The Ultimate List Of B2B And B2C Sales Strategies Differences

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B2B And B2C Sales Strategies Differences - MyStartupLand

One of the most important aspects of a sales manager role is to define an on-target sales strategy. Your B2B/B2C strategy is a make or break. You may have the best talkers, presenters and deal makers in your team. It’s going to be a long and difficult sales cycle if you have a mismatched strategy.

To get to the right strategy, your first step is to distinguish between B2B and B2C. The sales strategies that you employ are quite different, depending on the target audience.

Here are 6 key differences between B2B and B2C Sales Strategies.

B2B And B2C Sales Strategies Differences #1: Lead Pool

The lead pool size is a major differentiator between B2B and B2C sales strategies. With B2C, you are most likely targeting millions of people who need the product your company is selling. For example, let’s assume you’re selling cornflakes. To zoom in on your target audience, just count the number of people who have breakfast every day. In case you want to even target a broader market, your marketing team could design a campaign that sells cornflakes as snack and dinner alternatives.

For B2B, on the other hand, the lead pool size shrinks by the millions and is more defined by the specific requirements of each company. Let’s assume that your company is selling cornflakes-making machines. This will limit your lead pool to companies that might need these machines, such as Trader Joe’s, Kellogg’s and Nestle. You don’t even have those artisan cornflake makers in your target audience unless you can convince them to turn to machines.

Given this reality, a standardized approach is not going to work. Similar companies will go after that very same small-sized lead pool. You will need to be specific while pitching your solution.

For both B2B & B2C sales teams, here’s a good quote by SEOmoz CEO and co-founder Rand Fishkin regarding the lead pool: “Best way to sell something: don’t sell anything. Earn the awareness, respect, and trust of those who might buy.”

B2B And B2C Sales Strategies Differences #2: Required Product Knowledge

Your sales team needs to know what they’re selling. There’s no question about this. This stands true, regardless of whether your industry is focused on B2B or B2C. As Brian Halligan, CEO and co-founder of HubSpot, says: “People shop and learn in a whole new way compared to just a few years ago, so marketers need to adapt or risk extinction.”

Both B2B and B2C sales teams should know product features, design details, advantages, and disadvantages. Competitor knowledge is a must too. Nowadays buyers are more sophisticated – in both B2B and B2C industries. Buyers will know already something about your product and will ask questions. Therefore, having as much knowledge as possible becomes a necessity.

The difference lies in the depth of product knowledge required. Buyers in B2B have different information requirements from B2C ones. A mother buying cornflakes will want to know calories and sugar count in the product, as well as price and taste. Your sales team can train to answer these questions relatively quickly and become experts soon.

Compare this to a B2B sales team. Your team needs to know the specifications and technical details of the product. They need to know how this fits into the system – hardware, software and human-powered – and processes of your target companies.

An effective B2B sales team needs continuous training, thorough product knowledge, and experience in product presentations and fielding questions from executive-level prospects.

B2B And B2C Sales Strategies Differences #3: Number Of Decision-Makers

In a typical B2C buying scenario, the decision maker is usually one. In our cornflake example, it is the mom, her tastes, budget and preferences that your sales team will need to consider. There might be a chance that the husband or kids might play a role – but that’s not always.

In a B2B scenario, the decision-making process is a lengthy one that involves several stakeholders. According to CEB (now Gartner) executive advisor and author Brent Adamson, the average number of B2B stakeholders is 6.8, as of 2016. This number has likely increased today.

There are several factors to explain this, such as globalization, the decentralization of decision making and solutions packages (instead of singular products). Whatever the case, your B2B sales team should employ a strategy that factors in several key decision-makers.

B2B And B2C Sales Strategies Differences #4: Expected Response

The response to sales strategies is on opposite ends when it comes to B2B and B2C efforts.

You strive for an emotional response from your B2C clients. There might be some facts in your proposal. Yet, the end goal of your marketing outreach is to gain customer loyalty. You want them to love and prefer your product, even if there are better options in the market.

With B2B clients it’s a different situation. Corporate purchases – such as cornflakes making machines in our example – are usually on the top end of the price scale. These are investments that need thorough consideration, especially when it comes to the expected costs, returns, advantages, and disadvantages of a specific option. Rarely emotions play a role in this.

B2B buyers are more likely to approach their purchasing decision with rationality.

B2B And B2C Sales Strategies Differences #5: Decision-Making Process

In the B2C scenario, the decision-making process is quick – almost impulsive. People buy out of habit or they buy in-the-moment. The decision is influenced by advertising, word-of-mouth or habits and cravings. Product awareness and presence will certainly help your product in the selling process.

In a B2B situation, however, the wooing period is longer. There are several people making the decision, and you need to convince each one of them. You will go through a lot of phone calls, meetings and demos if you’re keen on closing the deal. And, this can take months.

B2B And B2C Sales Strategies Differences #6: Length of the Business Relationship

B2C business relationships normally are considered as one-off transactions. The focus is right there at the point of purchase. Preferences and loyalties can change and do change in such environment. The cornflake-buying mom today may decide next week on another brand; or, she may choose to switch to eggs and toasts for breakfast.

With B2B prospects it’s different. The whole purchasing process is an investment for both sides. Your sales team puts in months of their time and effort attending to the requirements of the prospect. You nurture your lead and provide necessary information and content. Follow-ups, meetings, and presentations to all stakeholders are a reality that happens over a long period of time. Your buyers put in their time and effort too to find the best-fit solution for their needs.

The expectation of this mutual investment is that it’s a long-term relationship. It is never a one-off transaction because there’s going to be a consistent need for maintenance, support, and upgrades. The stakeholder’s purchasing decision will take a long time because it’s a crucial one for their business. Choosing a business partner is not an impulsive decision.

 

What’s your experience with B2B and B2C sales strategies? Do you experience differences in the sales process? If so, which ones? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

Product Knowledge In B2B Sales: All What You Need To Know

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Product Knowledge In B2B Sales - MyStartupLand

The B2B sales process is long and sophisticated. Before a client makes a purchase, they have to be assured that they will be getting the benefits promised. They need to feel secure about the salespeople they dealt with, the brand they’re entering business with, and the product they’re purchasing.

Salespeople need to be able to communicate pricing, quality, after-sales services, payment, onboarding processes, and delivery in the clearest way possible. Yet, the purchase will not only rely on the salesperson’s ability to clearly communicating these things. The rep must get the prospect’s trust and confidence; that what they’re saying is true and can be relied upon.

Product knowledge In B2B Sales

Inside sales teams often deal with high-ticket b2b deals. In order to deliver results, they need to know your product inside and out. This way, they can sell with confidence and be able to get the prospect’s trust through their competence.

Inside sales reps with insubstantial product knowledge will hurt your sales organization. When a rep reaches out to prospects with a limited understanding of your solution, all conversations are hinged on luck. There might be a chance that the prospect already knows about your product and decide to buy anyway, but are you willing to risk it?

Product knowledge in B2B Sales is essential for any sales organization. To foster positive customer experience and create trust between reps and prospects, showing strong expertise in your solutions is crucial.

Understanding The Basics

To create an army of competent sales reps, you need to instill product knowledge right from the beginning. Salespeople should be able to answer basic inquiries regarding your product and place it in the right context of different challenges.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • How will the product benefit customers in your industry?
  • What are the products basic characteristics? (Software type, platform, function)
  • How is it delivered?
  • What are the conditions of use?
  • How much does it cost?

Apart from these basic points, it’s essential for salespeople to understand why your company is the best choice to get this solution from. Having enough information to state your brand value proposition against the competition is an absolute necessity.

Salespeople need to have the ability and resources to relay these details as quickly and efficiently as possible, be it through writing or conversation. Sales collateral needs to be readily available for reps to review and send to prospects as needed. That said, they shouldn’t rely on these documents wholly. B2B prospects are easily turned off by a rep who has to refer to a document in order to answer a simple question. Salespeople need to be able to answer basic questions in a simple and customer-centric way without pulling up files.

Something to look out for is sales reps talking to prospects in technical jargon. It may be common internally to talk about features and benefits in technical terms. From the prospect’s perspective, however, the benefit in real and practical terms is what really matters.

Personalizing Customer Interactions

After a deal has been closed, what the customer often remembers is their experience with the sales rep. The way a rep behaved and talked during sales conversations plays a major role in their decision to purchase. Customers prefer that they’re not treated just like a lead. This is where the customer service component of sales comes into play. You need to be interested equally in helping them solve their challenges as you are in getting the deal closed.

To bring good customer service into every sales conversation, reps need to have deep product knowledge. It is only through this knowledge that reps will be able to cater to customers with different challenges.

Highlighting Benefits Over Features

Knowing your solution’s list of features helps your prospect make an informed decision. However, features only translate into zero value for your prospect.

Having a deep product knowledge in B2B sales allows reps to tell prospects how your solution will make a difference in their operations; whether it’s going to make their operations more efficient, their employees more productive, or their pipeline fuller and more active.

Product Knowledge Training

Here are some ideas on how to train your sales reps on product knowledge in B2B sales.

Explain The Importance Of Product Training

Begin each product training session with a story or a quote that emphasizes the importance of knowing your product thoroughly.Lookup influencers in the business space. Read their articles and features. Find a quote or a short anecdote that demonstrates the importance of product knowledge. Make sure that you’re able to tie back the quote with your reps’ experiences on the sales floor for better recall.

Use Games To Make Product Learning Fun

Gamifying training is a great way to get your reps involved and have fun in the process. Incorporating game mechanics into product training has been a proven approach–use quizzes, contests, even incentivized games to get better engagement in your training programs. Creating this fun atmosphere around learning about your products will reinforce product knowledge while not adding to the stress of their everyday jobs.

Employ Memory Exercises

Pop quizzes and other memory exercises should be incorporated into your sales reps daily operations. These activities help them be always on alert when it comes to keeping up with product updates and basic product knowledge. Sales managers could assign a rep each week to enforce these exercises during work hours in a way that doesn’t disrupt operations.

Product Training Software

Using product training software should facilitate learnings across the sales floor. Through guided self-learning, your sales organization can save on training costs and maximize rep efficiency. Most product training software also comes with analytics functionality that allows leaders to customize training modules according to the rep’s performance.

Capture Customer Feedback

Getting the feedback from your customers is crucial in getting first-hand insight into how your reps are performing during calls. Knowing what your customers really think allows employees to understand what works from the perspective of their prospects. Use surveys, feedback emails, or even follow up calls to directly ask your customers about how reps handle calls. Knowing these details will help sales leaders design programs to improve product knowledge, customer service, and call handling in general.

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Reps who are knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the product they’re selling are those who are most effective in delivering real value to prospects. In nowadays competitive business landscape, it’s important to equip your teams with the necessary information to win clients. Make sure to invest in development training for your sales reps. As Maurice Clapton said, “Knowledge pays off more than any other investment.

