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The Best Tech Tips For Remote Workers

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Tips For Remote Workers - MyStartupLand

Working remotely is becoming more and more common among many organizations. It allows workers to take on flexible hours, fit in an afternoon workout session, or even work from the comfort of their sweatpants. For many, this might sound like a dream coming true. For others, however, working remotely isn’t so simple. The freedom offered by remote work can be tough for some employees to manage. As a matter of fact, it can oftentimes be more challenging to get right than a typical desk job.

Without a bit of planning, remote working can often take on adverse effects from its original intent. Rather than facilitating a comfortable and productive atmosphere, many employees are more likely to feel stressed, sluggish, and out of the loop.

Luckily, technology is on the side of today’s remote employees. There are plenty of tech tools out there to help ease the transition of working remotely. These also help ensure that it’s an effective work culture for any employee. We’ve selected three of the top challenges that employees face when working remotely. We then discussed some of our favorite tech tools to overcome them.

Challenge #1: Communication

Communication - MyStartupLand

One of the most significant challenges that can arise from working remotely is communication, whether it be with a boss, manager, or other team members. In fact, over 20 percent of people who work remotely have identified communication and collaboration as their greatest struggle. With workers stationed in a wide variety of locations, it can become difficult to discuss tasks or ask questions. This issue can be amplified if a portion of a team works in the office, while others are remote. Remote workers might miss out on cubicle wall meetings and chats by the coffee machine. Unless the company has built a culture of inclusion for remote workers, some feel out of sight and out of mind.  

See Also: What Are The Top Cities For Working Remotely In 2018?

To combat this problem, be sure to utilize at least one of the many communication platforms that are available today. SimpleTexting has determined Slack to be the most popular messaging app used by remote workers, but Google Hangouts and Trello are also common among office environments. These conversational tools allow employees to communicate simply and cross-functionally, regardless of location. A brief message can suffice to quickly update teams on projects or other business functions.

Aside from helping to complete work-related tasks, chat tools can be a fun way to boost employee morale. Employees can use it to send GIFs and emojis, celebrate work anniversaries or birthdays, share inside jokes and more. If you’re looking for a method that provides more face-to-face communication, try a web chat tool like Skype or Fuze.

Challenge #2: Burnout

One of the many reasons managers hesitate to enact remote work is because they fear that without traditional structure and supervision, employees are more likely to slack off throughout the day. However, the opposite tends to be the reality— remote employees are much more likely to overwork. When working from home, it can be difficult to determine when the workday actually begins and ends.

Many remote workers have confessed to having a hard time remembering to take breaks. Stopping work at a reasonable time and knowing when is reasonable to stop are also major challenges. As Conrado Lamas, CMO at Carts Guru states, “There is always something to be solved— and when you have an office routine, it’s easier to leave what you do at the workplace. When you work from home, your office is where you live.”

Because remote workers often work independently, they’re less likely to take short breaks throughout the day. Chatting with a colleague, grabbing a coffee, or taking a quick lap around the office is not an option. Therefore, remote workers are most susceptible to the negative effects of employee burnout, like exhaustion, stress, and disengagement.

To prevent burnout and encourage a healthy workflow, try utilizing an electronic Pomodoro Timer. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management technique which utilizes a timer to measure work periods. This works in twenty-five-minute increments, followed by a short three to five-minute break. After repeating this process four times, the method recommends taking a longer, fifteen to thirty-minute break. Monitoring the time spent working ensures that remote workers still receive ample time throughout the day to take short breaks. Time Out is also a great tool exclusive to Mac users that allows employees to customize how often breaks happen, how long they are, and more. Additionally, the app actually blocks out the screen. In this way, employees are unable to use their device until the break is over.

Challenge #3: Productivity

Productivity At Startups - MyStartupLand

Though remote workers frequently work longer hours, they’re faced with many small distractions that can hinder a day’s productivity. Sure, those who work from home can avoid co-workers dropping by their desk and other office occurrences. They do, however, have to endure interruptions like a UPS delivery person or a pet looking for extra attention. Not to mention, there’s the constant temptation to watch “just one more” episode of a new TV show or tidy up the kitchen when procrastinating an impending project.

See Also: How to Remain Productive While Traveling and Working Remotely

Remote workers need to be experts at time management, and many find it difficult to stick to a schedule and sustain their motivation throughout the day. Research has shown that every time an office worker is interrupted or switches tasks, it can take approximately 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to where they left off. Even the smallest of distractions can minimize productivity and impact workflow throughout the day.

Utilizing a project management tool like Podio can help outline tasks that need to be accomplished day by day and ensures that remote workers can stay on track, even after facing a bout of distraction. When faced with a hefty workload, a project management tool can help to organize tasks and streamline productivity. The workspace has a great influence on employees’ motivation. Try integrating a bit of tech into a work surface by using a standing desk. Not only are they beneficial to health, but they have also been shown to boost productivity by 46 percent.     

In conclusion, working remotely can be an excellent work method if approached in the right way. Despite the challenges listed above, remote work has been shown to improve business results for many organizations, while allowing employees to personalize their work environment. With the help of technology, employees can work at home both effectively and efficiently.  

What To Do If Your Prospect Asks For A Discount?

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What to do when a prospect asks for a discount - MyStartupLand

During the last 10 years of my sales career, I have never had a negotiation where pricing was not an issue. Most people believe that a discount is a synonym of something for free. However, depending on the industry you operate in, a discount might be part of the sales negotiation process. Understanding what to do if a prospect asks for a discount is crucial for your company long-term success.

Before diving into what to do and how to respond to a discount question, it’s important to set some internal processes when it comes to discounting prospects.

  1. Create a process around discount, i.e. When should your team give a discount to a prospect? What percentage are you ready to discount? What budget should a prospect commit to being eligible for a discount? Understanding these points and communicating to your team the best approach will create internal standards. In this way, you don’t need to review each and every discount situation.
  2. Understand your bottom line, i.e. How many prospects can you discount without harming your profits? What should be the discount range you can afford?

Once you have clear these two points, you can move on the next part.

Your Prospect Asked For A Discount, Now What?

If you are in sales, you know that discounts are a natural part of the negotiation process. It is unlikely someone will sign a deal without questions your pricing, especially in a B2B environment.

The following 5 ways will help you deal when a prospect asks for a discount.

1. Assess The Prospect’s Needs

Most sales situations are based on understanding what are your prospect’s needs. Can your product or service fulfill her needs? This is a key question that you and your team need to be asking all the time during the negotiation process.

When the discount question comes in, acknowledge the prospect question and dive into the value they are looking for. Sometimes, prospects ask for a discount for the sake of it. Other times they haven’t yet understood the value of your product or service.

2. Consider The Negotiation Stage

The negotiation stage is not straightforward. It’s like a dance and you must dance with the prospect in the right way. Leading, but giving the feeling that you are actually been led.

It’s not easy.

When it comes to discount though, it’s important to understand whether the question is coming in too early.

If the prospect is asking for a discount at the beginning of the negotiation process there might be some deeper problems. It could be that this prospect is not yet ready to commit to that budget and is making sure to set the right expectations. If that happens, you need to stop and think whether:

a) this is a prospect that fits your company long-term revenue strategy

b) this is the type of client that will bring any value to your business

3. Understand Why The Prospect Is Asking For A Discount

Why a prospect is asking for a discount - MyStartupLand

It’s simple, yet often forgotten. Asking why can be eye-opening from a sales perspective. This can give you a lot more information on what is happening on the prospect side. It can be that the prospect cannot commit to a specific amount of money all together and might need a different deal structure.

Understanding the reasons why a prospect asks for a discount can help you achieve more and structure proposal in a more compelling way for your potential clients.

4. Structure The Deal In A Favorable Way To You

When a prospect asks for a discount, we might be tempted to jump into it, because we want to close that deal. It’s important tough to create favorable terms for your company if you decide to go ahead with the discount.

Asking a prospect for a longer commitment when giving a discount can be a way to protect your interests. Making sure that they sign up for a longer period of time, and get discount only at the signup and not over time, is important to avoid giving the prospect the idea that discount is part of your normal procedure.

5. Understand What Would Make The Prospect Pay The Full Amount

When a prospect pushes back on pricing, it can be that you or your sales reps haven’t done a good job at selling. Have they explained the value of your product and service well enough?

