Isn’t running a startup fun? Well, it is for a while, but unless you can figure out a way to make money, you won’t last very long.
Whether you are venture-funded or self-funded, you have to figure out how to turn your startup into a real business. Although it my seem inconceivable, it’s not impossible.
Here are 7 tactics that will help turn your startup into a real company:
Never climb the corporate ladder
If you are trying to turn your startup into a real business, you need to increase your revenue. The best way to get money for your startup is to convince large companies, typically sitting on piles of cash, to pay you.
Whether you know someone at these Fortune 500 companies or not, you can get in the door and make a sale. Here’s what you need to do.
- Go through this list and see which companies you can sell your product or service to.
- Once you have determined who would be a good fit, look up who the CEO of that company is and Google that person’s name with the word “email” in it so you can find his or her email address.
- After you have the CEO’s email and name, shoot him or her an email that goes something like this: “Hey John, I know you are busy, but if you could forward this email to your VP of marketing, that would be great. I have a few ideas how you could be making a lot more money.” The goal of this email is to get in touch with the decision-maker of the department you are trying to reach.
Although you’ll rarely get a reply from the CEO of these large companies, I found that well over 20% of the time, they’ll forward your email to the person you are trying to reach. When they do, you’ll get a call or an email from that person who will hear what you have to say because when the CEO forwards him or her your email, he or she will assume that you know the CEO.
If that person assumes that you know the CEO, there is a much higher chance that you’ll close a deal. The funny thing about this is that the person you are talking to will rarely ever ask you if you actually know the CEO.
Make competitors fight for you
When you are pitching a deal to a company, it’s hard to close it because you want their money more than they want to pay you. So, you have to figure out a way to turn the tables.
The best way to do this is to pitch to that company’s competition at the same time. This way, they’ll have to fight for you, and you can tell them that you are only going to work with one company in that industry.
For example, if you were pitching both Sam’s Club and Costco, you could tell each company that their competition is interested in working with you. This will cause both companies to get defensive, and they will actually take the time to look at what you are offering. Plus, it will make them move a lot faster.
For this to work, all you have to do is shoot an email over to someone who works for the competition and pitch them what you have to offer. The person you talk to doesn’t have to be a decision-maker; you just have to find someone to talk to. You don’t want to lie when you tell a company that “you are talking to their competition,” so make sure you actually talk to someone at the other company.
Create a sense of urgency
As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, you have to convince companies to move quickly. Whether it is a business development deal, sales deal, or just a write-up about you, you have to get everyone to move faster.
The easiest way to get someone to move quickly is to give him or her a solid deadline. For example, if you are trying to create a business partnership with another company, let them know that you need an answer by an X date. Of if you are trying to get press from an online magazine, let them know that they have to publish information about your company by an X date as that is when you are launching a Y feature.
When you feel no sense of urgency, what do you do? You take your time, right? Well, that’s what happens when you approach other people too. Especially if they are busy, they definitely will move slowly. So to solve this, you need to create a sense of urgency.
Convince bloggers to blog
Convincing bloggers to blog isn’t hard, but convincing them to blog about your company is. The more of them you can convince, the more links you’ll get. And as you already know, those links will drive referring traffic as well as help boost your search engine rankings.
The best way to convince bloggers to blog about your company is to build a relationship with them. You can do this through an email conversation. Your first email should look something like this:
I have to say, I’m a huge fun. I love Quick Sprout and the great information you provide on business and marketing.
I know you are a busy guy, so I’ll make it short. I just recommend that you write a blog post on “advanced SEO tactics” as I feel it will benefit your readers.
Have a great day!
After you send you first email, wait for a response back. If you don’t get one within a few days, move on and email the next blogger. If you do get a response, build the relationship by commenting on that blogger’s blog and even shooting him or her an email with some more ideas on how the blogger can improve his or her content, blog design, or anything else that you can think of.
Finally, after a few back and forth emails, you should shoot the blogger an email like this:
When you get a quick moment, I would love to get your feedback on my website kissmetrics.com as it would really mean a lot to me. And if you like it, feel free to share it with your blog readers.
By the way, if there is anything I can do for you, don’t hesitate to ask.
Hope the weather’s nice in sunny Orange County. It’s raining here in Seattle.
Don’t list prices on your website
Who says you have to have standardized pricing? Don’t get me wrong, having pricing on your website makes things simple, but if you are selling big ticket stuff with high margins, it’s typically best if you don’t mention prices.
I’ve found that the best price to pitch a customer on is the highest one they can afford. You usually can find this out by asking them “what’s your budget?” Sometimes they won’t have one, but if you ask them for a budget range, they should have something.
Once you figure it out, you can come up with a price that you want to pitch them on. Just make sure that you can offer them a low cost solution or product if you get some push back on the price. This way, you won’t lose the deal if they decide to spend less.
Follow your competitor’s followers
Chances are your competition is on Twitter. Whether it’s the people that work at that company or the company itself, someone within the organization uses Twitter.
One way to reach more potential customers is to see who is following your competition, and follow them. If they are following your competition, they would probably also be interested in what you have to offer.
Once you start following them, you’ll notice that 20 to 30% should start following you back, assuming that you are tweeting good content. After you have some relevant followers, every once in a while, you can tweet about your company and what it has to offer. This will increase your chances of taking customers away from your competition.
And if you are too lazy to do this manually, you can always use one of these tools to help speed up the process.
The best recommendations are 3rd party recommendations
If you want to move upstream and land larger deals, have your customers get them for you. One thing that I always offer my current customers, which I find very effective, is a promise that if they help me land a much larger deal, I’ll give them my product or services for free.
For example, if someone pays you $5,000 a month, you won’t make that much off the deal compared to a deal worth $100,000 a month for the same product or service. Believe me, people will pay a lot more money for the same thing if they are a big company.
So, if your $5,000 customer tells his or her friend who works at a big company how great you are and that they have to hire your company, there is a good chance you’ll get the deal. It’ll happen because you aren’t pitching. You now have a 3rd party screaming at the top of his or her lungs how great you are.
Keep on moving upstream and have your customers pitch your products and services for you. It is a good way to grow. This is especially effective if your current customers have graduated from a top MBA school like Harvard. They’ll typically be connected with other powerful executives.
Who says you have to be a startup forever? Isn’t your goal to make more money and create a “real business”? Well, if you use the sneaky tactics I mentioned above, you’ll start seeing your revenue go up, and you’ll be on your way to creating a legitimate business.
Do you know of other sneaky ways to turn your startup into a real business?