3 Things Every Aspiring Entrepreneur Should Know

Your startup isn’t a company. Yet.

Former dotcom entrepreneur Steve Blank describes the startup, not as a full-fledged company, but as a temporary organization that is searching for a viable business model. To put it simply, your startup is a lot like a lab experiment. You have a theory and you’ve ventured into the laboratory to test it out.

Now, what you need to understand about testing your theory is that sometimes it isn’t going to work out. Steve Blank and other serial entrepreneurs know this all too well. Sometimes there is a fatal flaw in the great plan. Other times, the fledgling startup can mature into a company with only a few minor tweaks.

To avoid committing to a fatally flawed plan, Blank proposes building an audience before launching your company.

The process of pursuing information to create your business model is what Blank calls the “lean” approach. It is very similar to beta testing. You create a product with a predictably affordable ROI and then launch it to see how people react. Feedback, not profit, is the goal of the lean startup.

The feedback produced by your most basic product will help you refine your major launch and will provide a solid foundation for your business model. For more information on the lean startup, click here.

Know who you are.

Building an audience as the foundation for your company helps you refine your product, but it also helps you establish a presence. Using the lean startup approach may not allow you to acquire a large customer base, but by advertising with positive feedback from clients, you will appear more credible.

In the world of consumerism, people trust other people. Positive social media feedback and client testimonies will give you the appearance of a reliable and trustworthy company. A breach of trust will destroy even the largest of companies, but a lack of credibility can crush a startup before it even reaches the gates.

Don’t give people the chance to ask, “Who are these guys? Why should I trust them?” If they get to that point, they probably won’t buy. The truth is people don’t buy from strangers. It may take time to establish your brand, but there are no shortcuts you can take when building trust. Let them get to know you and they will see that you have their best interests at heart.

Be prepared to market yourself like crazy.

You know what people like about your product, and you know what could make your product better. Improvements made to your basic product – in response to your audience – are great selling points when marketing your new company and its products.

No product sells itself.

It is your job to show people how they would benefit from your product. If you are uncertain about launching a marketing strategy, you can hire a college student as an intern (providing educational experience, of course). Young adults, or digital natives, are especially savvy with social media. Such media outlets are optimal for entrepreneurs who want feedback from their target audiences.

You will, however, need to set firm guidelines about your brand image. Some of the biggest social media disasters occur when a company offends its target audience. The repercussions of social media blunders can be swift and painful.

You may or may not engage in traditional media marketing, but social media is a great testing platform to find out what engages your audience. By using your social media audience to refine your marketing strategy, even in your startup days, you will be better prepared to launch a full-fledged media saturating campaign once the cash comes rolling in.


A lifelong conversationalist and born writer, it was only a matter of time before Maria Rainier became a full-time blogger. Now she spends her time blogging about trending higher education issues such as the online degrees vs traditional degrees question and the values of distance learning. Please share some comments with her.

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