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The business you’re trying to start will most likely fail

The Business You’re Trying to Start Will Most Likely Fail. Here’s How You can Beat the Odds

The two business decisions that will make the greatest impact on your company immediately and long-term are: your team and your marketing.

Your Team: Hire for Talent and for Team

Your company is as good as your team. Don’t just hire great individuals. Hire great teams. Ensure that your team’s individuals can work well together as people and complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Hire with an eye for growth and development. Look for people who can lead well, which means not just looking out for their own promotion but are great at mentoring and supporting, and who care about other people as much as themselves.

Most employees in the US are disengaged which means they aren’t contributing their best ideas and energy. That means that the company misses out on the strengths of their employees and taken to scale, that’s working with just a fraction of a work force.

At a startup, you have the opportunity to hire smart hard workers who will bring their A game, and stay with their A game. You build a strong company culture that values performance, creativity, the unique strengths, skills, and talents of each team member so that instead of working with the equivalent a fraction of your workforce, you’re working with a workforce powerful and effective beyond your team’s individual contributions.

It sounds simple enough but this is so often overlooked. People who look great on paper aren’t 100 in the interview, but we hire them because they’re good enough. People who are fabulous in interviews and give all the right answers are never given actual hands-on exercises or introduced to other team members and by the time it’s apparent they’re a bad fit, team dynamics have already taken a hit.

Take care in hiring your people, even if it takes longer. Surely you know from your own experience that all it takes for a good person to leave a company is one bad manager. People are your greatest investment. Protect them.

Your Marketing: Authentic and Finely Crafted

It’s not easy to convey a company’s personality through the internet. The companies that make it look easy do it with a stellar marketing team.

Go look at the instagram page of any big brand. Look at how beautifully the photos are taken, how they all follow a color palette and design scheme. Watch what times and days they’re posted and the interactions they have with their followers.

Naturally when we try to tell a story about ourselves, we end up talking about ourselves. You can’t do that with a brand or company because you exist to serve other people. Therefore, your story must be about them. Most companies struggle to communicate their value, and that’s fatal.

Anyone who’s written an admissions essay knows how hard it can be to speak interestingly and illuminatingly about our purpose. It’s just hard! You write and re-write and tweak and hire a tutor and freak out. It’s the same with storytelling as a business but arguably the stakes are a little higher.

That’s why it works so well to get someone else to do the storytelling (which is all marketing really is). As listeners, they know what’s boring/interesting about it, the pieces that will be valuable to your base, the parts than can be clipped down for a tweet or edited into a video. They take what you’ve been working so hard to achieve and present it so that others can relate. Instead of hearing an idea, they’re evaluating how it will benefit their life. That’s what you want.

Doing marketing right is so complex and time-consuming. Producing stellar content and ensuring vibrant, engaged social media channels are full-time jobs unto themselves, and with the high stakes of startup it’s crucial to start with a good strategy well-executed. It will ensure you grow from the very beginning.

Your team is going to set the course and your marketing is going to ensure that you have enough business to keep on that course. So choose your people wisely, even if it takes a long time, and market like your business depends on it. Because it does.

Anna Ray