The startup euphoria is everywhere, even in the remotest regions of this world. Perhaps this can be attributed to the sense of ownership that comes with owning a startup, or the sense of belonging that comes with being able to call something your own. Maybe it’s the over emphasis on entrepreneurship as the bedrock of success for any economy. Whichever the case may be, startups are here with us, and they are here to stay.
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I won’t go into the never-ending argument of how to define a startup; I don’t think I have enough strength to write about that. However one key element that runs through every startup venture is innovation. More often than not, you hear people say, “I have an idea which I think will change the world”, “I want to do this or that to help my community”, “I have this new product that is better than any other on the market”, etc. These assertions maybe true to some extent. However, one thing that almost every entrepreneur seems to ignore is their ability and capacity to sell their product or idea either for profit or for recognition.
The hard truth which most people try to ignore is this; if a young man or woman, still in their prime, with very little or no work experience decides to be an entrepreneur, they almost always are looking forward to make a profit out of it be it in cash or in kind. I am not making these assertions out of a vacuum, neither I’m I speaking based on a research someone did — I am speaking from my very own real life experience. I have had the privilege to be in the startup scene for quite sometime, and I can tell you for a fact, 90% of the startups I knew in 2010 are no more in operation.
Recently, I asked a colleague of mine to help with some research on edu-tech startups and this is the response he gave me after almost a week of research “I knew about 5 edutech startups who were onto something great, but as I did my research I realized that they have all vanished into thin air, with not even a website address to contact them”.
You will hear these stories over and over again, and as you dig deeper, and ask why, you will find out that they had a great product but they could not make enough money to sustain the business. This is the hard truth that any entrepreneur should tackle head on. Forget about how cool your idea is, forget about the technology you will be building it with, focus 100% of your attention on how to sell the product. If you can overcome this aspect of your business, everything else will fall in place. Sales is an art; you can’t copy and paste a sales strategy. Your sales strategy must reflect your persona and that of your business. It can be subtle, it can loud but it should reflect whom you are and what you want to achieve. That is the only way you can get that sales strategy to work for you.
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I remember sometime back I was taking part in a startup pitch session, while my colleagues were busy rehearsing their slides and their pitches, I just sat there looking at them. They thought I was being arrogant, thinking I know it all, but the reality for me was that I never do a pitch practice and it’s something I have had to discover about my persona. Whenever I deliver a pitch, I do not go according to what the slide says verbatim, I look at the body language of the audience, and there and then in the heat of the moment, I develop a pitch that will suite them. If I do it the other way round, it will end up in a disaster. Thus by knowing my persona and developing a sales strategy that fits me, I have managed to chalk some successes in startups pitches; personalizing your sales strategy is the key ingredient in achieving some level success in its implementation.
In conclusion, I encourage you to do your own research and you will find out that if you want your startup to stand the test of time, you need sell your startup and sell it well.