Since the end of 2015 I’ve been inundated with calls and emails from eager individuals who want to make the most of the Victorian government’s $60 million innovation fund.
More recently, the calls have been in response to the federal government’s proposed amendments to existing legislation that will see greater tax incentives for startup investors like me.
Whether they’re seeking feedback for their idea or investment into their business, they’re all looking at how they can best contribute to a greater vision of making Australia the location of choice for startups.
And so as the government commits to improving access to capital for startups, I too am committing to sharing my experiences to assist others in participating in this exciting industry.
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Here are some lessons that I’ve learnt since founding WME.
1. Build a lean and efficient business
Social media is a particularly effective form of lean marketing that, when done right, can almost manage itself.
Consistency is key when implementing social media strategies, so make sure there’s always someone available to post content and reply to comments. This way your customers will know when they can expect to hear from you.
Forget about equipping your offices with the latest technology, and instead invest in staff training and professional development opportunities. When your team feels supported in their professional pursuits, then they are more likely to make valuable contributions and share their creative outputs.
2. Find ways to work fast
Operate with a sense of urgency. Not only is the startup world moving at a rapid pace, but so too are your potential customers, who will quickly move on if you aren’t responsive. We respond to leads as soon as they come in – whether it be by following up on an email or picking up the phone. Show that you’re available and proactive, and your customers will love you for it.
Use marketing automation software like Marketo to manage your time effectively and jump on those valuable leads. In addition to its automation capabilities, the web-based platform provides analytics and leads nurturing, and can be scaled up as a business needs to grow.
Despite what many may think, automation software is actually highly effective at personalising your communication with your target market, and is ideal for informing your client base of updates and ensuring that they’re exposed to your brand on a regular basis. Marketing automation is also particularly effective at increasing conversions, because they can be targeted at potential customers while addressing their barriers to make a purchase. This is vastly different to blast eDMs that are sent to a mass distribution list with no segmentation or personalisation of the messages.
3. Run a purposeful business
If you want to keep growing, then it’s essential to keep running your business like a startup.
One way to encourage this mindset is to introduce agile teams of 10 people or less who come together on a regular basis to introduce rapid fixes or different ways of tackling issues. Continue to innovate your services, your marketing and even your in-house infrastructure. While some of these aspects might not be visible to your customers, you and your team members will improve along the way and begin to work more efficiently and effectively.
I’ve seen it all too often how established companies stay still for too long and eventually die out. You need to maintain your relevancy, because this is a fast-paced industry.
On a personal note, when I learnt my partner and I would be having a baby this year, this gave me a new perspective on purpose – in business as well as life. What’s going on in your own life can act as a great motivator for staying focused and determined.
Above all, one of the key aspects to building and maintaining a purposeful business is to stay on top of all aspects of your company and your team, no matter the scale at which they grow.
Whether you decide to delegate and oversee or continue to have a hands on role in the business, it is critical to maintain this mentality in order to flourish.