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7 Mistakes You’re Making Trying to Grow Your Startup

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Running a startup is genuinely hard work. On any given day, founders and early employees have to make dozens of decisions that can drastically alter the direction of their company one way or another. Growing a startup is an even bigger challenge; many industry experts expect nine out of every ten startups to fail ultimately.

With an abundance of low-cost and easy-to-use software tools available to anyone with an internet connection, it has never been easier to start your own business than it is today. If you are one of those courageous entrepreneurs venturing out into uncharted startup waters, you might want to pay particular attention. Here are seven all-too-common mistakes that can quickly derail your progress:

#1. Lack of Product / Market Fit

product-fit

CB Insights, an analytics company, focusing on startups and venture capital, looked at over 100 post-mortems – those blog posts written by founders detailing why their businesses failed – in search of insights into why so many startups shut their doors. It turns out that the number one reason, which was noted by 42% of polled companies, is the lack of market need for their product. This reason may seem like a silly problem to have, but it is more complicated than one may think. Product /market fit can loosely be defined as a situation in which a product or service is satisfying the needs of a market. How do you know you have found a product /market fit? Most startup veterans say “you’ll feel it when it happens.” When your product is selling quickly, organically spreading through word-of-mouth, and being used consistently it may have reached that golden point.

#2. Unit Economics That Just Don’t Work

Put simply; you need to make more money per customer than you spend to acquire and service that customer. If the unit economics do not work out in your favor, chances of long-term success are minimal. Spotify, the behemoth music streaming service, has over 90 million subscribers and around $2 billion in annual revenues. Yet, when you take a closer look at the company’s numbers, it seems to be in troublesome waters, having to pay out well over 50% of revenue to licensees. It is important to understand your unit economics and do everything possible to create a sustainable business model.

#3. Avoiding Customer Development

What do you know about your customers? Did you take the time to create buyer personas for your target market? The proven way to grow a startup is to start with the niche group of people most likely to love what you offer and be willing to overlook early growing pains when your product is not quite 100% perfect. There is an inherent danger in trying to boil the ocean when marketing to your customers. When Uber first launched the on-demand car service could have targeted “all the people who take cabs,” but that would have been too big of a project to tackle so early on. Instead, it focused on young and affluent city dwellers who wanted to “roll around San Francisco like ballers” and spread from there.

#4. Focusing on Customer Acquisition Over Retention

customer-loyalty

Nearly everyone knows some version of this adage: It costs approximately five times the amount to acquire a new user than to retain an existing one. While the top of your funnel is certainly critical, do not overlook the importance of keeping customers happy and engaged to maximize your marketing efforts.

#5. Ignoring the Data in Marketing

The term “growth hacking” has become popular over the last few years and for a good reason. The title references a new type of startup marketer, one who approaches tasks with a scientific mind, running experiments and iterating quickly to optimize efforts in the name of results. With so many data analytics tools available for websites, mobile apps, and digital marketing campaigns, you have no reason not to measure everything.

#6. Hiring the Wrong People at the Wrong Time

Businesses are only as good as the people who run them, and this has never been truer than with startups. As the company grows, your needs change and different types of employees are necessary. A two-person startup can get away with having one CTO who does all programming, but a 10-person company with plans to launch a mobile app will need an iOS developer and an Android developer. You do not need a Public Relations manager when you do not even have a product or office, but you might need one three years down the road. Start with generalists who can cover the most ground, then grow the team with specialists when you have funding and/or revenue and a distinct need for employees with particular skill sets.

#7. Having an Unwillingness to Adapt Attitude

adaptation

A pivot is when a startup decides to change a major part of its business and move in another direction. Before Instagram was Instagram, it was a check-in app called Burbn. The founding team looked at how popular the photo-sharing feature within Burbn was and decided to pivot to an app focused solely on that aspect. The idea you had when first launching your company may not be the winner you hoped for, but there may be a better one hidden away. By following principles like Lean Startup, you will be able to make more informed and data-backed decisions.

The first step in avoiding perilous mistakes like these is to acknowledge their existence. Once you have identified and studied potential pitfalls, you will be positioned well to grow your startup the best way possible.

Creative

How to Rock Wireframing with PowerMockup

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How to Rock Wireframing with PowerMockup

Wireframe exists to allow designers to plan and design a website/application at the structural level. Whether you’re new to the industry or you’ve been active in it for years, you’ve no doubt heard of this term.