 

Do you have any other ideas on why product knowledge in B2B sales is crucial for success? Would you add any other point to those above-mentioned? Share your thoughts in the below comments section.

5 Ways Marketing Can Help B2B Sales

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5 ways marketing can help b2b sales - MyStartupLand

Increasing B2B sales isn’t simply a matter of putting out your shingle and hoping that more customers will come your way. Businesses who purchase from you want to believe they have the right vendor in front. Because B2B sales is more complex, there are more people involved and there are higher price points. It can sometimes take months to close a B2B sale. Understanding how marketing can help B2B sales is fundamental to every business looking to gain more traction within its audience.

How can you “tilt the playing field” and make sure that when the customer is ready to buy, YOUR company is the only one that comes to mind?

1. Collect Honest Feedback

Feedback, whether received through surveys, in-person interactions, or email, is vital for both technical improvements to your site or funnels and your customer-facing work. Yet, in-depth and actionable feedback from clients is difficult to receive. It’s important to automate the process and encourage clients to provide as much as possible.

Talk with your clients. Find out what they liked and what they didn’t like. Talk about the number of steps that they took to get to the sale and the process that they went through. Ask them what about your company caught their attention. There are several touch-points where you can implement automated feedback collection.

Your customer’s needs are constantly evolving. By listening to what they are saying and being ready to implement the changes needed you can stay ahead of the competition, making more sales for your company.

2. Try Video

Among several reasons why you should have video on your website, the biggest one is that it’s one of the most effective means of selling your company’s product.  Customers and clients engage with video, often watching and engaging with the shorter ones for the entirety of the clip.

Still not convinced? Here are some stats about video marketing.

  • 43% of customers want to see more videos
  • 9% of marketers name video as the type of content with the highest ROI
  • 4x as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it
  • Shoppers who view video are 1.81x more likely to purchase than non-video viewers
  • 4 in 5 customers believe that demo videos are helpful

Depending on your products, your videos can have many purposes.

  • How-to videos explaining a single part of one of your products.
  • Explainer videos outlining what your company does.
  • Funny videos designed to get others to think about your product.
  • Video testimonials creating trust to persuade new clients.

3. Upselling and cross-selling

Upselling and cross-selling have increased sales of B2B and B2C companies for ages. Upselling simply offers a higher version of the product itself. Cross-selling offers related products to your clients.

Upselling

Amazon is one of the best companies implementing this. For instance, If you place an order for a laptop, you will inevitably be asked whether you want to upgrade the memory card or get a better one. While it might seem like  a logical thing to do but shown to billions of people every day can really boost your sales. The intent behind this is showing the customers that he could get a better product by spending a little extra.

Cross-Selling

The McDonald’s sales force are also pros at this tactic.  Cross-selling offers your client something different but related to the initial product. You’ll most likely be asked “would you like fries with that?” or even, “will that complete your order?” every single time. In this way McDonald’s customers will take a look at the menu for another few moments, thinking about their next tasty treat.

Cross-selling and upselling tactics can be applied to nearly any business who wants to improve its bottom line and increase sales. By offering multiple versions of the same or related services, you can create a selling juggernaut with your “warm” clients.

4. Events

Local events can boost your bottom line like nothing else. Putting a face to the name of the client and vice versa will also create mutual trust. Savvy businesses regularly hold events to keep their brand at the top of their customers mind. Certain has gathered over 75 statistics for a larger view of the event marketing picture. Here are a few:

  • 84% of consumers repurchase the product promoted at the event, after their first purchase (EventTrack Study)
  • 51% of marketers surveyed believe that events strengthen existing customer relationships (Marketing Charts)
  • 60% of marketers use tradeshows and events for face-to-face customer meetings (Marketing Charts)
  • 58% of marketers believe that events and conferences are important ways to improve customer experiences (E-Strategy Trends)
  • 31% of event marketers believe that trade shows, conferences, conventions, and channel events are essential to doing business in their target markets (Marketing Charts)
  • 69% of B2B marketers consider in-person events effective (Sensible Marketing)
  • The top 5 B2B content marketing tactics: Social Media Content (92%); eNewletters (83%); Articles on your Web Site (81%); Blogs (80%); In-Person Events (77%). (IMN Inc.)

The event that you hold doesn’t have to be formal. You can go on Meetup.com and create an for your clients to attend. By offering your clients something different to get them in the door, you are getting your brand to stand out and receive more sales. 

5. Case studies

Whether Your business constantly generates data and whether you have hired a marketing agency or you are the one doing all the SEO, leveraging that data into the creation of case studies is crucial. Case studies generates are “social proofs” to get more clients interested in your product or service because it’s measurable proof of what your company does.

73% of buyers used case studies in B2B purchasing decisions (2016 DemandGen Report).  The great thing about Case Studies is that you simply need to collect material rather than creating something from scratch. Look at your customer successes. Is there something you can use for successful case studies?

 

These are 5 simple ways marketing can help B2B sales. These are by no means the only way to capture customers attention. Each of them has their pros and cons, but all of them have the chance to increase your bottom line.

What can you do to increase your company’s bottom line? Do you have any other tips ready to implement for small-business owners? Have you tried any of the above-mentioned and seen some results? Let us know what you think in the section below.

Lead Generation: What’s Trending in 2017?

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Lead Generation Trends 2017 - MyStartupLand
Lead generation is the art of attracting potential customers to your business and converting them into buyers. This activity has seen a rapid development in the last decades. Although it is still common to generate leads through conventional channels like personal referrals or telemarketing, the internet has established itself as the preferred lead generation channel. Even the modern field of online marketing is changing at unmeasurable velocities. Lead generation techniques are a clear sign of this shift. Many start to prefer an inbound marketing to an outbound strategy.
 
It is estimated that only 17% of marketers last year considered outbound marketing practices to provide the highest quality leads Traditional techniques such as social media to generate awareness and email marketing to nurture captured leads are still commonly used in the sales funnel. Yet, the actual lead generation process of converting visitors into prospects makes inbound the king. Traffic plays a key role in this process. HubSpot estimates that at least 80% of the companies not meeting their revenue goals have less than 10 000 visitors. Nonetheless, no inbound strategy is complete without proper lead generation techniques.

Lead Gen Priority - MyStartupLand

There are hundreds of diverse lead generation strategies being implemented, some more successful than others. Among all the noise in the market, there are some clear trends that apply for this year and keeping up-to-date with the latest technologies and tactics will ensure that your company doesn’t miss valuable conversions out of your inbound visitors. Here are the five most promising trends in online lead generation for 2017.
 

1. No single channel, no unique device

Diversity is the name of the game in 2017. The time where lead generation channels were limited to a few alternatives, like the telephone or email, are long gone. Today you not only have many channels which you can choose from, even within a channel you have hundreds of options. Think of social media: LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and the list goes on. Great opportunities exist within this huge diversity. The key lies in leveraging the most important ones for your desired target group and combining them with adequate strategies. Nonetheless, one thing is certain: just a few channels, let alone a single one, will not suffice for a successful strategy.
 
The same applies to devices: limit your online business to a single device and you are almost certainly doomed to fail. With the increased usage of mobile devices, an online marketing campaign can no longer be focused on desktop computers and laptops alone. Last year there were 2.6 billion smartphone users globally and it is estimated that this number will grow to 6.1 billion by 2020. In the USA, at least two-thirds of the population use a smartphone to access the internet. Thus, mobile friendliness is vital for every single online business nowadays. From display to functionality, SEO to traffic measurement, online businesses need to provide not only a UX that is adapted to mobile needs, but they also need to focus on the adequate lead generation tactics and technologies.
2. Quality-driven content marketing = quality lead generation 
In the inbound community, it is popularly stated that content is king. Studies show that per dollar spent, content marketing generates at least 3 times more leads than conventional marketing techniques. It is a great strategy to attract traffic through SEO techniques and also guide a customer along the Buyer’s Journey with proper educational information. However, there is a popular belief that although this technique does help increase audience numbers, it does not ensure high-quality lead generation. This is something that is bound to change and has already been changing for a while.
 
The immense amount of content offer available on the web is increasing with every single day. This has resulted in a large content offer which usually consists of a huge part of mediocre content published towards SEO goals and a small part of valuable content. The second one is extremely important from an inbound marketing perspective and will see an increase in the next years. Companies will start focusing on acquiring content professionals. The aim will be towards content quality instead of quantity and frequency. Moreover, content will be tailored towards specific audiences and customers along specific phases of the Buyer’s Journey, instead of looking to attract a more general public based on virality.
3. Customized lead generation tools 
Just as with high-quality content, lead generation tools are starting to be customized to fit the lead’s requirements, provide a more engaging user experience and thus generate more contacts for your business. A study by Econsultancy and Adobe showed that B2B marketers considered customer experience and personalization to be the most promising marketing trends in the next years along big data. One-fourth of them even mentioned customer experience as the single most important opportunity. Engaging content will ensure that the inbound traffic can more be converted towards potential customers. Moreover, personalized experiences from the earliest interaction phases between your leads and your business will give potential buyers a further reason to hang around.
 
Boring contact forms on a separate page are starting to appear less attractive than customized, gated content in online presentations or videos. Other great examples are quizzes and calculators, which have a much more appealing effect than a regular contact form or newsletter subscription and thus provide a more interesting variant to convert visitors into leads. Even integrated microsites that allow you to track specific user engagement are gaining large popularity.
 
Which tools you use depend on the public you address. Combining different strategies with diverse tools can help find the adequate approach. And if you’re dubious about the success of adapting your lead forms towards your customer experience, remember that Expedia generated an extra $12 million a year just by removing one field from their regular contact form. Image if they introduced interactive lead generation tools…
4. Data-driven lead generation 
In the age of information, data is essential. 42% of marketers consider that lack of quality data is their largest obstacle towards quality lead generation. Detailed information on prospects’ behavior provides valuable insights on his journey along the sales funnels. This helps sales reps take more accurate decisions based on specific data analysis. From tools like Google Analytics, to lead scoring systems, tracking the behavior of leads and registering it in large databases that can be analyzed will be essential. This trend in data analysis is reflected in three main aspects:
 
  • Big data professionals: The increased need for professionals in analyzing large amounts of data on lead and customer behavior.

 

  • Data Analytics Tools: From Google Analytics to CRM solutions such as HubSpot or Salesforce, there is a clear increase in the usage of tools that provide a statistical analysis of customer and lead behavior.

 

  • Machine Learning: Although still in its infancy, machine learning is bound to be large in the following years, with lead scoring systems and other smart data being managed by artificial intelligence.

 

5. Automated prospecting 
The term marketing automation is by far more popular in the business environment nowadays than Napoleon Bonaparte was at the beginning of the 19th century in France. It is a trend that is changing the way marketing and sales are done online. Over 70% of businesses are currently using or implementing a marketing automation solution. The overall investments of companies in marketing technologies have surpassed that of advertising. A company’s CMO on average invests more in automation technologies than a CIO in IT.
 