Before giving away a discount, try to uncover any possible gaps in the sales process that you might have missed. Revisit any objections the prospect has brought up in the buying process and understand where there are opportunities to negotiate on other aspects outside of pricing.

Sales Negotiation - MyStartupLand

Dealing with a prospect that is asking for a discount is not an easy task. Most of the time we just go with the prospect to avoid any further delay in the buying process. But, is this the best way to produce results that make sense for your company? If you give away discounts too easily, you might harm your company bottom line. Unless you have a very good reason to give out discount (for example a new product line with early-stage technology), you need to assess every single discount request and position your offering in the right way.

How do you manage a prospect asking for a discount? Do you have any other advice? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

6 User Acquisition And Growth Hacking Strategies for Startups

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Growth Hacking Strategies - MyStartupLand

Making a startup stand out in a crowded marketplace is an uphill task. Some companies have had great success and from the external, it might look easy. However, without the best growth hacking strategies, achieving awareness is now that easy. On top of that, growth hacking techniques are not a one-size-fits-all strategy. 

There are plenty of great growth hacking examples to learn from. Some of these might be straightforward, but don’t be fooled, painstaking attention to detail is everything to achieve success.

Capitalize On Feedback

Capitalize On Feedback - MyStartupLand

The key question that any founder has to answer is what needs you are serving. Does that need exist at all? You must listen to people to answer that question. Feedback is imperative in the product cycle.

You will develop an idea by sampling at an emergent need within a given population. For example, to access your money back in the days, you had to go to the bank. Money available on mobile devices could be a great idea. How many people share the same feeling as you do?

As a startup founder, you will need to listen to people when developing the product, improving on it, promoting it, and so on. Feedback will give you great ideas to create a viral product, to plan the right marketing activities, and have the correct customer service.

Focus On Experience

Nowadays customers are needy. When approaching them, don’t present them with product specifications in technical jargon. Explain to them what will be the advantages of those product specs. Very few computer customers care about the RAM, ROM, processors; most of them want to know how these can help them in their daily tasks.

Some companies are using a spaceship to rock the world while others are still trying to polish their technical user manual. Ditch that for once! Can the computer open 300 applications without heating or slowing down? That is what the customer wants to know.

Be The First Mover

Grabbing customers’ attention is the first-mover’s privilege. No matter how hard you try after the first mover, you will always be the second best. However, when you are not the first one, you will try harder to gain customers trust. 

The idea is to develop a novel idea that stands out in the market. If your idea is an improvement of an existing product, highlight the differences or discount the costs to gain attention. 

Optimize Your Conversions

Optimize Your Conversion - MyStartupLand

Brand visibility is of utmost importance, but what you do with it defines your overall strategy. Conversions optimization is the ultimate growth hack for startups. The least you should do is to combine great tools and activities to improve user experience and engagement. You have to measure customer contacts, interactions, and onboarding rates. However, if the metrics you are using are not indicative enough for your business, think about a new strategy.

Web-based marketing efforts are extremely important in any startup’s growth. As a startup founder or digital marketer, you need to know the most effective digital channels and learn where to improve. 

Make Referrals A Win-Win Situation

Some referral links leave a pyramid scheme taste in your mouth. Don’t let that ever happen to your customers. First of all, make it easy for your customers to refer someone. Don’t make it feel like an application to Ivy League. Create an automatic referral campaign with three clicks at most. Once you have made it easy, make it also worthwhile for them. Everyone has to win—you, the referrer and the referral.

Loyalty and bonus points should be used for new and existing customers. You can combine referrals with psychological selling. For example, you could send customers a referral link with a time limit and high reward, customers either take it or miss it. 

Capitalize On Being Decisive

Mastering a winning strategy for user acquisition and growth hacking for startups is a journey littered with indecision. It is important to identify your niche and focus on it. Effective networks come from communities that complement each other. If you are unsure of picking a side, you may never be accessible or visible. Let your star shine before it even brightens up.

When you are outspoken, people tend to respect you. They are likely to mention you positively. Don’t miss out on TechCrunch-like forums. Be helpful to people on Quora and other social forums. Identify the channels that can help your startup grow. 

Hacking growth is a strategic decision that will require careful understanding of your target audience and the market. Don’t be shy, take it head on.

 

Have you tried any of these growth hacking techniques? Do you suggest any others we might have missed? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

How Instagram Stories Can Help Your Startup Growth

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Instagram Stories - MyStartupLand

Online businesses today use Instagram Stories to give voice and personality to their brands. This new channel allows startups to engage their customers and build loyalty among its user base. Here below we cover how Instagram Stories has proven to be beneficial to companies’ growth.

Instagram, as a platform, offers access to over 1 billion users. Instagram Stories’ daily active users, on the other hand, are roughly about 300 million. This represents a great opportunity for companies to showcase products, increase their popularity and strengthen their customer loyalty.

An average user spends about 28 minutes on the platform every day. This means that companies have ample time to get their target audience attention and put their services before them.

Businesses can also use Instagram Stories Ads to drive sales and engagement. One in three users accesses Stories every day, meaning that you have a high chance to engage with potential customers. A story shared by a brand usually direct its viewers to other platforms like shopping pages – a form of product advert.

Brand Stories can also take users to external social platforms. Asking viewers to follow the brand’s account or signing up for services provided by it is not uncommon. Other stories lead to external blog posts, product campaign pages, and the likes. 20% percent of these shared stories have been found to result in direct interactions with customers.

Content is the Key Behind Instagram Stories Success

Studies reveal that the majority of stories shared by companies advertise products. They are usually product promotions to make their audience aware of special offerings. 

Nearly 22% of stories take the viewers on an “inside look ” to build awareness about what the company is all about. Some companies use the feature to take their audience “behind the scene” for sneak peeks at new services or events.

For more astonishing facts about how businesses use Instagram stories to their advantage, check out the infographic below:

Instagram Stories - MyStartupLand

 

Have you used Instagram Stories to grow your user base? Did you experience any particular results using this channel? Share with us in the comment section below your experience and thoughts.

How To Start A Successful SEO Campaign

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Start Successful SEO Campaign - MyStartupLand

Plenty of commercial opportunities float across the Internet. It is up to you how to make the best use of it for earning revenue. This is the reason why digital marketing has become so relevant today.

There used to be a time when people believed that SEO was for business organizations only but as SEO evolved since then. It has become clear that even individual business owners can benefit from it. This led to the phenomenon of blogging, which today represents a good way to earn a leaving for many. Besides, SEO success revolves around the creation of useful content that has again brought blogging into prominence.

The Evolution Of SEO 

A few years ago, there were some doubts raised about the longevity of SEO. The emergence of new online avenues like social media appeared to overrule SEO. Many had even predicted the demise of SEO. However, as time passed, it became clear that SEO remains as powerful as before and works perfectly in tandem with social media platforms.

Although the SEO that we see today is much different from what it used to be many years ago, not much has actually changed.

Search engines are still the single most significant sources for driving traffic to websites even though various social media platforms, PPC campaigns, e-mail marketing, SMS marketing, video marketing, etc. also generate traffic.

Benchmarking Google Analytics Traffic Sources - MyStartupLand
@Wolfgang Digital

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People still have firm faith in search engines like Google to satisfy their appetite for information, find solutions to problems and researching a product or service before taking any purchasing decision. As a business owner, you can use these opportunities for reaching out to your target audience, earn their trust, and drive them to your website for engaging in business.

You can position yourself as a dependable entity for information, a problem solver, and a mentor who can educate them and in the process motivate them to buy your products. However, you must be capable of using SEO correctly, which is the only way to achieve your marketing goals.

Here is how you should proceed to start a successful SEO campaign.

The All-Around Importance Of Keywords

Keywords are at the heart of SEO, and the choice of keywords can make or break campaigns. Keywords not only help to earn good ranks in search results but also make business happen by driving traffic to websites.

It is by virtue of keywords that you can convince search engines to award high ranks to your site in the search results for increasing visibility. The same keywords would help people to find your site and encourage them to engage with it.

Depending on keywords helps to achieve the dual goal of high ranks and more traffic. To know which keywords to use for launching a successful SEO campaign you have to conduct a keyword research.

Keyword Research – The 1st Step To Start A Successful SEO Campaign

All keyword research begins with Google Keyword Planner which is an excellent tool to learn everything that you want to know about keywords. By using the tool, you can gather information about trending keywords and know about the frequency of its use.