Many designers tend to dive straight into the design, from picking fonts and colors to choosing the imagery. But there are many benefits to kick things off from wireframing – although it is an additional step, it saves time, makes it easier to spot usability issues, and allows creating a solid user experience.

Essentially, a wireframe is a low fidelity layout of the design which has two primary objectives:

1. Presents the outline of structure and layout
2. Plan out the user needs and journeys

Wireframes are used in the early development process to establish the basic structure of a page before visual design and content are added. Similar to the blueprint of a building, it illustrates details of the digital product clearly and accurately. It is an essential step in translating an idea for a digital product into a reality.

Other than using wireframes to plan out a project, it can come in handy when explaining to clients on how the proposed website or application works. Merely explaining through words or writing leaves the vast majority of functions to their imagination and also room for error. Wireframes are helpful in squaring this circle, making it easier for communication between project members or clients.

 

PowerMockup: PowerPoint Wireframe and Prototyping Tool

PowerMockup is a wireframing tool that makes building wireframes easy. It provides a massive arsenal of user interface elements and icons made entirely with PowerPoint shapes. You can quickly build wireframes for your digital project from this library of elements right from inside PowerPoint.

 

The One-Click Installation

Installation of PowerMockup is effortless. Simply execute the program, and it will automatically install itself onto PowerPoint.

PowerMockUp - Installation

 

Familiar and Simple User Interface

When someone seeks to create a familiar user interface (UI), the objective should be to construct a simple process between the user and the product, such that it meets their needs, while providing a UI that is very intuitive and reduces the learning curve.

As PowerMockup runs on PowerPoint, the interface is basically Microsoft PowerPoint itself. It is brilliant as PowerPoint is one of the most used softwares for the majority of the professionals. Adding, removing and editing of elements is as easy as editing a PowerPoint slide.

PowerMockup - PowerMockup

PowerMockup - Editing

 

Building a Website Wireframe

Comparing to most wireframing tools in the market, PowerMockup is considered decent with sufficient elements to construct the wireframes you need for your digital projects. Leveraging on a drag-and-drop method, you can easily choose what you need from the library and add them to the project at the desired location. No coding or training needed, you can build interactive wireframes and prototypes visually.

PowerMockup - Guides

PowerMockup - Alignment

There are also guides/gridlines for element alignments and formatting tools on PowerPoint that can help in design consistency for your project.

 

Unlimited Possibilities

If you find that the elements that come with PowerMockup is not enough, you have an option to download more shapes from its database. You can also create your own items to the shape library. Simply select a shape on a PowerPoint slide, click on “Add Shape,” and you’ve added a custom shape into the library for future use.

PowerMockup - Download Shapes

 

Final Verdict

PowerMockup is a rapid wireframing tool that helps you work faster and smarter. It reproduces the experience of wireframe designing on a professional software, but using PowerPoint. Looking at the final product, who would have guessed that it is done using PowerPoint. It doesn’t take six years of study or a thick manual to use PowerMockup effectively. The simple UI and intuitive controls allow you to master the tool in minutes. It only takes me 15-20 minutes to re-create a wireframe for my website.

PowerMockup - 1

PowerMockup - 2

PowerMockup - 3

PowerMockup - Final

 

Pre-requisites: Microsoft PowerPoint 2007, 2010, 2013 or 2016 (including Office 365) for Windows

Cost: From $59 .99 to $2,099.50 (Download Free Trial)

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Content Marketing

Top Ways Content Marketing Will Change Your Business Strategies

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Content Marketing Will Change Business Strategies

How will you ensure that you are promoting your business with ease and in the best way? One significant way would be to keep your marketing strategy up-to-date. You must keep the business on the leading edge in an effort to stay relevant and, more to the point, effective and efficient. In today’s context, it means focusing on content marketing, that’s precisely why this article serves as a guide on why the content marketing is vital and you ought to be concentrating your efforts.

 

Content Marketing – What Is It?

Content marketing is a marketing approach to making and sharing useful, appropriate and consistent contents for attracting and acquiring a clearly-defined target audience – with the goal of generating profitable customer action.