There is no question that marketing automation is big. However, CRM tools and automated lead nurturing have been around for a while, so what is the actual innovative trend here? Two words: automated prospecting. Automated lead generation has been introduced by diverse tools. These not only generate lead data and capture contact details from inbound traffic, they also automate or semi-automate activities such as lead scoring and even follow-ups. This gives marketers and sales reps more time to concentrate on other key activities along the sales funnels, such as closing main deals. Prospecting is usually one of the most resource-intensive activities of a company. Thus the possibility of automating most of these steps is bound to have a brilliant future for both, sales and marketing.
 
AS the VP of marketing from Google Cloud Alison Wagonfeld brilliantly pointed out:
“Marketing still needs art to go with the science.”
No matter how effective the new marketing and sales technologies are and how significantly they are improving the way business is done, we should never lose track of the human side of the business. A healthy balance between both will ensure great success for your business in the years to come.
What’s your experience on Lead Generation? Which one among these trends do you believe will have a major role in 2018?

Online Marketing Methods To Revitalise Dead Traffic

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How To Revitalise Dead Traffic - MyStartupLand

Understanding how your website performs and users interact with it, is vital for any company success relying on a digital presence. Digital marketers, as well as startup founders in the early days, ask themselves questions that are crucial to their website success.

  1. Where do we find additional traffic sources?
  2. How can we minimise bounce-rate?
  3. What happens after a customer purchases something on our website?

Overnight Jackpot or Long-Term Strategy?

Most of us might think that the answer is to simply spend more on marketing in the hope to hit the jackpot overnight. Although that might be a strategy, it is not available to everyone.

Creating a sustainable inflow of users who actually spend time on our website is a long-term commitment. Understanding how to revitalise dead traffic through online marketing methods is a must for every professional dealing with an online presence.

There are several key points that every startup founders and marketers need to take into consideration if they want to achieve success.

Understand Your Audience Lifecycle

Every business should have a clear understanding of how their users’ lifecycle looks like. To what are they sensitive? How can you take advantage of this information to create more interest and deliver better results? What do you need to do to make sure they just don’t get lost on your web pages?

Ensuring that the user journey is as clear as possible as well as asking constantly for feedback can be key to enhance your audience understanding and gain more from them.

Track Your Results

Nowadays, tracking performances of any activity is a must for every professional involved in digital marketing. You cannot simply make a decision based on your feelings. Every decision should be data-driven and that is the only way to advance in the right direction rather than spraying and praying.

Automation Anyone? 

Have you ever thought that you can automate most of the activities you are manually doing on daily basis? Implementing automation tools can improve first of all internal morale as boring tasks are automated, but also this will yield better results as you will be able to continuously improve on these tasks (as you will have more free time) as well as, once again, tracking their performance.

 

The below infographics shows in details the great journey of ColourGraphics and how they managed to put together an online strategy which delivered an astonishing additional £119k to their business. It takes time and effort, but it’s possible. Their story should be an inspiration to every other startup out there struggling to create a winning online presence.

 

How To Revitalise Dead Traffic - MyStartupLand

6 Financial Steps Startups Need To Take In Consideration Now

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Financial Steps Startups - MyStartupLand

Financial decisions matter the most when a company is in its infancy. Every little thing that the new company does – advertising, production, even rent – will take their toll on a limited budget. Since most startups don’t have much money to spare, it can be difficult to find the right balance between all the projects that need funding. Understanding what are the financial steps startups need to take in consideration is key for success. 

So how do you organize your funds and prioritize what to spend your resources on? How do you simplify the process and eliminate the inevitable headache?

There’s actually a few financial steps startups should consider to do just that.

Use Separate Bank Accounts

One of the most important steps you can take is to separate your business and personal banking accounts. It can be tempting to keep the cash flow in your personal account; who doesn’t like money, after all? But by doing so, you’re making it much harder to distinguish between your personal and business assets.

It also acts as a security measure by ensuring that a simple mistake with a portion of your finances does not affect your personal and business life. Managers can eliminate the temptation to appropriate business funds for personal use by paying themselves a salary instead of merging their finances with that of the business.

Just think how much your decision making could be influenced by trying to hold onto that money, too.

It is also particularly important for entrepreneurs who think that they might sell their business in the future. The buyer will want a thorough understanding of the business’ finance history. This can be difficult if these are mingled with the owner’s finances. The simplified taxes can also be beneficial here since they make the sales process much easier.

Measure Cash Flow

Good records are at the core of every successful business. It is vital to keep track of the source and size of every piece of revenue. This allows founders to understand where the business is doing well and where it is suffering. It might seem overly meticulous to track certain expenses, but those need to be documented so that they can be cut as low as possible.

You can track these numbers by hand but it can be done more efficiently. Instead, it’s best to use accounting software that can track most of the information automatically; these programs usually provide an analysis that’s easier to garner information from as well. That ensures that no one forgets about any valuable information.

Get an Accountant

Taxes are extremely complicated. These play a critical role in the financial steps startups need to consider. Most businesses can claim a variety of deductions and use other techniques to reduce their tax burden. Very few people, however, have the working knowledge required to make that happen. Therefore, a proper accountant can save you a lot of money.

Accountants aren’t exactly cheap, but they can prevent many costly mistakes during tax season. The savings almost always exceed the cost as well. Since they tend to get flooded with requests near tax season, it’s best to cultivate a long-term relationship with a talented accountant to make sure that their services are available when necessary.

Invest in Customers

No business can make money without customers. That’s usually the biggest issue facing startups: How do we attract customers and make them aware of our brand? That means it’s crucial to invest heavily in discovering leads and attracting customers to the business. You’ll also want to invest in research to identify the business’ core demographics.

This is another one of the reasons that it is so vital to track income and expenses. That information will help to determine how much money the business can invest in these efforts. It should be a healthy portion of your budget, but you’ll have to measure that against the rest of your expenses.

Plan for Benefits

Employee benefits are a rarer commodity than they used to be. Now, employees are specifically looking for job opportunities that offer benefits as well as a competitive salary. They also appreciate benefit packages, such as support for a 401k plan.

Investing in benefit packages is expensive, but they make it much easier to attract good employees. The best workers can usually have their pick between several employers and they will pick the one that offers the best deal.

Even if your new business cannot offer expensive benefits, there are alternatives. Flexible hours, easy telecommuting and similar offers can be very effective. Not only can they lead to a more pleasant work environment and attract employees, but they are also fairly cheap for businesses to offer. One of the biggest benefits you can offer is by being an employer who they can connect with and feel empowered by – and that’s not nearly as common a job perk as you think it’d be.

Acquire a Business Credit Card

Most businesses need credit at some point. When people are working and buying in bulk, the ability to lean on credit is extremely convenient. Traditional loans are the most common choice, but they aren’t always appropriate for daily expenses or short-term credit. Instead, it’s wise to invest in a business credit card.

The card acts as a buffer against financial problems by ensuring that the business can make purchases without waiting for its usual income streams to provide the funds. That ensures that there are no unnecessary delays. It also makes it possible to consolidate most bills into a single place, which makes the administration process easier to handle. You will need to pay the bill in full each month to avoid interest fees, but a business that does so can use a credit card to great effect.

There are plenty of ways to help your startup’s financial situation, but they all begin by learning more about what your company’s needs will be. If you can effectively diagnose your expenses and income sources – and effectively record them – then you’ll be primed to watch your business flourish.

 

Do you find these 6 financial steps startups need to follow useful? Have you got any other important step you take on a daily basis to make sure your startup is successful? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

D&O Insurance for Startup Founders: What You Need to Know

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D&O Insurance - MyStartupLand

Does my startup need D&O insurance?

If you aren’t asking that question, you probably should be. D&O insurance—with the “D&O” standing for “Directors and Officers”—is a form of liability insurance that many businesses carry. You are unlikely to find a large enterprise or corporation that doesn’t have D&O insurance coverage in place. As an entrepreneur, though, having D&O coverage might seem like a luxury you can’t afford yet—especially since you might not even have any directors or officers to speak of yet!

However, D&O insurance is often essential to the growth and longevity of a startup. While you may not have high-powered executives or a big board of directors and stakeholders yet, your goals as a business likely involve reaching such a lofty place. In other words, the answer to the question above (“Does my startup need D&O insurance?) is almost always yes. Perhaps the more important question is why.

What Is D&O Insurance?

To understand why your startup probably needs D&O insurance, we first need to appreciate what exactly D&O insurance covers. Essentially, D&O insurance is coverage for lawsuits and claims made against a company’s directors and officers. Executives, board members, and other high-ranking business officials have a lot of power within a company, but they also face a lot of scrutiny. If a director or officer makes a decision that leads to claims of mismanagement, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, noncompliance with laws or regulations, or other similar accusations, those individuals are the ones in the crosshairs—not the company itself.

D&O insurance kicks in when these claims occur, covering legal costs, fines, and other expenses related to a claim. In essence, it shields your directors and officers from legal or financial liability, thereby preventing a situation where an executive or board member would be expected to handle costs related to a claim personally. It creates an environment where directors and officers can lead a company and make tough decisions without worrying about gambling their personal finances and assets with every choice.

The Importance of D&O Insurance for Startups

As a startup founder, your first impulse might be to adopt something along the lines of the “It couldn’t happen to me” mindset. Certainly, bigger corporations with more money in their coffers and more headline-worthy business decisions will be bigger targets for lawsuits and overall scrutiny. The more visible a company is, the more it has to watch its back. However, big corporations with their big coffers also have an advantage that your startup doesn’t: they have the cash and resources to handle lawsuits and legal claims. In other words, between paying for D&O insurance and paying to fight or settle a lawsuit, the former option is always going to be the more affordable path.

If you and your fellow co-founders are serving as the directors and officers of your startup, then having D&O insurance can give you the peace of mind to operate your business fearlessly and agilely. The stereotypical perception of a startup is a fast-paced environment where decisions are made quickly. Quick, decisive leadership is often vital in the startup space, as it allows new companies to pursue key opportunities as they come, adapt to overcome new challenges, and stay ahead of the curve. However, it also sometimes means that startup leaders aren’t considering the potential risks of every decision they make. This factor often leads to more mistakes, which can bring about the kind of legal speed bumps that D&O insurance is there to cover.

The other big reason to have D&O insurance is that, if you want to grow your business, you essentially have no choice. Are you looking for investors or venture capitalists to back your brand? If these people buy into your company, they will want to own stake and be involved on the board. To protect themselves, investors will stipulate that you must have D&O insurance before they give you a dime or sign on the dotted line. Similarly, if you are looking to hire a new CEO to steer your company toward success, that person is going to have the experience and foresight to demand the protection that D&O insurance provides.