To make the tool work, you have to input some indicative terms to describe the idea you want to express through content. After this, the tool will show results that contain similar words that people are searching for. It gives you enough idea about which kind of keyword is the closest to your idea, and you can start from there.

Google Keyword Planner - MyStartupLand

Some keywords are highly competitive and mostly dominated by larger companies with plenty of money power. Some others, on the other hand, face low competition yet remain effective.  Targeting the latter type of keywords is a sensible decision to make your SEO campaign get off the ground. Long tail keywords belong to this category that gives a lot of options to make headway with SEO.

Content Is King

Content is at the basis of creating successful marketing initiatives. Good content is an all-powerful tool for SEO, as it allows you to communicate and interact with your audience. Using engaging articles can also help you attract and retain leads.

Content has to be of high quality and relevant to the audience. If you follow this basic advice, the will result in traffic to your website. Quality content earns wide sharing and generates web authority that search engines treat as a positive signal for awarding better ranks in search results.

Content has the power of elevating websites to great heights that finds favor with both the audience and search engines. It’s important for any business owner to understand how to hack content marketing in 2018.

Control SEO With Proper Optimization

How SEO performs is entirely within your control because it depends on how well you optimize it. Adequate optimization results in a smarter and more effective SEO that comprises of the following:

  • Permalink or URL – The description of the website as stated in the URL or permalink acquires a lot on importance as it helps to understand at a glance what the website or web page is about. Keep the URL short but expressive and include keywords. The URL should make enough sense to reveal what lies under it.
  • Page or Post Title – Since the title appears in the search results, it conveys a lot of information for users who can sense if it would be useful to click on it. Titles have to be attractive and should contain keywords but keep its length within 55-60 characters to avoid the humiliation of Google cutting it short.
  • Meta Description – To motivate viewers to read the blog post you have to create a brief description of it which is the Meta description. It has to be self-explanatory, written in a few words (not more than 155 characters) and must entice readers to read the content.

 

The above optimization measures will help to launch a successful SEO campaign. These are just the initial steps, as there are many more things to do like building backlinks profile that give more strength to SEO.

 

How do you work on your SEO optimization strategy? How long has it taken you to achieve growth in organic traffic thanks to SEO? Share your thoughts and experience in the comment section below.

6 Mobile App Development Myths Startup Founders Believe In

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Mobile App Development - MyStartupLand

Mobile app development is the hottest topic in the market right now. Everyone is excitedly exploring the world of creating mobile apps. However, there are various secrets that the mobile industry holds in itself. There are various myths and misconceptions that prevent startups to invest in the most powerful and successful marketing tactic of nowadays, the mobile application development.

To help startup founders in busting these myths and go beyond, here is a list of mobile application development myths popular in the market.

1. Apps Are For Established Brands Only

The foremost myth that holds the startup founders back from entering the mobile market is that apps are meant for established brands only. If you too believe so, it’s time to look at the bigger picture.

Mobile apps have become an indispensable part of any industry. These are tools for both startups and established brands to cater to the needs of their target audience and gain higher revenue. Apps can be considered a weapon via which startups can outshine the competition and established themselves as the market leader.

It’s important to understand how the mobile industry works. Don’t wait to get popular before investing in mobile application development. Either hire an app developer or build it in-house and get ahead of your competition.

2. Mobile App Development Means Bringing Something New and Unique To The Market

Uniqueness in mobile apps - MyStartupLand

Startup founders, most of the time, focus on showing their creativity and introducing new and out-of-the-box ideas. Although in theory great, it is nearly impossible to be truly unique in the mobile apps space.

Between iOS and Google Play, there are about 5 million apps already uploaded and this number grows daily. Making the app concept unique and original can make the process complex, lengthy, and risky at the same time.

The best way to reap the benefits of mobile app development is to study the top trending app and revamp their ideas. Introducing new and better features, rather than dreaming of building a billion-dollar unicorn can be more profitable (look at the gaming industry). This will help you understand the market easily, travel a less thorny path, and drive higher downloads.

3. You Have To Build An App For Everyone

The new and inexperienced entrepreneurs think of developing a mobile app for all is the secret sauce for success. This is probably the biggest myth of all.

Everyone has a different set of desires, pain points, and expectations. It is practically impossible to come up with a mobility solution that appeals to everyone. The ideal way is to target a particular user base, study their market data, and develop a mobile application targeting them.

Like anything else in business, success comes with a laser-focus approach. Understanding your user base and their interests will be the first step towards building something people want. Focus on a specific type of user, rather than trying to build something for everyone. Nail a niche, then conquer the market.

4. Mobile App Development Requires A Ton of Money

Mobile App Development Costs - MyStartupLand

Creating an app for your business can be a costly affair. However, it does not need a ton of money. An app can be developed for anything between $25,000 and $150,000, depending on the app type, platform, features, tech stack, and other factors.

This cost can be cut down to nearly half by developing an MVP, or mini version of your app. This won’t be the final version, of course, but it can help you get to the market faster with your idea.

Cost shouldn’t stop you from investing in developing an app. There are several ways you can do it at a reasonable cost. Build a team to develop it in-house or contact the best mobile application development agency to discuss your app idea. If you are not familiar with app development, having an agency helping you out could make your life easier. However, have a clear idea of what you want and determine how much it might cost.

5. Business Apps Take Forever to Deploy and Launch

First-time entrepreneurs also believe that mobile app development for startups is an endless task. The main reason why this might happen is lack of planning and consideration of the right factors.

When it comes to designing an app for your startup, you need to focus on key features and working with the so-called “Agile Methodology“. This way of working leaves room for modification in the existing app development plan as per the changing market trends and business needs.

6. App Marketing is Expensive

Startup founders believe that app marketing is way out of their budget. Too many activities and platforms to follow in a very crowded marketplace can lead you to think in the wrong way.

There are, however, simple and free app marketing tactics to help you build your user base, such as ASO marketing, Social Media, Referral Marketing, etc. Acquiring a wider audience doesn’t necessarily require big budgets, especially in the first phase of your app startup. Before starting to invest, consider well what works and what doesn’t, based on your audience and their preferences. Don’t waste money at the very beginning, unless you have a proven concept.

 

Mobile app development is far from being an easy task for startups. However, it’s not rocket science either. Remember not to panic and to strategically think about your market and audience.

Understand your business needs, customer expectations, and consult with a mobile app development company, if needed. Your future depends on the success of your app, take every needed step to create a sustainable business.

 

What’s your experience with mobile app development? How did you take your idea off the ground with your app startup? Share your thoughts and experience in the comment section below.

Founders Interview: Massera Elsheikh – AGT Group Founder

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AGT Group - MyStartupLand

When Massera graduated with a BEng in Chemical Engineering in 2015, she was not looking forward to the conventional career in Engineering. She always had ambitions of starting her own business with the hope of solving problems in her community. Starting with the idea of launching a farming project in her family’s country of origin, Sudan, she began seeking out ways to build the skills & resources she would require to make her dream a reality. This was the beginning of her entrepreneurial journey.

In Kenya for 3 months in 2016 with the ICS Entrepreneur Programme, she learned about the lean start-up methodology. She also started building her network by attending events and e-meetings and sharing her ideas. It was through this experience of attending e-meetings that she realized the power of finding the right people to help you achieve your goals. She decided to help people learn from her own experiences while continuing to pursue her dream and founded AGT (Achieving Goals Together) to help others achieve their goals.

Massera and her co-founder Josiah, have managed to grow the community around their startup. In 2018, they organized the first event and a new initiative to keep young professionals and entrepreneurs more focused.

In this exclusive interview with MyStartupLand, we walk through her experience as a startup founder, as well as understanding some key learnings for herself as well as other fellow entrepreneurs around the globe.

1. Massera, let’s get started with a common one in the startup world. What’s the Elevator Pitch for AGT Group? 

AGT Group is a community organization for young professionals and entrepreneurs. AGT stands for Achieving Goals Together. We leverage our network to offer support, guidance, and resources to our members and enable them to achieve their goals.

2. How did you come up with the idea for AGT Group?

AGT Group started as a group of ambitious university friends trying to support each other in the pursuit of our goals in the post-graduation period. It was actually my co-founder, Josiah, who suggested we have monthly e-meetings. It proved to be very effective for us and we thought we could help others in the same way while expanding our community and leveraging our collective networks.

