cream Sandwich. They better be careful, or the lawn outside of Building 44 is going to look a terrifyingly crowded bizarro CandyLand before too long. Imagine getting too drunk and waking up surrounded by these things.
A shot of the Googleplex collection, albeit without today’s addition or the incredibly awesome manifestation of Honeycomb:
In July 2005, Google acquired Android, a small startup company based in Palo Alto, CA. Android’s co-founders who went to work at Google included Andy Rubin (co-founder of Danger), Rich Miner (co-founder of Wildfire), Nick Sears (once VP at T-Mobile), and Chris White (one of the first engineers at WebTV). At the time, little was known about the functions of Android other than they made software for mobile phones. This began rumors that Google was planning to enter…
This post is sponsored by The Founder Showcase.
Are you a seed-stage startup looking for funding or exposure? Then apply to the Founder Showcase Pitch Competition, where previous presenters have raised over $20 million without ever being required to pay a dime.
To apply for your chance to present on-stage, go here.
Any company less than two years old with less than $250,000 in funding is eligible, but the application deadline is Sunday, October 9. To see previous presenters, visit the new Founder Showcase Hall of Fame.
The Founder Showcase event brings together leading investors, founders, and press for one action-packed night to network and help launch a startup company to greatness. The 8th Founder Showcase is scheduled for Tuesday, November 8 in San Francisco and will be the largest crowd yet (500+). Guests will be treated to a Keynote speech from Michael Arrington, General Partner at CrunchFund and the Founder of TechCrunch, as well as an entertaining Pitch and Demo Table Competition.
This event has sold out the last five times, so purchase your tickets today. VentureBeat readers get 15% off with the code “vbeat”.
The Founders Showcase is also giving away a free Demo Table ($395 value) to someone who helps spread the word. Just tweet a message with the hashtag #foundershowcase and the URL http://bit.ly/9OlVo8, and on Friday, November 4, one winner will be randomly selected on the @founding account. A sample message is below:
- Are you going to #FounderShowcase on 11/08 in San Fran? @arrington is speaking. http://bit.ly/9OlVo8 via @founding
For more information go here.
Filed under: VentureBeat