There is no better advice when it comes to succeeding in any endeavor than to aggressively seek out those who have gone before you
and succeeded and learn first hand everything you can about how they did it. This article by Entrpreneuer Magazine called "What Sets Apart the Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America" is a great place to read about some success stories but
the real stories are multi-dimensional which isn't easily translated into print. Find a mentor, at any level. I'm involved in a program called "Micro Mentor" that may be of assistance if you are unable to find one or more mentors on your own.
Do you have a well-formed idea?
Test your market before you jump ship.
Use a dashboard to manage the information explosion.
Use Ash Maurya's Lean Startup Canvas coupled with Steve Blank's Customer Development guidelines
Keywords are the key to effective online marketing: Identify the best keywords for connecting with your customers
Identify the major influencers using these keywords online.
Use tools like SmartMenu to manage the information explosion that comes with starting a business that leverages online marketing.
Are your ideas "well-formed as described in this blog post"?
Begin with the end in mind by asking something like: "In 5 years, when I look back on this company, how will I know that my company kicked ass? What is your exit strategy?
Don't spend years climbing a startup ladder only to find out later that it is leaning against the wrong wall!
Begin with the end in mind and keep it there throughout your journey. As opportunities present themselves, ask yourself: "Will this get me there?"
As the seas boil and the winds toss you around, this guiding star will keep you on course towards a distant shore of success as defined by you.
Assess and Minimize Risk
See Guidelines on assessing startup risk and this Business Assumption Analyzer
There are ways to reduce your risk by thinking about certain aspects before you launch. Use this Startup Risk Calculator to give you one measure of your current chances.
Every business is different, so this is more of a thinking tool than an exact measurement. Try asking yourself questions to see if you can find ways to get your risk in the 50-70% range.
Use the "Lookalike" audience method. Use the "Google AdWords Display Planner".
Facebook makes all of their demographic and interests data available to you for free via. audience insights
Similarweb: insight into the web traffic analytics for any domain name or mobile app.
Use LaunchRock, a free tool for quickly building a one page description of your product and gathering email addresses. This tool requires no programming experience and provides the following dashboard with analytics, etc. To try it out, I created this page for
the enterprise version of smartmenu in a few minutes. Question: do you have to build your product before you create this one page test site? Answer: No.
Obviously your ability to build a team of smart people that complement your strengths is critical. This is covered in countless articles so I won't go into it here.
The importance of Napoleon Hill's mastermind principle cannot be overemphasized here.
Find people who's minds blend well with yours. Thoughts occur and varying brain wave frequencies. Avoid oil and water scenarios.
With the right people, 1+1 = 100. With the wrong people, 1+1 = 0 or < 0. cofounderslab.com is a resource as well as this local cofounderslab meetup.
Do not discuss your business plans with anyone outside your "circle of trust". It is both unfair and unwise to expect others to be able to effectively contribute
to your strategic planning who are not in the loop. Loose lips sinks ships.
You have an idea. Now what?
Create a dashboard for staying grounded.
Pick 5 numbers/ratios that you will monitor and manage. Design ratios to capture the relationship between multiple key numbers. As time and resources permit, build information systems that automate the calculation of these metrics. One of these metrics should be "Months to maximum negative cumulative cash flow".
Dave McClure's Ignite talk on "Startup Metrics for Pirates" is legendary. More info here and here.
Create a Lean Canvas (based on Ash Maurya's Running Lean Ideas).
If you can afford to hire an online marketing expert that is by far the best way to go.
Things are moving very quickly online, and the number of great tools is expanding rapidly.
If you are just getting started this free tool will help.
The steps for using this tool are as follows:
Enter a website address and click the "Lookup Twitter Info" button. it will attempt to
guess the associated Twitter handle and suggest some keywords based on the title.
Adjust the Twitter hash tags as necessary.
Click the "Create SmartPage" button.
A link to your new web page should appear at the bottom of the page that is
customized based on the information you provided. This generated "SmartPage"
contains a ton of useful web links, search tools and even a Lean Startup business model
canvas template. Here's an example
Notice the "Help" in the lower right corner which provides a description of each button on the page.
Ok, you are probably asking, how do you modify the generated SmartPage? Currently the only
way to make changes to this page is using "SmartMenu", the software utility I
created to help people deal with infoglut. You can learn more about this tool
here. After installing SmartMenu, just drag and drop the link to your SmartPage onto
SmartMenu. Advanced users will find it much easier to modify the SmartPage by selecting the "Designer" option from the "View" submenu.
I will publish a video ASAP to walk you through all of this. The SmartMenu download includes a free 30 day trial. It costs $10 to
purchase which is not bad considering it took over 2,000 hours to produce along with this web site.
The remainder of this roadmap provides a sample of many of the tools included in the generated start page.
My hope is to eventually provide a detailed description of each one but frankly, I am still
learning how to use them myself.
Screenshots from the various websites included in the customized startup web pages
There is a ton of information here. I am new to social media marketing. There are a ton of online tools
out there and my head is swimming from all of the information I had to process to narrow things down
to this select set of tools. It is difficult to remember which site does what, so I included screenshots
here to give you an overview of each site so that you don't have to visit each one to determine which will best
serve your current needs.
Backlinks: Demostrates the use of Moz Web site research tools for SEO and backlink analysis
Follower Analytics: Analyze followers using Followerwonk, a Moz tool
Twitter Search: Single Twitter search using all of your hashtags
FollowerWonk: Find experts with specified keyword in their profile using this Moz tool
LinkedIn Search: Find groups and influencers on LinkedIn using your hashtag keywords
fb WeightControl: Facebook keyword search for WeightControl
Topsy Analytics: Topsy Keyword Analytics. Also provides keyword search and social trend summaries
Hashtags.org Analytics: Prolific users and related hashtags
Steve Blank: Search the web for topics related to Steve Blank, Inventor of Customer Development
LeanStartup: Search Eric Ries Web site for Lean Startup Guidance
LeanStack: Search Ash Maurya's web site
STTS: Search Startup Tech for Tech Startups knowledge base
Social Times: Search AdWeek's Social Times Publication
Search Engine Land: Leading daily publication that covers all aspects of the search marketing industry
Business Assumption Analyzer: Great tool by Diana Kander https://dkander.wordpress.com
Dashboard: Google Docs spreadsheet example of startup dashboard
Roadmap: An overall plan for using the content in this SmartMenu and other tech startup resources
Bens Blog: Ben Horowitz?s blog - One of the leading venture capitalists of our time
Business Model Canvas
It is helpful to have access to your BMC when you are away from the whiteboard. There are some great online
tools for tracking this, but early startups might try entering their information in their SmartMenu and publishing it
to the web for access from your SmartPage.