3. What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

This is a simple one! I wanted to help people with my knowledge and skills.

AGT Group - MyStartupLand

4. Startup founders go through a lot of ups and downs, what keeps you motivated and focused on the target? How do you manage to keep that motivation up within your team?

What keeps me focused is my initial vision. I have learned to take inspiration from little and big things happening around me. For example, hearing about success stories of our members or celebrating milestones and the satisfaction of overcoming obstacles, all these keep me motivated. I have found that consistent effort, constant communication and keeping myself motivated first are the best ways to keep those around me motivated as well. I think it’s important that team members have a similar attitude, however, understanding the people around you and knowing how to communicate with them also goes a long way.

5. Mentors and advisors are important figures, especially for young startup founders. However, finding the right help can be challenging. Can you walk us through how you managed to find the right support? If you could summarize in 3 keywords the key qualities you looked in an advisor or mentor, what would these be?

Finding a mentor is beneficial because you gain the insights of someone with experience and the right mentor won’t suffocate you with a “know-it-all” approach. What I found instead was AGT, a group of people with different skills and experiences that together helped guide me through this journey. There are organizations that help match you with mentors however in the absence of one I advise people to look for community organizations, you are going to find what you are looking for. 

I would say the 3 key qualities to look for in an advisor or mentor are:

  • Communication – An effective communicator, who “speak your language”
  • Skills / Experience – Transferable or industry-specific skills 
  • Network – Someone who can make meaningful introductions

6. The best advice you have got so far?

Learn to outsource and delegate.

7. Stress is a natural companion in the journey to success. Can you suggest to other startup founders, who might be going through some rough waters, what’s the best way, in your opinion, to deal with it?

Learn to detach and learn to sweat it out.

8. How did the startup life change you? [compared to the time before your startup journey]

It taught me that results aren’t always immediate and not to give up because consistency pays. It also taught me the power of self-confidence.

9. When running a startup, there are several components that become priorities: product, team, culture, funding, and so on… what’s your top priority when running AGT Group and why?

Product (or in our case, service). This is my priority. I believe that the service we offer is invaluable as we work closely with our members to make sure we understand their needs and guide them to bring them closer to achieving their goals. Everything else has to revolve around that because when trying to find new team members or “clients” or even funding if the service doesn’t make sense no-one will invest time or money in it.

10. Did you raise venture capital? If yes, what would you suggest to other startup founders that are getting into VC funding? If not, are you going to look for funding and how would you go about it?

No, so far all projects and events have been self-funded by myself and my co-founder, Josiah Idowu. We’re not in a hurry to get funded. However, we have been documenting our processes and activities, building case studies, perfecting our pitch and essentially putting together a business plan in case we do decide we need it. 

11. How much influence did customers interviews have while building AGT Group?

They heavily influenced (and still do) everything we created. As we started building based on the feedback from our members, from just having e-meetings we went to hosting events and meetups. We started also collaborating with other brands to bring members services they might be interested in. Right now, we are developing also webinars, to bring tailored premium content.

12. How has AGT Group been perceived by the market so far? How does your current growth look like?

Admittedly, at times the market had difficulties to grasp what we offer. As we’ve spent more time developing our service and branding, however, it’s been easier to communicate who we are and what we do. Since developing a digital strategy, we have seen growth in social media engagement, website sign-ups, and new members overall.

13. What advice would you give to first-time startup founders?

Make sure you hold on to your idea firmly and believe in it wholeheartedly. There will be plenty of people trying to tear it apart, so you need to be strong. Try to surround yourself with people who will help build it up, either by adding to it or encouraging you! Also, be flexible, ideas should change.

AGT Group - MyStartupLand

14. In which country is your company based? How is the startup environment?  

AGT Group is based in London but we are accessible internationally and currently also have members in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. London currently feels like just the right place to be if you have an idea or startup. There’s plenty of comrades on the entrepreneur journey, talent to work with and opportunities to grow.

Why People Leave Startups

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Why People Leave Startups - MyStartupLand

Working for a startup is, by all means, an adventure. When I graduated and was looking for a job, I wasn’t even aware of what a startup was. What I knew, however, was that I wanted to keep learning new things and contribute fast to the company I was going to join. I had a few interviews with big companies, but nothing really fell into the right place. By chance, I scored an interview with a growing startup in Europe. The promise was matching my expectations. Lots of responsibilities from day one, new things to learn daily, and of course a young and fun environment.

This is now my 8th year in the startup world. I have changed 5 companies and launched also my own startup in between. It’s a love and hate relationship the one I have with the startup world. The more I hate it, the more I feel attracted to it. Every now and then, I look into the “grown-up world” and talk with decent sized companies, but they fail to excite me, so I revert back to this crazy world.

In 8 years, I have seen it all (hopefully) either first-hand or through friends. Hyper-growth and hyper-firing, no product or business strategy for months, a CEO using a fart spray (yes, that’s a thing) while employees were trying to make money for his company, bad or no communication between management and employees, evil managers… you get the idea. It’s a fun, fun world.

I live in Berlin, the so-called Silicon Allee. Although not as crazy as the San Francisco scene, Berlin is one of the biggest hubs in Europe for successful startups. In all those years, I went from being just one employee of many up to management roles. The startup companies I have worked for varied in size, from 40 up to 250 people.

There are certain patterns that repeat themselves across startup companies. Despite sometimes being obvious, some people are still surprised by the reasons why people leave startups.

It’s Not Me, It’s You… Really!

Break Up - MyStartupLand

In my “startup career”, I experienced different feelings about this world. There were times, I woke up and thought I wanted out of it. Go and work for a bigger company, or at least try to get hired. Live a simpler life. No crazy deadlines, no calls or emails to be answered at 11 PM.

Other times, I felt annoyed by the size of the startup I was working at because everything was becoming too big, slow and bureaucratic and wanted to jump into a smaller ship. Smaller team, fewer meetings, more time to do what matters.

Yes, I have a difficult relationship with the startup world. After all this time, though, I realized that I prefer the craziness to the boredom, the insecurity to the routine. The reality, however, is that when you work for a startup, you need to take extra care of your people. As a startup founder, you are in constant competition with other companies trying to steal your talented employees. Startup founders and CEOs need to realize that when employees leave startups, most of the time, the responsibility falls onto the startup itself, not the employee. Stop blaming the outside world, start looking inside.

Hiring The Wrong People

The startup world is not for everyone. It requires a different level of commitment compared to “standard” companies. Employees are expected to deliver fast results and sometimes go the extra-mile, despite not being rewarded for it.

When hiring for your startup, you need to understand who is in front of you and compare that with the current stage of your company. Is this person going to deliver on what you expect? Do you know what to expect from your employees at this point in time? Not everyone is made for the startup world and that’s fine. Startups are exciting, especially for employees coming from bigger companies, however, are they the right match?

In startups, most of the employees are expected to get their sh*t together, find solutions by themselves and deliver results. Most of the time, there are no set processes or the one in place are wrong.

TIP: Ask the right questions. The “Startup-stage-culture-fit” is a real thing. This is different from your company culture. Of course, you still need to understand whether this candidate fits your company culture, but that’s something else. Match the people you hire with your company stage.

Promoting The Wrong People

Another reality in the startup world is that most of the time, the management team is not really ready for the task. In startups, usually, employees who are great at their job get a chance to become a manager. However, being a good employee doesn’t automatically translate into being a good manager.

Promoting the wrong people in management roles will make people leave your startups. Managers are crucial, especially if your company is made of a young workforce. There’s a great book that touches on this point “The No Asshole Rule“.

Now, you might ask, if someone is not a good manager, does it mean that they are assholes? No, in theory, it shouldn’t be that way. However, 9 out of 10 (not scientifically proven, but first-hand lived), most bad managers are also a bunch of assholes, in a way or another.

As a startup founder, you need to make sure that you follow this rule consistently. The moment you get off track and promote someone, who doesn’t deserve it, people will notice and start thinking about leaving.

If you are in doubt, use the diagram below and you will have fewer problems.

The No-Asshole Rule - MyStartupLand

TIP: Aside not hiring or promoting assholes, makes sure to invest in your people. Management training led by external trainers can have a great impact on those who need it. Remember though that the training itself is not the end-point. You will need to follow up and make sure the learnings are applied.

TIP 2: If you are a startup founder or a CEO and also an asshole… well, I guess you skipped this paragraph.

