Isn’t running a startup fun? Well it is for a while, but unless you can figure out a way to make money you wont last very long.
Whether you are venture funded or you’ve bootstrapped your company, 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 into your startup is to convince large companies to pay you as they are typically sitting on piles of cash.
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 their name with the word “email” in it so you can find their email address.
- After you have their email and name, shoot them 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 on 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. And when doing so, 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 your email, he will assume that you know the CEO.
If he or she 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 table.
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 give them a spiel about how 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 actually spend 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 on 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 quick. Whether it is a business development deal, sales deal, or just getting a publisher to write on you, you have to get everyone to move faster.
The easiest way to get someone to move quick is to give them 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 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 X date as that is when you are launching Y feature.
When you feel no sense of urgency, what do you? You take your time, right? Well that’s what happens when you approach other people. 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 a blogger to blog about your company is to build a relationship with them. You can do this through an email conversation. You first email should look something like this:
I have to say, I’m a huge fun. I love Quick Sprout and how you write great information 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 up the relationship by commenting on their blog and even shooting them an email with some more ideas on how they can improve their content, blog design, or anything else that you can think of.
Finally after a few back and forth emails, you should shoot them 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 and 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 they are looking to spend less.
Follow your competitor’s followers
The 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. Because 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 you have to offer. This will increase you’re 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 up stream 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 $5000 customer tells their friend who works at a big company how you are great and how they have to hire your company, there is a good chance you’ll get the deal. The reason being: you aren’t pitching, you now have a 3rd party screaming at the top of their lungs about how great you are.
Keep on moving up stream 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 any other sneaky ways to turn your startup into a real business?