Conclusion

In the simplest of terms, running a business is about making one difficult decision after another. Being able to make those big decisions quickly and decisively is why CEOs and business owners get paid the big bucks. However, being in that hot seat is also risky. There is always the chance that the decision you make will be the wrong one, and even small mistakes in business can snowball into significant legal issues. Perhaps you are courting investors or trying to attract a big-name industry executive to your team, or maybe you are just trying to grow into the CEO role in your own right. Either way, the leaders of your startup need to be protected, and D&O insurance is the only thing that can provide the protection you need.

What Marketing Channel Is The Most Effective For Startups

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Launching a startup is just one small step towards success. However, having a great product alone won’t help bring in clients. Marketing a bad product, on the other hand, is not going to turn into a success. Marketing can play a major role in a startup growth. But what marketing channel is the most effective for startups?

Unless you have raised enough money to allocate a decent budget on marketing, you are most likely faced with the tough choice of choosing one channel over another, without really knowing what could work best. Making sure that every effort taken is measured and planned is key to success (or at least not to waste any money).

Understanding what’s behind SEO, Email Marketing, Video Marketing, Social or Content Marketing, among others can result in an impossible task for a small team to tackle. And why are we forgetting about Offline Marketing? Should you ignore it completely?

Startup marketing is a whole science that doesn’t have a clear and unified methodology. Starting by understanding what is what and then going back to your original plan and implementing the right marketing plan is, to say the least, difficult.

ColourGraphics has helped us understanding what is the best marketing channel for your startup according to each channel capability:

What type of marketing is most effective for startup - MyStartupLand

 

How To (Successfully) Manage Millennials

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How To (Successfully) Manage Millennials - MyStartupLand

Developing and implementing the right skill-set to lead a team with different personalities across several ups and downs is a complicated task. Today it is even more complicated because the people managing and to be managed have a completely different view of the working world than what it was ten years ago.

Yes, I am talking about Millennials. A group of people who don’t see employment as a 30 years commitment. Millennials are the people you manage, and the managers you trust to deliver on results you set for your company.

By 2025 they will be making more than 75% of the workforce. Not being able to understand what motivates millennials and how to manage expectations with them will have a tremendous impact on company performance and culture.

Let’s start with a basic fact. I am a millennial, but not really. I was born at the very edge of the group, 1981. For some things, I resonate with them, for others, I don’t.

Understanding Millennials – Where It All Started – My 1st Job (and 2nd and 3rd…)

I still remember how excited I was, when I got my first “real” job after university. Walking into the office, looking for my manager, my mentor, the one who will bring me up in my career to achieve success. I was so happy, eager to say the least.

I walked through the office, relatively early on for a Monday morning in the startup life (9.30AM). Very few people were around. No one was waiting for me. No one greeted me. Weird, I thought.

After few minutes of walking around, I found one person working, who enquired about my presence (so much for security). She didn’t know there was a new guy starting that day. I sat at my desk-to-be and waited.

My manager didn’t show up on my 1st day of work and no one knew why.

Dang! Did she forget about me?

I sat through my first 8 hours in the role I wanted to be successful in, thinking “Why the hell is she not here?”

The 2nd day had to be better, I thought. I was reassured that my manager would be there. I arrived at the office, sat at my desk and nothing happened.

I didn’t know who could be my boss. “Should I walk around introducing myself hoping to pick the right person?“, I thought. Then, of course, I pretended to be busy, while being angry and disappointed. Fun fact, she was sitting 2 desks away but decided to introduce herself only a few hours later.

My boss never became my mentor and never managed me in the way I expected. After 3 months in the job, I was already interviewing elsewhere.

I moved on, had other managers, saw different companies, saw more managers and talked with friends. Turned out that finding a mentor, or a manager who understands you is as easy as finding a pot of gold at the bottom of a rainbow.

Then one day, I had the chance to lead a team:

“Manage and lead in the opposite way you have been managed and led”

This has been my motto ever since. I have made a lot of mistakes but also learned what motivates Millennials and how to create ONE TEAM.

Millennials look at their first years of work experience as a learning playground. Learning is the main keyword in their growth, but that’s not all. Millennials are eager to move on with things, explore and learn even more. Two years in the same role is equal to ten years experience in the “old world”.

Millennials Don’t Forgive. No Mistakes Allowed.

Millennials don’t see any job as their end-job. They know that there’s more than that and they dream to move forward.

The moment, you as a manager, act in the wrong way, you have destroyed their trust. Standing by your team, always, is as needed as being fair to all team members. Fight for them and they will remember. Sell them cheaply and your team will run away. Pretty basic, I know, but so many managers still fail at this.

Millennials thrive in challenging environments but they need to feel safe. They need to know that it’s OK to make mistakes. Mistakes are at the basis of success.

I have managed very junior people with no working experience whatsoever and only by creating a sense of security and reward, they have been able to reach unthinkable results. Creating a risk-free environment will let your team feel closer to you and be bolder in taking decisions, asking more questions and achieving great results.

Allow your team to mistake over and over (in a controlled environment) and you will achieve success. Don’t step in, don’t blame. Let them understand and learn.

Put Yourself In Their Shoes.

Company politics are a reality we cannot escape. We get to understand that as we move up the ladder. However, very few Millennials care about company politics.

Millennials want to hear facts as they are and understand why things are happening. They don’t need the whole story, but rather understand the flow, the “big picture”. If you don’t show the way, you will lose them. Keep them in the loop of things and don’t hide facts from them.

If they don’t understand the “why”, they will think you are not capable of leading them. Millennials care more of the “why” rather than the “what”.

What would you need to hear if you would be in their shoes?

Listen And Listen Again.

Don’t overlook the one-on-one time. Don’t talk only about work. Discover what’s going on in their life. Open communication, trust, and mutual respect are the pillars of a great team. Your job as a manager, a leader, is to talk with your team. Never skip those moments, keep the communication going.

Sometimes it takes longer for one person to open. Other times, you might need more time to understand what communication style to use. Regardless of the situation, listen what they have to say. Understand the underlying message in their words.

When you listen, you will also understand how they see work and what motivates them. Create mutual trust by sharing also your experience and thoughts. Don’t hide things and don’t lie. Remember, Millennials don’t forgive wrong-doing.

Open Doors And Let Them Fly Away.

Millennials need flexibility. You cannot expect them to do one task for one year with no evolution. If the job doesn’t have cross-functional opportunities, be flexible with their role and offer side projects that could interest them.

I work in sales and as a junior sales rep, for example, there’s not much variety in daily tasks. Creating opportunities to travel and meet clients is a replacement for other activities. Giving responsibilities to train other junior reps is an interesting task that will help them develop new skills and keep learning.

Provide feedback on their activities, let them understand that you are there if needed, but they are in charge. And when they succeed, recognize it, not only with them but with the whole team and the company. Recognition is key for Millennials to feel even more confident.

Open doors for opportunities within the company and when the time comes, let them fly away. The greatest pleasure comes when you will see one of your team members take the lead and achieve success at another company

 

We, as managers, are the ones that develop the workforce of tomorrow. We are responsible for the type of employees we create. We achieve success only when our team does.

Do you have any other tips on how to manage Millennials successfully? Are you a Millennial and resonate with the above tips? Share your experience with us.

4 Habits To Excel At Leading Multicultural Teams

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4 habits to excel at leading Multicultural Teams - MyStartupLand
One of the most valuable opportunities a global company provides its employees is working within an international environment. Understanding how different cultures think, interact and learn more from each other has always been an intriguing experience for me. Even though you might have a globally spread team, you still want them to be a TEAM OF ONE. This will benefit your business and team goals. 
 
I have worked with or led people from more than 20 countries. During the last few years of my career, as a Business Development professional, I have set up new businesses and negotiated deals with international clients. All this gave me great exposure to different cultures. As a manager, I also indirectly managed team members in the Asia Pacific and European region. Thanks to this, I learned that managers operating in an international environment should follow these 4 habits to excel at leading multicultural teams while building trust and harmony for its members.

Make Extra Effort

Make an extra effort to let your employees feel more comfortable with you. This doesn’t mean, however, you need to change your leadership style completely. Such change might appear biased to others. A simple gesture of flying to a satellite office and spending more face time will pay great dividends. If you are in the same office, it’s much easier to build rapport than when your employees are in a different location.
 
Respecting your employee’s schedule helps to communicate trust. If you need a deliverable from an employee from a different location, what would you do? Let them know what you need and that it’s okay for them to do this the next day. Agree on a specific hour/date so it matches your needs. I learnt this from my boss when we were working in different time zones. He would always make it very clear when he needed me to finish a particular task.
 
It made me feel more trusted and happy that he cares about my work – life balance.

 

Communication 1 – Assumption 0
 
Different cultures have different expectations. Sharing feedback, asking questions, challenging decisions and hierarchy are all “difficult” topics. What might seem as a lack of enthusiasm for your culture (or a too aggressive way to express a certain point of view), could be an employee’s way of showing respect to you (or simply sharing feedback).
 
Asian cultures mostly find it disrespectful questioning a leader’s decisions. For example, how strongly you disagree is a common cultural difference. In Israeli, German or Italian cultures disagreements can be voiced forcefully. Most people will feel that such strong debate is positive to the team and organization. Learn and improve these behavioral aspects of people from different cultures through effective feedback.
 
Taking things for granted impairs the communication. A leader brought up in the American culture would expect certain responses from his team members which wouldn’t be the end case in a multicultural team. Be prepared to explain things rather than assuming you have clearly communicated all your points.
 
Invest your time to learn the business culture of your team member’s country. Take things one-one and discuss how you can meet them halfway. It is important for the employee also to be proactive and follow your company’s culture. Make it clear during your meetings that you follow fixed delivery dates or meeting times. If necessary talk to them in private that this is what you expect out of a task or set a deadline earlier to review. Never assume and always communicate with your counterparts.

Use Neutral Language

Humor, sarcasm, and criticism are different based on a set of culturally determined beliefs. Business decisions, goals, and challenges are universal. This demands your team’s focus regardless of individual differences. Appropriate use of language to communicate business related variables is key to success.
 
That being said, it’s not practical for a leader to take different tones while speaking to team members. Especially if it’s a group forum. Tackle this challenge by using neutral language while speaking to a group. Stick to facts and lose your analogies. It helped me when I started using “We rather than “You while setting expectations with my team members.
 
Try to avoid making jokes about or criticizing other cultures or politics if you can. If you are eager to know, then ask your team members rather than making statements. Ask them directly if you would like to know more about their culture and show them that it intrigues you. Team members will realize that you don’t have preconceived notions. You are trusting them with information.

Build One Team

It is one team with a global presence. You share same goals, vision, and objectives. Make this clear to your employees by setting similar processes across the team for sharing feedback, status updates, and critical issues. Set Up a bi-weekly or monthly department call to create a forum. Use it so people can appreciate achievements, share experiences. Clarify member’s responsibilities and make it transparent to everyone in the team. It is very important to make sure that every team member understands what value others bring to the team. Mutual respect helps create a better team environment based on trust and appreciation.
 
