An essential part of running a startup is getting your company’s name out there, and to do that YOU have to get out there. It’s not enough to ask your friends to share and retweet your information – you need to personally connect with industry experts and media professionals. If you’re just starting out in the business, make sure you get your ducks in a row before calling the local news outlets or setting up investor meetings:
Update that pitch deck. Make sure the information is current, and have at least one other person proofread every single version. Nothing will destroy your credibility faster than nonsensical information, wrong numbers, or apostrophe’s in all the wrong place’s.
Check your technology. If you’re going to be giving a talk featuring your amazing website or slick new mobile app, make sure everything works. Spend a little more money on developers or website designers to get everything working reliably before your make-or-break presentation to a room full of potential investors.
Polish your elevator speech. Memorize, and practice delivering, short and long versions of what your company is all about so that you don’t freeze up when someone asks you a basic question during an interview or at a networking event.
Put together a mini-press kit. Reinventing the wheel is the biggest waste of time ever. Once you have your personal bio, headshot, company bio, social media links, one liner, mission statement, etc. crafted to your liking, put them all in one document or folder and have them ready to cut and paste into emails as soon as someone asks for info.
Go to expos and trade shows. This will get you in front of your hardest customers, and every conversation you have will help you to fine tune your product. You’ll also get to meet the competition and hear what people are saying about them.
Go to seminars and workshops. Whatever your current business roadblock is, someone has already faced it, and there’s a pretty good chance that someone else has developed a seminar to help solve the problem. Check out professional associations like IBPSA for seminars and workshops in your area. Bonus: these are also great networking opportunities, on a smaller, more manageable scale than trade shows.
Hire professionals. Yes, consultants are expensive (especially if the money hasn’t started rolling in yet), but so is wasting time and making avoidable mistakes. However, you need to do your homework, and you need to hire a lawyer to go over your contracts before you hire anyone else. Trying to get media traction? Find a public relations firm that works with new businesses. Need to start blogging, but hate to write? Hire a freelancer or a small company that can offer a la carte writing services. Doing a tv or newspaper interview about local entrepreneurs? Book a makeup artist and hair stylist before you even think about getting in front of that camera. (Please believe me when I tell you that you should never do your own hair and makeup, unless you want people to think you are a circus professional.)
Starting your own business is a lot of work, and you will need help. You can make it easier on yourself by hiring professionals who already know how to do the things that you can’t. This will leave you more time to focus on your mission and the things that you love.