One of my least favorite things is when a startup tells me that they need to wait on doing marketing until they are selling something. When our founders started HubSpot they didn't even have a product really. This was like 7 years ago...They were at MIT together in grad school and came up with this concept that no one had ever heard of before. They decided to start a blog about inbound marketing because they saw that the marketing space was moving in a direction and they wanted to take advantage of it.
Why do startups happen?
They happen because someone smart sees a need for something to fix something. Someone or a group of people notice that something is changing. Something in a market space is trending towards something and they have a brilliant idea to change it and do something about it.
A lot of "normal people" out there would never be courageous enough to start working on a project or startup. But the ones that do see something that they think they can fix.
When to take an idea from idea to startup?
You see that something is happening in your market everyday or more and more everyday. Most startups are born out of existing companies and out of existing employees at a company they are working at. They see something happening day to day and realize there is an answer or a better way to make something happen.
I see this happen every day even at my own company. Let's take an example- I see something trending in the marketing space...meaning that everyday when I am on the phone with prospects I am noticing more and more that something needs to be built in our software to answer a problem marketers are seeing. We have a way of dealing with this internally to make our product better. We have a little widget built in SFDC where we can offer up ideas to product that we think should be built. I think this is great way for the people on the front lines (meaning sales, service, etc, the people who work with customers and potential customers) to be able to help lead what product is doing.
That works for us and works for me because I don't ever come up with good ideas that wouldn't impact our product that I sell here at HubSpot.
But for those of you out there who do see something that you think you should change. Go after it. Try to make that thing better.
Number one thing to do when you know you have an idea that could work.
Start writing about it. No not about your company but about your concept or idea. Think about what the problem is that you are solving for. Think about how your idea or concept is going to fix that problem. Come up with a name for that concept and get to work creating content that is targeted at your target market so they can find it.
Over time they will start to find you and if you have a blog subscription on your blog you can start to add users to your database. That way when you are ready to "market" to get leads you have a database to work off of.
The smartest thing you can do before you start selling or even before you have a product is blogging.
Start blogging early on about your concept. At HubSpot our founders idea of inbound marketing was what they started their blog about. Then when they did have a product a year or so later they had followers and people they could sell to. People who wanted to support HubSpot just because of the concepts we were teaching marketers.
Most of the time people out there who you are targeting or the market you are trying to fix is not going to know what your concept is. The words probably don't even exist yet. Don't get stuck on that. Make your blog and content about that subject but realize that at first people won't just know those words. They might be searching those things right away as you start out but over time as your educate them more and more with your content they will start to talk about your concept. The market will start to use your words. It might take a while so stay consistent, stay positive and stay focused on getting people to find you.