As a Manager, it is your responsibility to provide face time between your team members. There are a lot of subtle elements that are understood better through face time. Do business meetings together with your team members and let them take the lead. Organize team events for your team to come together. Build that personal rapport with each other. Show proactivity in setting up team events. Offer democracy to your team members to choose and suggest various activities. Communication flow becomes so much more efficient by bringing everyone together. Even after the team members return to their offices after the event concludes.
 
The market for talent is a global one, even for small businesses or start-ups. Not only do international employees add value to your work but also provide a new perspective that can help your business adapt to new trends. The capability to lead multicultural teams is an essential skill for next generation leaders.
 
Have you had experiences leading international teams? Do you feel the above mentioned 4 habits to excel at leading multicultural teams are relevant? Do you work in a multicultural team or office and want to share your feedback on ways to improve current communication? What makes you feel valued as a member of an international team? 

How To Get The Best Marketing ROI On A Limited Budget

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No matter how big or small your business is, there are challenges when it comes to promoting and marketing your brand.

KissMetrics noted from a recent report into the Return on Investment (ROI) in digital marketing, that lack of budget was stifling innovation.

A smaller budget doesn’t mean that you cannot sell or promote your business well and reap the rewards with more customers. But it certainly makes it easier to have a larger marketing budget!

That said, if big budgets are not yielding big results, it does raise some interesting questions on effectiveness and reach, and whether it is money wasted.

Money AND Time

Success via any marketing strategy or tool is not just about how much money you can throw it – it is about time too.

In effect, you want an ROI on the money you spend targeting your customers and generate sales in the least amount of time.  So, when looking at the following tactic, consider how quickly they would reach your customer demographic and how quickly they would generate sales.

Knowing What And How To Measure ROI

Return of Investment (ROI) is what your business gets back in terms of income after expenditure on marketing activities.

It sounds simple enough but here’s the rub – businesses often don’t know what ROI measurement they are measuring, nor how to go about it.

Thus, when creating a campaign, what is it that you want it to achieve?

Other businesses with successful marketing campaigns have turned this question on its head. They have experimented with certain marketing tools and promotional activities for a length of time and monitored them closely – which ones worked, what was the ROI and why was this the case?

Colour Graphics… has managed to group for us the best advice on how to get marketing ROI with a limited budget. 

#1 Look For ‘FREE’ Opportunities

We always think of marketing and raising brand awareness in terms of how much money we can throw at it.

But this isn’t always the case. For example, there is a school of thought that customers are more likely to buy from a brand that they have connected with. This could be connecting via social media channels or being aware of the brand, the logo, the firm and what they do.

If your brand has a great reputation, people are more likely to remember it and turn to it when they need a product.

This takes times, especially to build a positive reputation and brand awareness that means customers turn to you automatically like people turn to Nike when they need trainers.

Upping thought leadership is a great way of creating and generating ideas to push the marketing and promoting of your business without spending cash.

Local newspaper and magazines, both in print and online versions, are always looking for news to fill their pages. If you have something remotely newsworthy, get it out there.

The ROI on this is long term and is about building your brand so that people recognize it. However, with a concerted effort, regular news articles coupled with adverts, the paying customers will come quicker than you think.

#2 Connect With Key Influencers

You will have no doubt come across the term ‘influencer’. Usually associated with social media, they can be found across all sectors and industries.

They are the people who are considered by many to be experts, the ‘movers and shakers’ in the industry. This can be because of their knowledge, or their status. It can also be a self-gained title by being prominent, leading the discussion and enticing debate.

As their influence gathers pace, they are the people to whom other players in the industry look and this makes them an ‘influencer’.

Get them on your side by reviewing a product, interviewing you for their blog or other communication channels, and you have the avid attention of customers and fan everywhere.

#3 Be Strategic

There is no doubt that any company, business or organization that have had a successful marketing campaign on their hands have planned and strategized, executed and reviewed the campaign with one eye on the fine detail.

They have tweaked the campaign when they could see it running in the wrong direction. They have been proactive and engaged. It has been an all-consuming campaign and one that they have driven.

And yet, too many businesses still think that throwing an advert out there every now and then, followed by a tweet or two and an update on Facebook is enough to bring a massive ROI on a marketing campaign.

Marketing needs to be strategized, with a cohesive plan that joins all the strands together.

Do you know what ROI metrics you are measuring and why? How successful are your marketing and promotional plan?

How To Create A Good First Impression From Your Marketing

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First Good Impression

To propel your business forward, you need to market and promote your business to your customers.

This means understanding who your customers are, where they are and what they want to know. Any marketing campaign should contain the critical elements that make it a success – it should be driven by a strategy, you should review and tweak the campaign as necessary, and it should yield the results you want, known as Return on Investment (ROI).

However, some marketing campaigns can flop. The reasons why are many and varied but, one reason is that it created the wrong impression.

Creating An Impression

An impression can be negative or positive and is formed within seconds of someone meeting someone else, seeing their business premises or when they first see your poster campaign, leaflet or tweet.

Those first few seconds count because coming back from a negative or bad impression takes a lot of time, effort, and energy. A poor response to a marketing campaign can cause severe problems for a business.

Which is why you need this guide on creating a great first impression with your marketing from Colour Graphics.

KEY ELEMENT 1 – Logo And Colours

You have spent money and time creating the background to your brand. The logo represents your business, you have chosen colors to support it, and the font also contributes to the tone and the impression you want people to have of your business.

You need to stick with these key tools for your marketing campaign. Customers become familiar with your logo and your branding. They come to trust it because it is the symbol of great quality products and services from you.

KEY ELEMENT 2 – Great Text With Call To Action

What is it that your marketing campaign is telling customers? What is it that you want customers to do when they see the poster or read a tweet?

Call to Actions or CTAs are commonly thought to just be ‘call now’, ‘call today’ or ‘book now’ kind of sentences when in fact, they can be so much more.

They can be subtle but powerful – take a look at these 31 examples of fantastic calls to action that entice people to take a closer look – and the text needs to be great too.

A clear message, delivered in a way that is understandable and clean, without being patronizing. It can be informative and educational, or market-speak. The point is, if the text is right for the campaign, it’ll be accepted by the viewing audience.

KEY ELEMENT 3 – No Errors Or Embarrassing Typos

Nothing like an embarrassing typo to get you noticde*, is there? (*see what we did there!).

They can be the smallest of errors – a misplaced capital letter, or a tiniest of typos but it all creates an impression that the copy was rushed out.

Whilst some of these high-profile grammar gaffes and atrocious apostrophe placements can be funny – they still make an impact after all – they are not creating the right impression of your business.

KEY ELEMENT 4 – The Right Tone

The ‘tone’ of voice you use will depend on your brand, but also what you are selling and to whom.

Younger audiences are receptive to a different tone than maybe the older generation. Funeral directors would market their businesses with a different tone of voice to that of a hairdresser, and so on.

Take care with the tone of the marketing voice because too formal can look too stern and unapproachable. Too ‘young and bouncy’ can look patronizing.

KEY ELEMENT 5 – Supporting Images and Graphics

Too much text is off-putting. Not enough blank or ‘white space’ clutters the page or the poster. And frankly, choosing an irrelevant photo or an inappropriate graphic also hurts how your marketing campaign is received.

Choose images wisely. Opt for ones that support the text or, if you have a professional design team on your side, the image can convey the main marketing message, with the text in a supporting role.

Looks And Feels Right

A marketing campaign that is strategized and planned gives off the right impression. Planning it is a process of thought and actions. Many heads are better than one and that not only refers to the planning stage but also to the ‘testing phase’.

Why not test some of your ideas on a sample of your customer demographic? What impression do they get? What feels and looks right to them?

5 Offline Marketing Mistakes Your Business Could Be Making

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Marketing is the lifeblood of your business. It is the fuel that gives rise to business growth. It is the vehicle that puts your brand in front of your customers.

Without it, your business will grind to a halt. And yet, essential promotional activities are sometimes left to fate and good luck, rather than being managed and planned.

The online world has opened new opportunities and pitfalls for businesses. The power and influence of the digital world are such that many businesses assume that offline marketing – the printed marketing tools – are no longer of any use.

But, as Colour Graphics know, ignoring offline marketing can mean cutting off vital communication channels with your customers. Here we highlight the 5 most common offline marketing mistakes startups do. 

#1 Assuming Offline Marketing is Dead

Really?! Why would you think that?

The digital revolution has brought about massive changes in more or less every facet of life. It is now possible to connect with your customers, engage them with your product and brand. Social Selling has never been more powerful.

And that meant businesses assumed that offline marketing, the adverts, the leaflets and so on, were dead in the water.

The amount companies spend on offline marketing may be smaller than it was many years ago but big brands are still harnessing the power of offline marketing. If you are not, you are missing the chance to reach customers.

#2 Not Connecting Offline Marketing with Your Online Marketing

There is also a school of thought that is ‘one or the other‘ – you either spend on online marketing channels or stick with your favored offline marketing tools.

Breaking news – you CAN do both!

In fact, offline marketing can be used to connect your customers and fans with your website or social media channels.

By including your business website on your business card, you are connecting online and offline personas. By using QR codes, you are connecting online with offline and vice versa.

#3 Not Investing in Professional Design and Print

Yes, we know, there are some fantastic online design software pieces of kit, photo editing suites, and all kinds. And they can make an amateur looking poster or postcard look a little more appealing.

But, graphic designers study their art and their trade for a long time for a reason – it may look effortless and flawless, but to get a poster campaign or any offline marketing tool to look fantastic takes skill, experience and a heavy dose of creativity.

Frankly, for any offline marketing campaign to be successful, it needs professional design and printing to produce the quality your brand deserves.

#4 Not being Consistent with Branding

You have a logo. You have a palette of colors. You have a tone. You may even have a font all of your own.

These branding tools possibly cost you a lot of money, a lot of time and a lot of effort. They are the foundations on which you will go on to build your brand.

So why is it, with offline and online marketing personas for your brand, you are not using them? Some businesses use them so sparingly that you can hardly see them. Other businesses don’t use them at all and if they do, they change the logo to something different!

Your designer will create different versions of your logo but use only small tweaks and changes so that the customer still recognizes it and associates it with your brand.

These logos, the colors, the strapline and the tone of your brand are all important tools in your marketing arsenal – use them!

#5 Not Having a Strategy

Great, you’ve printed 2,500 leaflets and have 5,000 business card sat on the shelf.

Now what?

Leaflets, pamphlets, brochures, business cards and postcards sat on shelves and gathering dust are not selling your business, nor connecting with customers.

We see it all the time: customers ordering fabulously designed and printed paraphernalia but with no real strategy or plan as to how they are going to use it.

For any marketing campaign to be successful, online or offline, there needs to be a strategy that drives it. You need to be confident you know who you are reaching out to, the best way of doing it and how you will measure the success of an offline marketing campaign.