Having Unrealistic Expectations

Expectations in startups are usually insane. However, there is a thin line between insane and unrealistic.

Insane expectations are when you want someone to deliver a report by the end of the day and it’s 5 PM. Or, you expect someone to fix something on a weekend. These are insane expectations, especially in “normal companies”. However, people who work in startups are usually OK with them and actually get excited with these requests.

For example, if my boss sends me an email at 10 PM, while I am chilling on the couch, and by the title of the email I have the feeling that it might be urgent, I usually read on and reply. The same thing happens in the morning when I wake up and check emails from work before I even get a coffee. Is it insane? Yes, but I am OK with it.

Unrealistic expectations, though, are when you expect a trainee to do any of the above, or when you want your people to deliver a project within a week, but not even with the double of the team, it would be possible. Even when you ask to reach certain numbers, but the product is failing your sales team is an unrealistic expectation (salesman rant!).

Having unrealistic expectations will drive away employees from your startup.

TIP: Set some boundaries. Understand which employee can go the extra mile repeatedly without suffering. Don’t expect people to go the extra mile every single time. If you have high expectations, make sure your company is supporting the people and that you hire the right candidates.

Fostering Talent Is Not A Substitute For A Decent Salary

Startup Low Salary - MyStartupLandA low salary is a subjective thing. Employees will have a different perspective on what they are worth. However, I have worked in companies where “We pay less because we give you the opportunity to grow and learn new things” was part of their internal selling point. Sadly, people fell for it.

Although it might be true that not all startups foster talent in the same way, giving your employees a possibility to learn and contribute more to the growth of the company is not a replacement for a decent salary. Yes, they are learning more, but it is for YOUR company, not theirs. Don’t forget that!

It is also true that some employees also think they deserve a higher salary because they have been a certain amount of time in your company. This is very wrong and this is on you! People should not get an increase in salary, or title promotion for that matter, just because it’s the year mark. Employees need to earn whatever they get, not feel entitled to it. Yes, it might be easy to give everyone a promotion and a salary increase after a year, but is that the example you want to set?

TIP: If employees leave because they think they deserve more, talk to them and understand what is driving their assumptions. If you don’t agree, point that out and create a plan. However, be aware that if in other departments, you have adopted different standards, then people will leave your startup.

TIP 2: Don’t even try to give virtual shares instead of a salary increase. Virtual shares are a joke, most of the time. It can be a nice bonus if the company succeeds but be realistic, that’s not something people can use to eat, employees will still need money.

Creating Insecurity Overall

Startups are not always for the long-term. Millions are born daily, millions die daily. Insecurity, however, is a state of mind you, as a startup founder or CEO, create by not having a proper plan or implementing the right communication strategy.

Insecurity comes from different things. Firing randomly people without explanation. Having a failing product and demanding results. Implementing company changes without communicating this correctly. Insecurity comes from a lack of communication.

Employees feel insecure because they think they might be the next one on the line or the company might go down. Being a startup CEO or founder is not an easy job. It becomes more complicated if you don’t share what’s happening. You can either take the steps yourself and come forward (that would be amazing) or delegate to your managers the task, regardless of which one you go for, communication is key.

TIP: Being busy is not an excuse to ignore issues or your people. Take the time to have an open forum of any size. Foster a culture where people feel OK to share feedback, even anonymously. There’s always room for improvement.

TIP TO EMPLOYEES: If you don’t like feeling insecure, don’t join a startup! If you feel insecure, but still love startup, speak up!

Ignoring Processes & Policies

This is probably a consequence of all points made above. Wrong people, wrong managers, bad CEOs, often ignore those little-established processes and policies. Don’t be that person!

Working in a startup, already implies that there are very little processes and policies. For employees, feeling that at least those are in place and followed is very important. When exceptions are made or policies apply only to the “low-class” employees, then people will leave your startup. It’s not that complicated. Follow the rules you have put in place.

TIP: Avoid those situations by being an example. If there are exceptions, for whatever reasons, then, once again, through clear communication you can make people feel better and more secure.

 

Working for a startup is a roller-coaster. Not everyone can do it. Some people go through it and then run away. Some others stay and enjoy the ride. Regardless of who your employees are, it’s important you understand, as a founder or CEO, that people will leave your startup eventually, can you make that journey easier?

You Have A Million-Dollar Idea, Now What?

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Million Dollars Idea - MyStartupLand

A large number of startups is infested with common mistakes of their founders. The journey to establishing your own business is far from an easy one. It will take a lot of hard work, time and effort. You need to make sure you won’t end up among the entrepreneurs that have failed. The key is in good preparation. Being prepared will enable you to turn your million dollars idea into a successful business.

We have made a step-by-step overview of what will make you a man with a plan in no time.

1. Do You Really Have A Golden Egg?

The first step is always a quick chat with yourself to make sure your idea is really that good that it could become a million-dollar business. Check if there are similar products or services already on the market. If there are, that means competition. Your products/services need to be a bit different. Most of the times this means less expensive and better quality.

You have a million dollars idea, now what - MyStartupLand

Conduct a competitors research and you will probably realize that your idea only needs some tweaking (new features) to stand out from the crowd. Following an existing or emerging trend is always a good way to go since it influences customer behavior. For that, you will need other’s opinion but keep your idea a secret during the development phase. There is always family and friends that can help you out. 

There are a few important questions you need to ask:

  • Are you able to comprehensibly describe the idea to others in an intriguing way?
  • Can you turn it into a short verbal description that will immediately capture the interest?
  • Will this illustration inspire others?

Even the best idea is nothing without the proper customer base and people who will bring it to life.

2. Going Deeper – The Business Plan

If you have achieved the highest score in our little quiz above then it’s time to start planning on paper. Writing a business plan will open up further questions. This time you will need to go deeper, to the very core.

The key question here is: What is the purpose of the business you want to establish? Answering this one will take some pondering about your customers, goals, and finances. If you rush through these points, you will end up without properly targeted customers, unaware if there’s really a demand for your idea and with no clear insight into who’s gonna buy your services or products.

In other words, a detailed business plan will demand from you to conduct a proper market research that will make sure you know where your new business is going and how you will be able to sustain it during the potential difficulties that will appear on the way.

3. Money Talks

Money talks - MyStartupLand

With all the questions posed it’s time to start answering them. In this modern world, money does all the talking. The first thing you should look into is your finances.

You are aware that every startup has a price and you need to have a plan how to cover those expenses. Do you already have the means or it’s borrowing time? The most crucial thing to determine is how much you’re gonna need. It’s always good to overestimate the startup capital amount so you won’t end up running out of money before turning a profit. After the proper assessment of your finances, you will be able to choose the best financing option in no time.

4. Acquire The Right Blueprint

We are not talking about the look and size of your future business headquarter, but about far more important structure, the legal one. You won’t be able to register your company before you decide what kind of entity it is. This will affect everything in the range from your personal liability, in case something goes wrong, to the way you file your taxes.

It’s a great responsibility and you should reconsider before rushing out to register your company as a sole proprietorship. Everybody wants to own their business entirely but you also should be aware that all obligations and debt will be your own responsibility which can affect your personal credit. 

There’s nothing wrong with finding a business partner with complementary skills and registering a partnership. The legal burden is always lighter if carried by more people. If your goal is to separate the liability of your company from your own you should look into the types of corporations. Ultimately you’ll decide on the right business structure based on your current needs and future business goals.

5. Create A Backup Plan

No, we’re not gonna talk about writing another business plan and there will be no more questions.  The foundation of this backup plan lies in your insurance policy. It is mandatory that you decide on the right insurance before the launch because lawsuits, theft, or property damage are common and quite costly parts of every business.

Business owner’s policy or general liability insurance is almost mandatory for every small business. On top of that, your employees will require their employment insurance and worker’s compensation. 

All it takes to complete this backup plan is to admit to yourself that you probably won’t be able to perform an overwhelming task of running a business alone. That way you will be open to third-party vendors from the beginning and these companies exist to help you run your business smoother. Since this is also a form of partnering up you need to be aware that they will have access to the potentially sensitive and vital data of your business. Keep a close eye on them.

6. Gather Up Your Workforce

Gather up your workforce - MyStartupLand

Now that you have realized that you can’t do everything alone, you are also aware that being the only employee is far from a good option. To get your company off the ground, you are going to need a great team. 

