I speak with startups daily, weekly, monthly about their business model and the types of things that they can do to help them generate awareness and exposure for their business. Working at HubSpot has given me exposure to more business models than even my job where I was working in Private Wealth Management. I have learned about 100's of business models over the past year and a half. Everything from software companies to manufacturing companies to mom and pop shops.
How? At HubSpot I work in a vertical where I mainly speak with software companies or tech companies that have either at one point been a startup or are a funded startup looking to increase their marketing efforts specifically for lead generation. I realize that lots of startups get to a point where they have grown strictly through what people call "word of mouth" and "referrals". Overtime they get to a point where they need help with their marketing efforts so they can put a system in to place to help them manage their everyday marketing activities. I help them understand why they are in a position to start to grow with online methods of marketing. I expose them to that scenario and explain why they are a good fit for what we call inbound marketing.
In this process of speaking with startups and established companies over the past year and 8 months I have come to realize that there should be a profession that is specific to startup consulting. Why not call it what it really is.
Startup consulting helps startups understand what they need to do to grow: Startups have problems. Startups have ideas. Startups need to define their market positioning. Startups need help.
Myself and all the other Inbound Marketing Specialists at HubSpot should really call themselves Startup Consultants. Every company was once a startup. Aspects of even established companies have startupy parts of them.
Here's what I think a startup consultant does:
- Talk with the company about their vision for what they want to solve for. Why are you a company? What are you really trying to do with your company? Why do you exist? This involves talking to them about their goals overall and why they came to be. What got them to this point and why are they so passionate about what they do?
- After you understand their vision for why they are solving for something in the first place allow them to explain to you how they plan on doing that. No fluffy things will work here. Do they have a solid plan on how you are going to expose their idea to their market? Do they know how hard or easy it is going to be to do that? Do they have data that can backup their ideas on why and how their plan is going to work? Don't base your ideas off of fluffy maybes, have data that speaks to why you are doing what you are doing. Don't throw things out there just to see if they might work. Know they will work.
- What types of things will keep you from reaching the goals that you have? These things that you help them with should be specific and you will want to make sure they have tried to reach their goals already before you give the startup advice and consulting. Have they really, really, REALLY tried to attack their plan, vision and goals without talking to you? Have they put money into it before speaking with you?
- When do they want to achieve these things that they have spoken to you about?
- A good Startup Consulting process or good Startup Consultant would actually look at your business model and tell you whether or not they think it is a viable model or not. Do you actually have a way to dominate your market and is there need for something like this in the world? If the answer is yes to that, that's great. But, if you want to grow by means of the internet then you need to understand how long it is going to take you to have people in your target market start finding you. In terms of the internet, the 1st thing you should start to think about is whether or not you can actually start to rank for keywords and keyword sets that will get you good relevant traffic through organic search.
If you can actually rank quickly for these keywords that your business model solves for then you can start to create content to allow people to find you through search engines. Now you are in the game. You can begin to get visitors for terms that you think your target market is searching for. This is Step 1 for your startup.
Once you, as a Startup Consultant understands the business model of the startup you are working with and their vision for world domination you must explain to them how to market their business. This happens by telling them to use their brain and not their money. If your startup team will put time and thought into content creation on a weekly basis they will start to do what we just discussed in step 1 of ranking organically for problems that they solve for. Now you have traffic from your target market.
Want to know what step 2 is?