In Summary

Offline marketing is not dead, and neither should it be executed in a vacuum or separate from your online marketing campaigns.

Don’t fall into the trap of assuming your own in-house design efforts are ‘good enough’. Be consistent with branding and have a strategy, complete with review stages, to ensure the best possible chances of success.

4 Insider Tips On The Perfect Name For Your Startup

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4 Insider Tips On The Perfect Name For Your Startup - MyStartupLand
Your business plan is written. Funding is lined up. And your leadership has been chosen. There’s only one thing missing – the perfect name for your startup. While you may want to use the first name that pops into your head, this could hurt your startup’s chances of success before you begin.
 
With over 23,000 startups in Silicon Valley alone, your new business needs a powerful, evocative name to differentiate yourself from the thousands of other companies looking to become the next Facebook or Tesla.  Setting aside time and resources, finding the perfect name is one of the best things you can do for your startup.
 
Squadhelp.com has helped thousands of startups create the perfect name, and to help you on your startup naming journey, we’ve outlined below four things to avoid when naming your startup.
 

Don’t Bore Customers With Your Name

Today’s average consumer is overwhelmed with companies and products all vying for their attention and business. Often, brands only have a few seconds to catch a customer’s attention before they move on. In those few short seconds, you don’t have time to lay out the finer details of what makes your startup superior to your competitors.
 
Instead, you must rely on your name to help you stand out from the sea of startups offering similar products or services.  Your name could be what makes the difference between someone choosing your app instead of scrolling to the next one on the list.
 
Choosing a boring name puts you at a disadvantage from the start – people are going to be drawn to an evocative name, not a dull or standard one. Imagine if Mark Zuckerberg decided to name his new tech company Zuckerberg Friend Finder, instead of Facebook!
 

Don’t Be Obscure When Naming Your Startup

A brand that’s clever or witty can be very appealing to the right audience. Yet, when it comes to a name, don’t go for an obscure metaphor that only a handful of your target audience will understand.
 
Obscure or complicated names are easily forgotten – we’ve all had those moments when we’re desperately trying to recall the name of a business. If we don’t remember it quickly, when we need it, then that business has lost a potential sale.
 
With the bottom line of your startup resting on the ability of potential customers to recall your name, choosing an obscure name doesn’t make financial sense.
 

Don’t Complicate Your Name

We’ve all come across a business or brand name that we have no idea how to pronounce. Unfortunately for the company, you will likely avoid mentioning the name to others to avoid embarrassment. You want your customers to be able to remember and pronounce your name, encouraging their friends or family to look it up on social media or online.
 
Organic customer referrals are one of the most rewarding sources of revenue, and creating an easy-to-remember name is one of the best things your company can do to drive those recommendations. Don’t miss out on potential brand advocates with an overly complicated or difficult-to-pronounce name.
 

Don’t Forget To Look At Legality

When naming your startup, keep legal implications in mind throughout the entire naming process.  Choosing a name that is already in use will not only negate your aim of being unique but may also cause legal trouble down the road.
 
Trademarks can be tough to navigate without help from an expert. You can check with the United States Patent & Trademark Office to find out if your desired name is registered as a trademark. However, we always recommend hiring a professional to help you navigate the legal issues surrounding starting your business.
 
While coming up with a great name for your startup should be an exciting and creative process, remember that naming is more difficult than most people think. Don’t let the wrong name hurt your startup before you get it off the ground. Putting time and resources into finding the perfect name is a worthy investment and will help you rise above your competitors.
 
What name have you chosen for your startup? Share it here below and we will be happy to provide feedback!

How To Control Stress Factors At Your Startup In 2017

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Control Stress Factors In Startups - MyStartupLand

Work is one of the primary causes of stress in most people, and stress levels can be particularly high in startups. This may be because some people feel the weight of the company’s success on their ability to perform well. Non-defined job roles and titles in a new company can also contribute to high-stress levels. Stress, unfortunately, can result in high rates of absenteeism, job dissatisfaction and increased turnover, physical illness and more. These are all factors that can ultimately have negative consequences on your company culture and the success of your business. What’s the best way to control stress factors? 

If you have determined that work-related stress at your startup is high, you may be wondering how to manage stress effectively for you and your employees. After all, the last thing you may want is a lack of stress management in the workplace to lead to the ultimate demise of your team and to sabotage your startup’s path to success. You should identify what the primary costs of stress are in your workplace, and you can employ some of these effective ways to moderate work-related stress in your business to improve the situation.

Create a Common Higher Goal

In many companies, the unfortunate reality is that those who are not working in a managerial position often feel as though their work is not important. This fosters ill-will and gives them the feeling they are simply spinning their wheels in a pointless job to earn a paycheck. As you might imagine, this breeds discontent and ultimately causes stress. If you are ready to learn how to control stress in the workplace, you must combat this problem head on by creating a common goal that all employees are working for. Each person should be able to clearly see his or her value in the organization and should see that his or her efforts contribute directly to the goal in a meaningful way.

Empower Your Employees With a Clear Organizational Structure

Some stress in the workplace may be generated through your organizational structure. When you have a complicated or fuzzy organizational structure, some employees may not feel empowered to make important decisions relevant to their tasks on their own. Constantly having to seek approval from the supervisor for routine activities can cause stress. In addition, seemingly overlapping structural lines can also result in stress. Talk to your employees about their concerns regarding organizational structure, and create a structure that results in the most effective workflow.

Review Your Compensation Structure

It is common for businesses to set up a compensation that rewards employees for their performance. This is particularly common in sales positions, but financial rewards are also common in other positions. This can cause individual stress in the employee as he or she feels the pressure to perform at peak levels constantly. In some cases, it breeds resentment and encourages verbal confrontations among employees who are competing head-to-head for the same type of compensation. An alternative to this type of structure may be to create a financial reward system that is based on team or department effort rather than on individual effort.

Nurture Your Employees With the Implementation of New Programs

Because stress is so common in many work environments, you may consider offering your employees compensation for stress at work in nurturing ways. For example, some companies will bring in a masseuse once a month to offer desk massage that targets the neck, shoulders, and back. Some will also incorporate nurture and wellness with team-building or socialization events, such as a happy hour mixer at a nearby venue or volunteering together as a group for a charity organization on a Saturday morning.

Leverage technology to protect and improve worker health

Healthy companies start with healthy employees. Thanks to new technology, companies are now able to monitor what their staff members are up to and how they are doing physically. They can determine whether their staff are tired or stressed. Are their employees getting enough exercise and sleep outside of work? Many companies are incorporating wearable technologies, asking their employees to wear Fitbit or Jawbone trackers, for example. Some companies track their staff member well-being as a KPI. However, you don’t want to go overboard with it, monitoring way too much and too serious can cause even a greater amount stress.

Prioritize Workplace Wellness

Another smart idea is to educate your employees about wellness and stress-relief. The reality is that many individuals can reduce their stress level on their own. For example, you can set up an educational program in your office that includes yoga instruction, mindfulness, relaxation breathing techniques and more. Employees may be able to do some basic stretches or deep breathing techniques in their work area when they are feeling particularly stressed out.

Final Thought

Stress may most commonly be associated with tension headaches and a rapid heartbeat or sweating, but it can lead to excessive tension, high blood pressure, weight gain, fatigue from sleepless nights and even heart issues and other serious conditions. Because stress levels can be particularly high in a new startup business, bosses should be aware of signs of stress in their employees. Stress management in the workplace should be a top priority.

There are many factors that can cause stress in your team members as well as your managers. You should identify the causes of stress in your office as a first step. Then, you can use some of these stress management ideas to improve the situation with long-lasting results.

Do you agree with these suggestions on how to control stress factors in startups? Do you have any additional advice? Share with us your ideas!

The Billion Dollar Club: Build A Unicorn Or Fail Trying

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Unicorn startup simulator - MyStartupLand

Do you want to join the “Billion Dollar Club“? Do you think you can really build a successful startup and get it valued at the magical figure of $1B? Do you believe to know what is the most appropriate decision to take to make your people happy as well as increasing revenues? Are you ready to build a unicorn or fail while trying?

Joining the startup wagon is becoming increasingly common. Many of us are tired of their 9-5 job and want to build their dream. Some others are not happy to make money for their boss and want to start building their own empire. But do you seriously think to have what it takes to be successful in the Silicon Valley?

Building a startup is no game. Or is it? 

Someone thought it would be funny (and rightly so) to create a game around entrepreneurial decision-making. Unicorn Startup Simulator by Toggl is just what you need on a lazy weekend, while your thoughts are around quitting your job and getting on that idea that you have been thinking about for while.

What’s best than testing your entrepreneur’s ability while playing a game?

Unicorn startup simulator - MyStartupLand

The game is highly addictive and I warn you now, you won’t be stopping until you join the “Billion Dollar Startup Club“.

Although a game, the creator smartly presents strange, sometimes crazy, but very realistic situations and you got to take a decision. Go big or go home! Is that the winning mentality? Or perhaps you need to be more conservative? Up to you to decide and see your startup get to $1B by the end of the year or see your employees revolt and run away.

It is a fine line between balancing employees happiness and making more money.

Are you going to please your investors? Or buy a standing desk for the whole company? Or even lose time in some useless events because “It’s FREE PR”?

Choose wisely and have fun!

 

A CEO Checklist On Leadership

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A CEO checklist – What leadership is - MyStartupLand

Leadership has been discussed many times. As well as the idea whether it can be trained or not. Having worked with many C-executives, I stick to the opinion that leadership comes from the inside, although a proper training will never hurt. But training is more like polishing a diamond, rather than creating it.

Here below, 4 dimensions on which I believe leadership relies on. 

What Is Leadership And What Does It Depend On?

Any job title. You can be a leader at any position if you take responsibility for what you are doing and contribute to the company, not to yourself, at all directions that you see possible. Progress comes with the answers to the simple question – what can be done better? Once you start taking responsibility beyond your current role, rest assured – you will be noticed.  Leadership is shining through any person who internally has it and honestly lives it.

… Integrity. Always check your assumptions upon which you are basing your decisions. Are you acting out of your center or shrinking yourself because of fear? Do you truly respect people around you or just trying to get something for yourself? Focus on long-term results and not on short-term gains. Short-term gains are usually turning into losses later on.  And remember – people around are monitoring you, although subconsciously sometimes. Respect is something which is earned, not imposed on.

… Leadership style. If you are wondering what leadership style to develop, remember, be fair and honest.  You can retain good relationship with people, without sounding too familiar or being great buddies with them. Otherwise, you can fall a victim of personal attitude which can prevent you from judging objectively and taking right decisions. This is why it is so difficult to work with your closest friends.

… Professional look. Some people think if they look professional they are professional. But the truth is – an expert will always see the difference between seeming and being. All these attributes of corporate world, like expensive suit and fancy graphs are a great complement to the package, but not a substitute for it. Never judge a book by its cover and never think that cover is enough, because somebody may be curious to read a book. Work at your substance thoroughly, as real leaders do.