Your employees need to have the same attention as your products or services since they are the ones who will build them. Not only that, you will need to hire your employees carefully but you will also need to define responsibilities and roles with the same precision. Artists and engineers are not the only ones who will bring your idea to life, you will also need legal professionals. You have seen some of the legal requirements above and that’s only a drop in the ocean.

Most likely you won’t be able to hire a bunch of lawyers right away. You must look for employees, who have a wider business knowledge that goes beyond legal expertise.  The one that should come together with employees is definitely a personal injury claim lawyer who will make them feel secure with their rights adequately protected. The lawyer won’t just provide employees with legal advice but she would also be your powerful advisor when it comes to workforce organization.  She could be quite helpful in the very process of hiring new employees as well. 

And Now – Bloom!

Starting your business is like creating a garden. Your idea is the seed and the first thing you need to ask yourself is will anyone need its fruits. Before you bury it deep into the ground you need to know how much space and time will it require to bloom. Your team is your water and sunlight and the right digital advertising campaign will keep these business weather conditions steady and suitable for many harvests.

5 Key Product Placement Mistakes That Businesses Make

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Product Placement Mistakes - MyStartupLand

In restaurants, chefs go to a lot of trouble to make their product (your meal) look amazing. That’s because the saying is true. You eat with your eyes first. Believe it or not, the same concept applies to your product. If it isn’t displayed in the most flattering ways possible, it becomes less appealing. So many things impact the look of your products. The materials you choose, the color schemes you pick, and your packaging are just a few elements that really matter.

One thing that is often overlooked is the importance of product placement. That is, how and where the product is displayed when potential customers may encounter it.

This includes:

  • Positioning And Presentation on Store Shelves
  • How the Product is Displayed in Online Advertisements And Landing Pages
  • Strategic Placement in Film Video or Television Spots
  • How the Product is Displayed on Product Pages

In order to ensure that your product is properly displayed in a way that enhances its visual appeal and stays true to your branding, you have to be vigilant.

You can start by avoiding these five product placement mistakes.

1. Failing To Retain Control Over In-Store Merchandising

Take a walk through your grocery store and you’ll notice that the name brand and higher end items are prominently displayed at eye level. The shelves they are on are usually impeccably organized. Labels are facing frontward. This is because the companies that make these products retain control over how they are displayed.

Your product isn’t going to look its best when it’s tossed on a bottom shelf, or not displayed in a way that makes it highly visible and appealing. When you place your products in stores, establish some ground rules for merchandising. Make sure those rules are followed.

2. Failing To Create Buzz When Your Product Is Featured

You’ve done something big. Your product is going to get on screen time on a television show. You’ve leased a huge billboard in the middle of the town where your flagship product is going to be displayed. Maybe you’ve sponsored a local theater group, and they’ve graciously offered to use your product on set as one of their props. Whatever the case may be, your product is going to be prominently displayed to a relatively large number of people.

So, here’s the bad news. Nobody is going to care unless you make them care. As Amanda Sparks, marketer and author of TopDownWriter blog, emphasizes: “Products flash by our eyes hundreds of times each day. Getting your product in the sights of a large audience is only the first step. You have to create a buzz. This means promoting the event on social media, engaging with anyone else involved, creating press releases and other business copy, and otherwise generating conversation and enthusiasm.”

3. Cutting Costs When It Comes To Image Quality And Production Value

According to a white paper published by Bright North, customers are three times more likely to convert when they are presented with high-quality images. If the quality and production value of your product images do not match or better your competitors’, you are essentially driving people away from your business and towards theirs.

Whether it’s print images, product pictures on your website, images in supported posts, or videos production, value and optimization are both keys. This is not an area where effort or expense should be spared. Instead, great care should be taken to ensure images are of the highest quality possible.

“I’ve seen many websites and online stores that tried to save money using poor quality pictures from free image hosting services or shot by themselves. The results were always the same – low user engagement, higher bounce rate, and less income at the end of the month,” shares James Daily, professional content manager and author at Brainished blog.

4. Using A Vehicle For Placement That Is A Bad Fit For Your Brand

When Elliot used Reese’s Pieces to lure ET, sales of the candy skyrocketed. The same thing happened to toys like the Mr. Potato Head and Etch-a-Sketch when they were portrayed in the Toy Story movie franchise. This kind of product placement, however, isn’t a guaranteed home run.

Take Home Alone 2 as an example. American Airlines had its planes and brand prominently featured in the movie. Unfortunately, the trade-off is that the characters portraying American Airlines staff were astoundingly (albeit hilariously) inept. That’s not exactly flattering to a company that wants to be known for reliability.

Before making a product placement deal. Keep a few things in mind.

  • Is the content something your audience will appreciate?
  • Is there a risk of offending your target audience?
  • Are you certain the portrayal of your product will be flattering?

5. Not Emphasizing Your Product Benefits

“100% of Your Recommended Daily Vitamin C!”. “Less Sugar Than Other Leading Brands”. “A Trim Toned Waist in 30 Days!”. These are just a few examples of things you might see on product packaging. Remember that the customer-facing side of your product is your canvas. If you don’t use it to draw attention to the benefits of your products, you’re missing out on an important opportunity.

Packaging is important. It should have appealing images such as smiling children, quality pictures of your product and logo, and eye-catching information about what’s inside.

But the text is also something you can’t neglect. “Customers are a lot savvier nowadays. They read descriptions thoroughly and want to be sure they buy quality products. But on the other hand, they are overwhelmed with information. So your job is to write the description that would catch customers’ attention as well as provide all the data they need in an easy-to-read manner”, Jessica Fender, the chief content officer at OnlineWritersRating, reveals.

Conclusion On Product Placement Mistakes

No matter where your product appears, it is imperative that you ensure it is presented in the best way possible. This means maintaining control over its placement in stores, having high standards of image quality, and making the right decisions when it comes to packaging and product placement. Avoid the mistakes above to ensure that your products remain reputable and desirable.

 

Do you have any experience with product placement? Have you encountered any of the difficulties highlighted in the article above? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Top SEO Mistakes In 2018 For Your Company Blog

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Top Seo Mistakes in 2018 - MyStartupLand

Many startups nowadays rely on a company blog to attract, engage and retain potential leads. A company blog for a product or service startup is another way to present achievements and development, without pitching directly potential clients. Although it increases also the branding aspect of a startup, many ignore some basic principles. Here below we take a look at the top SEO mistakes startups make in 2018 with their company blog.

But Before That… Is SEO Still Relevant? 

In the digital world, SEO is still one of the best ways to gain organic traffic. However, SEO is a long-term strategy. Results don’t come overnight, especially if the blog is not the core of your business.

Startups seeking to increase organic traffic through SEO activities might need to start looking into a dedicated person to take over digital marketing activities. As with any other activity that yields results organically, it takes dedication and time.

Top Seo Mistakes In 2018

SEO is an evolving topic. Google ranking algorithm gets updated constantly and while you might think that you know enough about it, there’s a constant need to be up-to-date. On top of that, Google, even though the main one, is not the only search engine you should be looking into.

Bing, Yahoo, although not the 1st choice for many, can result in a good amount of inbound traffic for your company website. It’s also important to consider the region your startup operates into as your SEO strategy might vary.

Search Engine Market Share Worldwide - MyStartupLand

Ignoring Analytics Data

In the last 20 years, marketing has become more data-focused. Marketers who don’t look at analytics data are failing at optimizing for the right actions. Taking a look at data though is not something uniquely related to SEO, but rather to the whole digital marketing space.

Startup founders, even if not marketing experts, can learn a lot from tools like Google Analytics, KISSmetrics or Moz. The last one has a paid version, but we believe also the free version is good enough for actionable learnings.

Using these tools has several advantages. You can understand:

  • Which keywords bring traffic to your website
  • Which channels work best when engaging with your audience
  • Which websites are linking back to your content
  • Where competitors are sharing their content and who is linking to them
  • How potential clients interact on your website
  • Where is the exit point for potential leads

TIP: Google provides a tool called “Google Search Console“, which shows for which keywords your website is ranking. To access it go to Google Webmaster Tool, click on “Traffic” and then “Search Queries“.

Thinking That A Keyword Strategy Is Not Needed

SEO is constantly evolving. What was relevant a few years back, it is not today.

Focusing on the right keywords and understand which ones to focus on became crucial lately. Repeating, however, the same keywords over and over again in a post doesn’t have a good effect anymore for your SEO strategy.