For example, say you are a personal coach as well as your small business has plateaued in the last year or even longer. You are still seeking to grow your client base, and thus you begin a blog site and write 2-3 keyword-optimized articles each week, which demonstrate how to exercise, eat healthily, and slim down. These articles start to get ranking in search engines like Google as time passes and when spring hits, individuals will search on the internet for tips on how to improve the fitness for beach time. Due to your efforts, readers run into your blog organically, go through your articles, and keep returning to discover from you on a regular basis. In some cases, readers of your blog will take preferred call-to-actions which drive positive Return-On-Investment (ROI).

 

Why Is The Content Marketing Important To The Business?

Compelling content can assist you to build customer relationships while preventing ineffective “hard sell” strategies. It displays your “subject-matter” skills and increases trust by merely highlighting significant topics which affect your potential customers. Well-crafted articles can draw visitors to your social networks and website, boosting your overall performance on search results. Furthermore, it provides audiences the option to keep sharing your contents with their network of friends.

Here are perfect reasons to start creating expert content for your business today:

1. Build Faith with the Traffic

You can establish yourself as an expert in your industry by making more useful content and sharing with your target audience. People trust professionals and seek the services of them to solve their problems.

2. Increase Brand Awareness

Increase Brand Awareness

For budding businesses, brand awareness is something that is commonly lacking. Most people will not be aware of your business; therefore you should work to change that. By leveraging on content marketing, you can significantly increase targeted traffic to your website, which also means you can have quality, consistent, targeted visitors and back-links. This change can result in the growth of online visibility and awareness, generating more leads for your business via your content.

3. Perfect For (SEO) Organic Search

Perfect For (SEO) Organic Search

Search engine algorithms are often changing. However, one fact that will never change is how they value keywords and content. When you consistently make and keep content on your website up-to-date. Your website generally will get better ranking in search engines.

For example, if a user fires up the search engine and types a phrase or keyword, the search engine will work hard to give him/her the best and most relevant information relating to the search query. If you are making expert contents for sharing valuable and useful information to your targeted buyers instead of spammy sales copy, Google will identify that piece of content to be useful and of high relevancy. As a result, your website will get better search engine positions, driving increased organic traffic.

4. Produce Leads For The Business

Produces Leads For The Business

Generating leads or driving sales for the business is definitely the key purpose that marketers execute any marketing campaign. If you need new potential buyers to visit your website and ultimately buy what you are promoting, content marketing provides an avenue for strangers to get you via your informative and useful contents.

Every content you put forth, and every content that is shared will drive organic traffic. By nurturing these traffic, businesses can push them down the marketing funnel, converting them into successful leads or sales.

5. Give People Reasons To Return To Your Site

When you offer people informative and helpful content, you are beginning to develop a strong and healthy relationship. People will come back to you for information and updates. By building this relationship, you encourage visitors to your website to return, because you are someone they trust and know.

 

Conclusion

There will always be tactics which produce short-lived, quick spikes in leads and traffic. There will also be methods which may have absolutely no business influence whatsoever. However, investing in appropriate content marketing right now is going to pay you back for a long time.

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Advertising

How Can You Use Quizzes to Generate Leads? – INTERACT

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Interact - Step by Step

The state of digital marketing is always changing. Therefore marketers have to keep up with the pressure of adapting when necessary. Digital marketers are continually finding the most creative ways of generating leads or collecting new email subscribers. With the crowded online space, it is increasingly harder for marketers to stand above the crowd. Moreover, research has shown that the average human attention span is rapidly declining. And this will mean that the method you are adopting now for your lead generation or email collection will no longer work as effectively.

There is a rising popularity where quizzes have become a recurring motif on one of the favorite method of lead generation. Quizzes are a method that is slightly overlooked but a potential pot of gold – and it honestly makes lead generation fun.

According to Steve Olenski, you can gather tons of information about your website visitors, when they are having fun answering a quiz, and it is an excellent way to generate leads.

In this article, I will recommend a tool you can use for setting up fantastic quizzes and guide you through how to create a quiz with this tool which can have a potential of growing your email list by 300%!

(more…)

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Do you want to triple sales growth, understand digital marketing components and improve your competitive edge?

This book is your go-to-guide for discerning digital marketing and social media and understanding how to perfect these as an art, rather than functional steps to build your business.

 

By Vincent Wee