The conclusion is as simple as all life wisdom – act out of your integrity, do not allow others to decide for you, be always honest and do not subordinate just because someone is more powerful than you are at the moment. This someone might be wrong – so question him and stand for yourself. And the crucial benefit of being your authentic self is that you do not have to think of how you come across – it will be just right.

True leadership is hard because you will be always encountering people who will try to let you down to their own level instead of trying to reach yours. This is nice and easy for them, it seems cozy and comfortable, like a grandma’s sweater on the attic, full of holes and dust. But this is a dangerous path, a road to self-destruction, and contributes to the deterioration of the whole world.

Be honest and faithful with yourself, stick to your best guts and breakthroughs, never allowing anyone to intoxicate you with an unreasonable doubt about yourself.

I am blessed in my life to know great and humble leaders, from whom I can learn and become a leader at some point. I listen to them and become better.

Do you think that leadership depends on other factors? Have you met in your life some true leaders who have inspired you to grow as a better professional?

Last Call To Apply For FasterCapital

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FasterCapital - MyStartupLand

In a crowded space where startup accelerators are growing like mushrooms after a rainy day, either funded by state or by corporates, it is crucial to find a winning model that attract the right entrepreneurs.

Startup accelerators or incubators are means for startup founders around the world to create their dream, especially in those areas where the startup culture is still growing.

What Are The Current Problems With The Startup Programs Models?

Most startup accelerators and incubators have the standard approach to target early-stage startups, give some funds and host them for 3-6 months (depending on the program) in a co-working space. Despite being a very wide-spread model, it still presents several drawbacks:

  1. Most of the startup founders tend to be tech-oriented, focusing on building technology rather a product.
  2. Young startup founders don’t have the right experience to understand what product could be “ready-to-use” by enterprises and tend to focus on consumer-oriented products, which are way more complicated to market and hence to make successful.
  3. Fewer startups are targeting the B2B space, although this is the best market where revenues can be generated more easily.
  4. Non-tech founders are usually ignored by many incubators because they don’t have the skills to build products; however, tend to be the few that have a stronger experience in defined industries and are able to spot “winning” ideas.

Is It Possible To Change It?

FasterCapital is trying to change the way things are done. This incubator is shifting the attention towards the beginning of the process, by becoming co-founder and co-funder. As co-founders, FasterCapital works on developing the software side of the startup (mobile, web). As cofunders, FasterCapial co-funds the startup from idea stage and until it can generate revenues. With FasterCapital the entrepreneurs are not left alone and the incubator is ready to support the startup and finance it over a period of one to two years until it starts to generate income.

As an incubator, they provide idea validation, feasibility study, market analysis, product development, help in sales/marketing, mentorship and financial help until the startup is cash flow positive.

FasterCapital offers two programs: “Acceleration Program” and “Incubation Program”.

In the “Acceleration Program”, FasterCapital will provide mentorship, access to capital and extra consulting services (legal, technological and marketing) to startup founders.

What distinguishes FasterCapital, however, is the “Incubation Program” which is targeting non-technical entrepreneurs. FasterCapital will become a (tech) co-founder and co-funder (as one of the first investors). It will provide technical development per equity (up to $500k for each startup). The “Incubation Program” might also appeal to tech entrepreneurs who seek some help in covering some of the early investment in the startup.

The last round of funding has attracted more than 1000 entrepreneurs from more than 60 countries. Now FasterCapital is again looking successful for startup founders from around the world to join their program. The deadline is the 18th of December, 2016. Here’s a direct link to apply for the program!

 

 

FasterCapital is a virtual incubator based in Dubai Internet City, UAE. FasterCapital has more than 18 graduated startups, 15 startups in incubation program, 164 startups in the acceleration program plus more than 115 regional partners and 72 offices worldwide. FasterCapital has invested more than 10 million USD since its inception in 2010.

Corporate Startup Accelerators Are Evil

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Corporate Startup Accelerators - MyStartupLand

Big corporations have long understood the need to be present (and acquire) new startups to either eliminate long-term potential competitors or get technology that are not able to develop fast enough.

Another way corporations are starting to play a crucial role in the startup world is by funding so-called corporate startup accelerators. These are pretty much the same as the usual startup accelerator, but in addition they:

  1. Are owned or sponsored (+50%) by one or more corporate entities, which have nothing to do with startups
  2. Have (apparent) different interests than the sponsoring/parent company

Usually, corporate startup accelerators pretend lower than usual equity in the startup invested or are able to offer higher initial investments. Some other of these programs offer a “no money no equity” deal, which pretty much translates into mentoring and guidance.

According to Corporate Accelerators Database, at the moment there are 71 active programs worldwide.

While all this seems like a nice fairy tail, it’s always good to keep an eye open and listen to different sides of the same story. I have experienced first-hand how an accelerator program can actually hurt your business instead of helping it.

Are Corporate Startup Accelerators Good?

While doing some research and filtering out all the promotional content that there’s online, I came across a very interesting video shared on Facebook by TheFamily, an incubator in France.

The message is clear.

When Oussama Ammar was asked whether it’s a good idea or not to join a corporate startup accelerator, he replied quite frankly with a “No. Corporate startup accelerators are evil and should not exist!

He goes on and states that “It’s like asking right-wing people to rap. You sound fake. You cannot“.

After all, we start a startup, because we want to be pirates. We want to disrupt old industries, where all these corporations are making billions and blocking innovation. We don’t want to work for the navy. As Ammar says, if you want to join the navy, do that from the very beginning.

Startups should understand what are the real reasons corporates want to get in the startup game. As a startup founder, you should not get in partnership with someone that is way bigger than you are (and will have control over you as a result of that partnership). If you do that, you’ll get a giant in your cap table. They will make your life impossible for “reasons you don’t even understand“.

It’s easy to complain about something. Very easy. But Ammar gives a real-life example that should make all founders think very careful about such decision.

He was involved as a board member in a startup that joined Telefonica accelerator. The startup founders, then, received an offer by one of Telefonica’s competitors for acquisition. Guess what? Telefonica did everything possible to stop the acquisition to happen. They had 6% in the startup (no investment made) but still blocked the possible transaction.

Ammar can hear your complaints, though. You are thinking that this makes no sense, after all, we are in business. Interests are aligned. If we get bought, why would Telefonica (or any other major corporate) interfere? They would also make money. The reality is that for them a 6% of a potential 100M acquisition (and we are going very high here) means nothing. Nada! Zero!

You are now part of a (bigger) political problem in which you have no influence. You are now part of Telefonica, one of their employees, “a great position to be in. An employee with no salary and no benefits“.

As startups became more accessible to everyone, and more and more people want to escape the everyday job to follow their dreams, external validation becomes more and more important.

Being accepted in a startup accelerator is a victory. It can also become a milestone. I had that in my startup pitch. I got accepted in an accelerator, it means I am doing something good. Sometimes, however, I thought about it “I got money with a 10 slide presentation and an idea. There is more money to grab around”, and then you end up attending every single startup competition or event and waste your time on what it seems to be working, but instead it’s just networking and you forget to build your dream.

External validation became more important that the actual work.

This 4 minutes video is very important for anyone out there thinking about getting in a startup accelerator. Think about why you want to join one and what value they really bring to your startup. Think carefully before deciding. The wrong decision can have long-term consequences.

 

Have you had a difference experience with corporate startup accelerator? Was your program able to give you a real added value?

The Ultimate Investor Blogs List To Follow Today

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Ultimate Investor Blogs List- MyStartupLand

The ultimate investor blogs list to follow is a collection of top VCs and angel investors blogs every startup founder should read.

As a startup founder, we are always on the look for answers to our doubts. We don’t know everything, and we know it, even if we behave differently. We live in this state of stress and fear (sometimes), thinking what to do next.

When I had my startup, most of the time, I didn’t have an answer to most of my questions, not to mention those of the people around me. However, I had to put on my “nice” face on and answer confidently about a possible solution. For this reason, when having questions or doubts on what next, I tended to avoid asking the close ones about advice.

We might venture out and ask our startup advisors. However, reality is that we need an answer by a person who has experienced, if not the same, a similar situation like the one we are living in.

Most of the times, we end up reading blogs of more experienced people, trying to find out how they crossed that moment.

With 152M blogs online (2013) pushing information to hungry readers, we tend to spend quite some time reading what someone else wrote. But how can we make sure that the information we get is legit? How can we trust those sources? How can we read everything?

There’s so much online and sometimes it can get confusing. I found myself lost more than once, overwhelmed with growth tactics, tips on how to approach investors, content strategy and just shit. Yes, shit. A lot of shit. Because there’s a ton of this online and it’s difficult to spot the proper stuff you want to be investing your time reading.

Being in the startup business, I believe it’s fundamental to collect top VC or angel investor blogs, where entrepreneurs can go and grab what they need. The list of investors who blog is very long. It took me a long time to pull together this list and I am sure I left someone outside. I focused mainly on U.S. and European investors, mainly because I know more this markets than the Asian and Middle East one. I voluntarily left out some company blogs that didn’t really seem to add much value.

 

1. Fred Wilson – avc.com

A VC since 1986. Working at Union Square Ventures, he writes daily on his blog about pretty much everything going on in his world, from the personal to the business  sphere. He encourages communication with the readers. As an idea, each of his blog posts tends to attract roughly 100 comments.

Follow him @FredWilson or @AVC

2. Brad Feld – FeldThoughts

Another experienced VC, active since 1987. He is founder at Foundry Group and Techstars (one of the world’s leading startup accelerators). He takes passion in mentorship and guidance. His blog posts are very insightful and interesting to read. He is also active with several non-profit organizations.

Follow him @bfeld

3. Jason Ball – Techbytes

He is the director of Qualcomm Ventures. He is very active in the mobile and online space. His blog is a concentrate of interesting and practical advice for startup founders. His style is short and direct to the point, making it easy to read and implement. An example is this blog post about The Perfect Pitch.

Follow him @jasonball

4. Mark Cubain – Blog Maverick

He doesn’t really need an introduction. He is probably one of the most well-known businessmen around (also for those outside the startup industry). He owns the NBA’s Dallas Maverick, Landmark Theaters, and Magnolia Pictures. The blog is about his perspective on  financial markets, but also about his experience as a businessman, entrepreneur and angel investor.

Follow him @mcuban

5. Tim Berry – BPlans

Founder of Palo Alto Software, he has invested most of his time on small businesses. He built his own website and shares stories about his own ventures and investments. The blog is practical and full of hands-on advice on business planning, startups, and business growth.

Follow him @Timberry

6. Chris Dixon – Cdixon

An entrepreneur from New York turned VC, he decided to move his blog on to Medium. He has invested in many great companies and likes to see things from a wider perspective, rather than the specifics. He looks at industry trends and sees the connections or implications with the startup world. His blog is particularly interesting because rarely you can find someone who has succeeded on both the VC and startup founder side.