Google and other search engines have become aware of what is called “keywords stuffing“. If the algorithm thinks you are trying to trick the system, it might penalize your website.

A keyword strategy is something to think about when planning your company blog. After understanding the analytics data, you should be able to identify the keywords you want to focus on and then strategize on how to implement these.

TIP: Avoid using general keywords or those that are too broad. It’s going to be very hard to rank for these. if you focus on keywords that don’t target your desired users, you are wasting your SEO efforts. Lastly, try identifying long-tail keywords rather than high-competing ones.

Writing Low-Quality & Duplicate Content

An important step in building a strong company blog that can help you attract and retain leads is to write good quality content. Startup founders, however, don’t often see the value in writing in-depth articles. This requires time and especially in early-stage startups, time is never enough.

Keeping an eye on the content you or your team produce is crucial. Writing low-quality content, with no value for the readers will affect your ranking in search engines. The easiest way to control this is by looking at the bounce rate of specific pages on your blog. Bounce rate is something that you will need to work on. It doesn’t improve overnight and it requires a lot of work.

Another important factor to consider when talking about a company blog is duplicate content. Raven found out that duplicate content still represents a third of what’s published on the Internet.

Duplicate Content Raven - MyStartupLand

There have been a lot of theories on how Google and other search engines consider duplicate content. Generally speaking, your website should not get penalized for it. However, your page might not rank well. Google, for example, analyzes similar content and ranks first what it thinks to be the original post.

In the last few years, however, it has become normal to post content on several platforms to amplify the reach. For example, today, LinkedIn and Medium offer a way for bloggers, marketers, and founders to reach new users through their platform.

The main issue is that these two platforms have a domain authority that is much higher than yours, hence potentially ranking better on Google. A way to avoid that search engines don’t recognize your website as the original source is to wait 1 or 2 weeks to repost the content. On top of that, we suggest making small changes in the title and content itself.

TIP: Content marketing is the main way to grow your company blog. It is crucial to understand though that content requires time. Low-quality and duplicate content won’t help you achieve any results. Having a good content strategy will get you the results you need. Focus on the type of content that your readers like.

Disregarding The User Experience

Times have changed. Users nowadays access most of the content through their smartphone. Google in the last couple of years has been putting a lot of pressure on websites’ speed and UX. AMP (or Accelerated Mobile Page) has taken the spotlight lately. Although Google has made clear that AMP by itself will not affect your website ranking, they have stated that page speed will become a factor in mobile ranking.

So, is it worth to think about it? Of course, it is!

Let’s put aside for a moment SEO and ranking topics. In the first half of 2018, we have seen that the share of mobile traffic has crossed the 50% mark. The trend is increasing.

Share Of Mobile Traffic - MyStartupLand
Statista 2018

Although it might not have a direct impact on your ranking per se, it has an effect on the user experience. Today users can access news from anywhere, delays are not accepted. If potential leads land on your blog and the user experience is bad, they will not read your content, nor buy anything.

Recommendation: Check Pingdom for a website speed test.

Another important factor, when it comes to user experience is safety. Google has already implemented a way to recognize websites that don’t have an SSL certificate. In some instances, your website might lose traffic, because Google blocks access to it.

SSL Certificate - MyStartupLand

If you haven’t already, we highly recommend getting an SSL certificate. Usually, your web host provider should have an option for that.

Thinking All Links Are Created Equally

External and internal linking is an important way to increase the authority of the blog posts you write. However, it’s important to keep mind where and how you link.

First of all, internal linking helps users find more information about a topic on your company blog. It’s important to make sure that anything you link within your website is relevant to the topic you are talking about. Don’t focus on the number of internal links, but rather the quality. Always think about your users.

If you would be an external reader on your blog and clicked on that internal link landing on something unrelated to the initial topic, how would you feel? Yes, exactly. So, don’t do it.

External linking is also a very good practice especially when done correctly. If you link to high authority websites, your post quality increases. Sometimes, however, we might allow 3rd parties to do guest blogging on our website. This means that the outbound links will direct to the guest author’s website, most likely. It’s a good practice to check the quality of the websites you are linking to.

One last thing about linking and guest blogging. The rule for guest authors on your blog applies also to you when writing on other blogs and place a link back to your website. What type of website are you posting on? Is the blog related to yours?

TIP: Creating a “net” of links within your blog it’s a good practice to increase relevancy to the topic you are writing about. Internal linking can improve the stickiness of users, but if done wrongly can increase the bounce rate. The same applies to external links. Be careful.

Final Thoughts On SEO & Mistakes To Avoid

Search Engine Optimization is an essential part of digital marketing. As a startup founder, you don’t need to understand the ins and outs of it. However, it’s good practice to get at least the basics of how it works. SEO will help your company blog and business attract more relevant leads. Remember, you can fix mistakes done in the past by following these steps:

  1. Build a clear strategy around which keywords to focus on
  2. Write good quality content frequently
  3. Forget about shortcuts – There are no shortcuts in SEO
  4. Keep reading and learning about the changes and updates (Moz Blog)
  5. Be patient

If you have a website, SEO plays an important role and cannot be ignored. Take your time to get familiar with it and eventually you will see results.

 

What SEO strategy do you implement on a daily basis? Do you have a dedicated person who follows digital marketing or SEO? Share with us your experience in the comment section below.

How to Remain Productive While Traveling and Working Remotely

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Traveling And Working Remotely - MyStartupLand

Freelancing is one of the fastest-growing means of earning a living in the United States. A 2017 survey conducted by Upwork and Freelancers Union suggests that there are now more than 57 million people making a living as freelancers. That accounts for about 36% of the American workforce.

There are a lot of things to love about freelancing, among them being the ability to work and travel simultaneously. Freelancers involved in sectors that primarily utilize computers and the internet to get things done are ideal candidates for this sort of life. For example, a freelance writer with a laptop and an internet connection can work from anywhere in the world.

The one downside to simultaneously traveling and working is the difficulty of staying focused enough to remain productive. Travel entails a lot of distractions that can easily steal a freelancer time. The good news is that freelancers don’t have to be controlled by those distractions. With the right strategies in place, they can remain productive while simultaneously traveling and working remotely.

7 Strategies for Maintaining Productivity While Traveling and Working Remotely

If you’re going to travel and work remotely at the same time, you need to have a plan in place. That plan should include a number of strategies that will keep you from being distracted when you’re supposed to be working. Seven such strategies are listed below. Remember an old adage as you read them: failing to plan is planning to fail.

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1. Establish a Base of Operations

Avoiding distraction is a matter of setting boundaries. As such, one of the first things to do is establish a base of operations. Whether you’re working remotely overseas or just in the next state over, a base of operations is a workspace separate from the rest of your environment. It gives you a place to go where you can concentrate on work.

2. Establish Defined Work Hours

Your decision to work remotely and travel should not translate into less time spent working unless you’re capable of still generating the level of income you need to pay your bills. To avoid working fewer hours than you should, clearly define the number of hours you need to work in a given week in order to meet your obligations and generate sufficient revenue. Then stick to those defined hours.

3. Invest in Technology

Freelancers who know how to work remotely while continually keeping clients happy also know enough to invest in technology. It’s worth spending extra on a good laptop, a good smartphone, and the software necessary to do what you do. Also, make sure you are connected to the right platforms including Skype, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. They are your lifeline to communicating with current and future clients.

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4. Establish Multiple Payment Options

One of the most difficult aspects of freelancing, especially when you’re working remotely overseas, is ensuring you get paid in a timely manner. You can help your cause considerably by establishing multiple payment options your clients can choose from. Payment services like PayPal and Google Pay are good options. You can also work with clients to arrange for electronic fund transfers (EFTs) directly to your bank account.

5. Make Use of Goals and Milestones

With every new project you take on, establish a series of goals and milestones that will act as a guide to get you from start to finish. Goals and milestones will keep you on track even when the allure of your remote location is tempting you to ditch work in favor of play. If you attach payments to your milestones, you’ll have even more incentive to stay productive.

6. Keep Your Ideas in One Place

Many freelancers are pursuing a self-driven creative career. Ideas, pictures, videos, articles for inspiration are some things that come out of your journey. It is best that you try to be more organized by keeping those inspirations and brilliant ideas in a single place with any productivity apps and add-ons of your choice. Choose an app that syncs data in your storage on multiple devices. This tip can help you stay creative and productive.

