Startups start by selling to people they know. They build their pipeline in the beginning stages by working people in their network. When you start a company you are likely using your network as your only strategy up front. You started your company because you saw a need or a challenge in the world that you thought you could solve for. So you started a company. Good. That is awesome! But, you need to stop thinking in the "now" and start thinking in the "future" too. The now will soon turn into a year later, two years later, and hopefully 10 years later. The decisions you make about marketing early on are more important than you might think. Planning and strategizing on the early stages of your marketing plan are important.
Once you have a product you need to start to think about how you are going to take that product to market. Typically early stage startups think they are too small to worry about marketing early on. The smart ones do worry about it early on. Most startups (even later stage startups) don't worry enough about their lead generation and growth plans. Startups tend to think in the moment and tend not to think in the longer term sustainability of the company. They usually just have SO MUCH going on, lots of hats being worn that they are just thinking in the moment.
One of the first things I will do when I start a company will be to start doing inbound marketing early on. Inbound marketing matters and your online presence will be a huge part of how your sales reps will sell. You need to think about this early on to get a head start. It will also help you create good processes that will help you scale the right way.
This usually consists of a startup not having a real marketer on staff and if they do they wouldn't dream of using tools or software that you would have to pay for. They are focused on one thing. Selling to people in their old network/s that they can get on board early. That is all good and necessary. I do think you should do that but I think inbound marketing should be worked on as well. At some point those people in your network are going to die out. You will tap them and then what?
Instead you could be focusing on selling to your network and also creating scalable marketing processes that will have a short term and long term effect on your company's growth. The answer to your problem is inbound marketing, focus, strategy and consistency.
This idea of putting off marketing until you grow and until you get "bigger" is wrong. It can lead to a company's failure. The first thing you should put money and effort into is your marketing efforts and marketing processes.
Marketing processes early on in your company will directly relate in whether or not your company will grow as fast you would like. More importantly what will happen is as you grow and as you tap your network you will end up with no lead generation flow. You will hope that PR and media will help you get exposure which will then result in new leads and growth. That is not a strategy, that is a hope. For a while it might work. You might get a spike to your website for a day or two when the press release goes out. Are your prospects on press release sites? I doubt it. They are on Google, social media, etc and you need to assert yourself in these places to get found now and later on as you grow.
If you want to set your marketing team up for successful short term growth and then more importantly longer term, sustainable growth you need to do inbound marketing and you need to enable your team to do their job well. You can try to do inbound marketing on your own and with many point solutions but that is really hard. It does not scale and usually results in more time being spent in many different places. You could instead use software to help you build out scalable processes now for the future.
Marketing software can help a startup to develop healthy marketing processes that will scale over time. The data you will collect over time will be extremely valuable to helping your company to scale in the future.
The worst time to think about lead generation and marketing is when it is too late. When you are at a place where you desperately need leads and desperately need help with marketing. Don't let your company get to that point and learn why investing in marketing tools and developing good marketing processes early on is important.
The scalability of your company will directly result in what you do in the early days.