Follow him @cdixon

7. Jeffrey Finkle – Fink About It

An angel investor who likes to give insights on his daily activities in the startup world. His blog is an important resource for startup founders as it is possible to find in-depth advice on investments, startups, and life in general. There are also quite a few podcasts that help the learning.

Follow him @jfinkle

8. Fred Destin – Open Source Venture Capital 

He was founding investor at Seedcamp and partner Atlas Venture, which focuses on early stage startups in the life science and technology innovation. His focus is on software, e-commerce, and digital media. He is an investor in some very interesting startups, such as Dailymotion, Zoopla, PriceMinister or Cinemagram. Since he moved to the U.S. he is mentoring at Techstars.

Follow him @fdestin

9. Jalak Jobanputra – The barefoot VC

Founding partner of Future Perfect Venture, an early-stage VC in New York City. She is been a VC since 1999. She is also a Techstars mentor. Being one of the few women in a white male predominant space, her blog is definitely a must-read. She brings a new perspective into social and impact investing.

Follow her on @jalak

10. Dharmesh Shah – On Startups

He is the CTO of Hubspot. The website is not properly a blog written by him, but rather a collection of different blog posts by different entrepreneurs. The idea is to have a place where you can identify situations where you might find yourself in as a startup founder. The website focuses particularly on software startups.

Follow him at @dharmesh

11. AngelList Blog

Blog of the well-known website AngelList. It is one of the best blogs around to find stories about early stage startups, that received fundings. Here you can find those “How I made it” posts that can give us some interesting hints and extra motivation.

Follow it at @AngelList

12. Christoph Janz – The angel VC

Co-founder and MD at Point Nine Capital. Prior to that, he was a successful Internet Entrepreneur (2 exits) and angel investor. His blog focuses on SaaS, Internet Startups and angel investing. It’s important to keep this blog in mind as Janz started blogging about startups and investments even before Social Media was a thing.

Follow him at @chrija

13. David Cohen – Hi, I’m David Cohen

Founder and Managing Partner at Techstars, number 1 ranked startup accelerator worldwide. He has been the founder of several startups in the Software and Web Technology space. As a person deeply involved in early-stage startups, he is an advocate and mentor of many startups. His blog is a must-read for every startup founder launching a new company.

Follow him at @davidcohen

14. Paul Graham – Essays

Co-founder of YCombinator, one of the top startup accelerator around. No list would be complete without Paul Graham’s. The blog posts are usually quite lengthy, but worth every minute the read. You can find a wide variety of topics, from seed-stage company facts, cultural trends, customer behaviors and more generally personal habits. One of his best “essay” is about angel investing.

Follow him at @paulg

15. Mark Suster – Both Sides Of The Table

Partner at GRP Partners, Mark has been on both sides of the table, entrepreneur and investor. He knows what he is talking about because he experienced it. His knowledge is quite vast, as he lived both situations as a startup founder, but also as a VC ready to invest in a company. He blogs extensively on a wide variety of topics, fundraising, industry analysis, sales strategies, and startup culture.

Follow him at @msuster

16. Dave McClure – 500 Hats

If you want to have insights by one of the most influential people in the startup space, you need to read Dave McClure’s blog. He was an early employee at Paypal (Director of Marketing) and after leaving, he started to invest in several internet startups. He is the mind behind 500 Startups founded in 2010. As the name of his startup accelerator might suggest, he has invested in more than 500 startups worldwide. This means that he has been exposed to quite a few stories about product development, fundraising, go-to-market strategy, building teams and so on.

Follow him at @davemcclure

17. Ben Horowitz – Ben’s Blog

Partner at Andreessen Horowitz. One of the most interesting author in the VC space. He is quite a character and you can see it on his blog. He starts every single post with a rap lyric. He has great advice on several topics, but the strongest ones seem to be team building, career development, hiring and startup culture.

Follow him at @bhorowitz

18. Nic Brisbourne – The Equity Kicker

Currently managing partner at Forward Partners. He started his blog in 2006 and since then the website has gained strong traction, becoming a reference for European startup founders. HIs insights and opinions are highly regarded also among other investors.

Follow him at @brisbourne

19. Bill Gurley – Above the Crowd

He has over 10 years experience as a VC as a partner at Benchmark Capital. Although he doesn’t write as often as others, his blog posts are full of insights and details. As a matter of fact, his entries are quite lengthy, but worth the read. He focuses on pricing strategy, mobile trends and metrics.

Follow him at @bgurley

20. Seraf Investor – The Seraf Compass

The blog is run by those behind Seraf Investor, a software company providing angel investors the necessary means to keep things organized as their portfolio grows bigger. The two co-founders have great experience in investment, so expect a lot of entrepreneurial language and details. This is definitely a good blog to bookmark to learn how to gain investments.

Follow it at @serafinvestor

21. Venture Hacks Blog

It is run by AngelList co-founders Babak Nivi and Naval Ravikant. The two of them are quite experienced as start founders, but also as angel investors (early stage investment in Twitter). The blog includes information on h

Follow it at @venturehacks

22. Thomas Grota – A Personal View On Venture Capital

He is an Investment Director at The Corporate Venture Capital firm at Deutsche Telekom AG. He has over 15 years experience in the IT and telecommunication industry. He is also a mentor at Seedcamp and HackFwd. The blog gives us insights on his daily life as an investor with insights on industry events and opinions on how the European VC landscape will look like in the future.

Follow him at @thomasgr

23. Tomasz Tunguz Blog

He is a VC at Redpoint. His style is different from many others. He writes short and punchy blog posts that get his point across quite clearly. In this way, it’s very easy to read and digest his entries.

Follow him at @ttunguz

24.The Gust Blog

Gust.com is another platform that connects startups with investors. The blog is a very useful concentration of stories on both sides of the table. There are stories about startups by VCs who decided to invest in them, and also posts about startups by entrepreneurs who run them.

Follow it at gustly

25. Jason Calacanis Blog

A serial entrepreneur, investor, podcaster, and writer, Jason Calacanis is a very well known name in the VC space, either because they love him or not. He writes about early stage investments and entrepreneurship. His views are not always following the general opinion.

Follow him at @Jason

26. Adam Quinton – A2A: Analyst To Angel

Founder and CEO of Lucas Point Ventures. His focus is on supporting diverse management teams. Not only he is active as an investor, he is also a mentor/advisor in several groups. The blog focuses on the inner workings of investment from an investor point of view.

Follow him at @adamquinton

27. Ciaran O’Leary – Berlin VC

With 8 years experience in the VC world, he is a partner at EarlyBird, a European VC firm focusing on technology ventures. He is one of the few (if the not he only) relevant blogger in the VC space sitting in Berlin, making him an unofficial representative of the “Silicon Alle” of Europe. Compared to other blogs, his is relatively new, but very interesting to follow, especially if you are interested in the Berlin ecosystem.

Follow him at @ciaranoleary

28. Joanne Wilson – Gotham Gal

Her blog focuses on empowering female entrepreneurs on different aspects of life. She started in 2007 with one angel investment, and since then her portfolio grew to more than 90 companies. The blog talks about her experience as an entrepreneur as well as an angel investor.

Follow her at @thegothamgal

29. David Teten – Teten

Partner at ff Venture Capital. His work focuses on identifying promising early-stage companies. Since 2008, he invested in over 90 companies for an aggregate market value of over $4 billion. David is Founder and Chairman Emeritus of Harvard Business School Alumni Angels of Greater New York, the largest angel group on the East Coast.

Follow him at @dteten

30. Leapfounder Blog

An Amsterdam-based company, providing a platform to increase access to investment opportunities for smaller investors. Their blog is based on stories by angel investors you can learn from.

Follow it at @Leapfunder

 31. Basil Peters – Strategic Exit

Basil is the CEO of Strategic Exit, a company that helps other companies getting an exit. His belief is that the most thrilling moment of being an entrepreneur is the exit strategy. The blog focuses on this topic.

Follow him at @basilpeters

32. Creandum Blog

A VC firm based in Stockholm and Palo Alto that invested in companies such as Spotify, iZettle, and TicTail among others. The blog offers a lot of interesting insights into the VC life as well as investment activities.

Follow it at @creandum

33. Pawel Chudzinski – Notes of a VC in Berlin/Europe

Co-founder of early stage VC fund Point Nine Capital. Before that, he also co-founded Team Europe. On his blog, you can find in-depth posts on what VCs like to hear and see in a startup and global vs (multi-) local startups among other interesting topics.

Follow him at @pawell

34. Martin Mignot – Unvalidated Learnings

Martin is an early-stage investor at Index Ventures in London. His focus investments are in SaaS, marketplaces, bitcoin and mobile businesses. He has worked on more than 50 transactions including Codecademy, Farfetch, and Just Eat. The blog covers a different array of topics, from personal commentary to business quotes and links to interesting tech reads.

Follow him at @martinmignot

35. Roberto Bonanzinga – Entrepreneurship at Work

In 2014, he moves from Partner to Venture Partner at European VC firm Balderton Capital to take on more activities as an angel investor. The blog is on Medium and covers a variety of topics focusing on VC struggles and Entrepreneurs’ activities.

Follow him at @bonanzinga

36. Albert Wenger – Continuations

He is a partner at Union Square Ventures, an NYC-based early-stage VC firm, focusing on disruptive networks. Before becoming a VC, he was the president of del.icio.us through the company sale to Yahoo! His blog focuses on market trends, financial markets and their impacts on startups.

Follow him at @albertwenger

37. Guy Kawasaki Blog

Guy Kawasaki needs no introduction. He is one of the most influential people in the Silicon Valley. He is Chief Evangelist of Canva. In the past, he had the same role for Apple. He is not only very active as a blogger but has written quite a few interesting books to help start founders.

Follow him at @GuyKawasaki

38. Hunter Walk Blog

Hunter is a partner at Homebrew and previously led consumer product management at YouTube. In his blog, he talks about building a new VC firm, his investments, and his hits and misses along the way.

Follow him at @hunterwalk

39. Sam Altman Blog

He is the president of Y Combinator, the very well-known seed-stage investor/accelerator. Sam Altman knows a lot of things and this is the place where he shares his knowledge. He covers broad topics from net neutrality to starting a company, touching on things like hiring and employee retention. His blog is a great read for both a VCs perspective on the tech industry and for insight into broad trends

Follow him at @sama

40. Charlie O’Donnell – This Is Going To Be Big

Partner at Brooklyn Bridge Ventures. Like other VCs taking on blogging, he talks about his investments and why he makes them. But, he also has great advice on growth strategies for early-stage startups.

Follow him at @ceonyc

 

Should you follow daily all of this? No, I don’t think that’s necessary. Perhaps it is a good idea to bookmark them and check every now and then when you have doubts. One of them might have the answer you are looking for.

Do you recommend any other investor blog that I should add to this list? Have you benefit from any of these blogs?