In their early stages, startups face a critical point in their life that determines whether they will fail or make it to the next phase in their development. Unfortunately for entrepreneurs, the odds are not in their favor. In fact, over 95% of seed-stage startups fail to raise a Series A. Even out of the startups who do succeed at raising a Series A, many of them still fail before the next round of funding. There are a plethora of factors which need to work in your favor in order for your startup to achieve success. Managing and keeping track of all of these factors can seem like an extremely daunting task - especially when you are tasked with managing the rest of the business. Entrepreneurs often get lost between important and unimportant factors which is unfortunate because time allocation and strategic task management is crucial to make sure that your company is on the right track. Here are the core elements work on when your goal is to accelerate growth for your startup.
1. Branding matters more than you think
As the saying goes, "fake it till you make it." Even though your startup might not currently have the success you hope it one day acheives, success begins in the early stages with how you present your company. The way that the world sees your company, the way that your customers and investors perceive and understand your brand - that is the basis of your success. If you can grow a strong, unique, enticing brand early on it will parlay into long-term success. Branding is about understanding your customers and investors, understanding what they want, and catering to that perspective. All else being equal, a strong brand will be the deciding factor for many prospective customers and investors when deciding which company to support. The reason why branding is so important for the growth of early stage startups is because everything is speculative at that stage. Startups don't have the long-term proven success, the customer base, the proven product, or the tangible metrics to demonstrate their value. There simply isn't enough substantive value in a pre-Series A company to factually illustrate their value to the market. Thus, people rely on brand when evaluating worth. Branding and reputation and public image are core to a startup's impression on their environment. Branding often requires PR firms and other resources to gain the proper press connections and content.
2. Don't wait for your customer to come to you
Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of believing that "if we build it then they will come." Some of the smartest tech gurus and innovative minds believe that if they create something valuable then people will recognize its value and adopt the product. Unfortunately this is far from true. Even if you create something so unique and valuable that it has the potential to provide value to virtually any user, this doesn't mean that your customers will understand or believe this premise. Rarely do people adopt a new product without some sort of encouragement. Rather than relying solely on the merrit and functionality of your product to attract users, your goal should be to go out and get those users yourself. Promoting your product and selling to customers should be a key focus if your goal is to have your product be absorbed.
3. Leverage partnerships with other entrepreneurs
There are countless other startups in the same position as you. Rather than observing passively their actions and progress, try establishing a mutually beneficial relationship to learn from each other's successes and failures. Often times, people who are in a similar situation as you have things they can teach you. Also, because of their relatively small size, each startup usually has a weakness. By talking and spending time strategizing with other startups, you can more easily define and ameliorate your weaknesses and continue on your path towards success.