Traveling And Working Remotely - MyStartupLand

7. Use Layovers to Your Advantage

Rather than trying to have a back-to-back connection of each flight through your journey, try to embrace some time gap in the layovers instead. If another flight departs immediately as you arrive, you might think you’ve shortened the time spent between flights, but you’re more likely to get into a big mess.

It’s recommended that you give yourself a good 50-60 minutes following each segment of your flight. You’ll see that you’ll not only give yourself time in case of delays, but you will provide yourself with a good amount of time to ‘focus’ on work. You’re not going to complete your work at one sitting, but 50-60 minute sessions might be sufficient to actually focus and get some tasks done.

The Best Warm Places to Live and Work

Freelancers who work remotely and travel at the same time have a tendency to seek out the warm weather. As long as you’re going to travel, you might just as well travel to places with whether favorable enough to allow you to enjoy getting out and doing things on your off time. To that end, aside from these top and well-known cities to work remotely, here’s a list of some of the best warm places to live and work:

Warm Places To Work - MyStartupLand

Koh Samui, Thailand

Koh Samui is the second largest island in Thailand, Chumphon Archipelago. It is located off the east coast of the Kra Isthmus in southern Thailand. Koh Samui boasts plenty of sunshine, pristine beaches, and ocean breezes. It is ideal for freelancers because it is a very budget friendly island with plenty of accommodations at multiple levels.

Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain

The Canary Islands are known for their stunning beaches and warm climate. Las Palmas is the capital of Gran Canaria island and the fifth-largest Spanish city by population. Though it can be difficult to find English speakers in Las Palmas, freelancers can get by with a Spanish dictionary and a few introductory phrases. You’ll need a good data plan as free wi-fi can be sketchy.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur is Malaysia’s official capital, so you know it is a modern city with all of the amenities you need to be productive. It also features a tropical climate. It offers plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures throughout the year, though the summer months include daily rainstorms.

Tampa, Florida

The lone U.S. city on our list is Tampa, Florida. Tampa sits on the Gulf of Mexico and is one of the most up-and-coming cities in the country. There is a lot to love about living and working here, including excellent nightlife and an abundance of outdoor activities. Also, note that Florida has no state income tax. Even if you stay more than three months, you’ll only be paying federal taxes on your income.

 

You now know a little bit more about how to work remotely without losing productivity to your desire to travel. If you are a freelancer capable of working anywhere you can find an internet connection, you might consider doing some traveling while you develop your career. Simultaneously traveling and working is a great way to see the world while you’re earning a good living as a freelancer.

Do you work and travel at the same time? Any tips you would like to add to our list? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

10 Must-Have Apps For Startup Founders

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must-have apps for startup founders - MyStartupLand

Startup founders live a busy life. Meetings after meetings, flights after flights. It can get messy at time, considering the amount of work they face on a daily basis. Especially for first-time entrepreneurs, the startup life can be very challenging. 24/7 thinking about their business, with tons of ideas and challenges to tackle. Sometimes sleeping, lack of exercise or, even worse, stress can become major issues. For these reasons, we decided to take a look at 10 must-have apps for startup founders, with the hope to help startup founders be more productive and efficient.

Communication Must-Have Apps For Startup Founders

Communication is key in any type of professional environment. For startup founders, however, this is crucial to success. Communicating with teams, investors or simply the outside world in an organized (and non-expensive) way becomes very important, especially in early-stage startups.

Slack

This is a must-have app and has replaced in many instances emails or its direct rival, Skype. It allows increasing internal communication efficiently and is available on both desktop and mobile. On top of being very useful for internal communication, Slack is awesome also for external networking. There are over 1000 groups you can join for free or for a fee. Depending on how much you want to be involved also when you are “offline”, the mobile app can be a great way not to lose contact with anyone.

Zoom

Zoom has managed to become the point of reference when it comes to video conferences in many businesses. Based on our experience, it is way more stable in terms of connection and quality than Skype. If you are doing a product demonstration, you can also record the video session to keep it for future reference. Lastly, if you are willing to pay an extra, there are possibilities to have group video calls (note that without a subscription, there’s a limit in the time you can have group video conference calls). There is a desktop as well as a mobile version.

Productivity Must-Have Apps For Startup Founders

Being the leader of a company is not an easy task and sometimes can be overwhelming when it comes to the amount of work and tasks one needs to take care of. Being productive (and efficient), it’s crucial to make sure startup founders don’t drown in a sea of requests.

Remember The Milk

This is a smart-to-do app for busy people. Although there are quite a few apps in this space, this app helps startup founders and busy professionals categorize, prioritize and schedule tasks and get reminders pretty much to any device connected with the account. The app is available on desktop, smartphone and also iWatch.

Edo Agenda

This is another intuitive digital agenda, available on both desktop and mobile. With its great design, the app allows startup founders (but also freelancers) to free up space during the day and focus on what matters the most.

News Must-Have Apps For Startup Founders

For startup founders, it’s very important to be up-to-date with everything happening around them. Nowadays, however, we are overwhelmed with information and it is easy to miss out on important news.

Pocket

This is, without any doubt, the app for busy people. We get information from Twitter, Facebook, and other news apps. We see something interesting, but we don’t have time to read it at that moment. Pocket helps busy people “save it for later” across multiple devices. The app is great also for collecting interesting articles found over the Internet.

Nuzzel

This app is quite interesting to discover a different type of news, let’s say. It creates a personalized feed based on what your friends and friends of friends are reading. If your network is interesting and shares relevant article, you might discover things you wouldn’t otherwise. In the opposite case, you might want to reconsider your network.

Meditation & Sports Must-Have Apps For Startup Founders

Busy times call for stress and lack of exercise. Startup founders and business professionals live busy and stressful lives. So much that sometimes it is difficult to just take a break and clear the mind from the daily stuff.

Headspace

This meditation app helps everyone with a busy life take a few minutes per day to disconnect from the work and reconnect with the inner-self. The great thing about the app is that it teaches you how to meditate, which has long-term effects on your physical and mental wellbeing.

7 Minutes Workout

Doing sports is one of those things that not everyone is good at (regardless of whether you are a startup founder or not). You are either extremely committed and constant or you will miserably fail. This app takes into consideration the fact that most business professionals live a busy life and don’t always have time to go to the gym. It has been developed thinking about the “High-Intensity Circuit Training” (HICT). 12 exercises, 30 seconds for each exercise, 10 seconds break. Who doesn’t have 7 minutes free per day?

Miscellaneous Must-Have Apps For Startup Founders

The last two apps that we want to take in consideration don’t really fit any specific category, but we think are still important for people with limited amount of time and loads of tasks to do on a daily basis.

Audible

With less time available, startup founders have also less time to relax and read. Audible offers the possibility to listen to audiobooks on the go. It is a great option for busy professionals and entrepreneurs to have access to interesting content even if they cannot stop to read paper books.

Crowdfire

This is both a desktop and mobile app. It is extremely useful to connect all different social accounts (personal and business) and manage contacts as well as content sharing. In the app, startup founders can select topics of interest and get a personalised view of the most relevant news. The great thing is that you can then share the content you want directly on your social media accounts.

 

Startup founders don’t have an easy life There are so many things to control and be on top of that a need for help is required. These 10 must-have apps summarise what we think can bring the best to the hectic entrepreneurial life.

 

Do you have any other app that you would like to suggest? Tell us more in the comment section below.

The Ultimate Guide On How To Choose The Right Startup Accelerator

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Choose The Right Startup Accelerator - MyStartupLand

Startup accelerators are a great way for your startup to gain traction, get capital and access clients. With more than 1000 startup accelerators to choose from, it’s important that you don’t just “spread and pray” your applications. You need to look into what really matters for your startup growth.

If you choose the right accelerator for your startup, there will be incremental growth over time and your business will benefit exponentially. Due to the high number of options in the market (industry-specific, corporate, equity-free, etc…) you need to evaluate correctly what is available. Too many founders have been burnt by the wrong decisions, missing on their startup dream, and you don’t want to join that crowd.

1. To Accelerate or Not To Accelerate

This is the first real question that you have to ask yourself. Why are you looking into the startup accelerator option? There can be several reasons, but you need to know what really matters to you. Understanding the underlying reasons for why joining a startup accelerator can be useful for the success of your company will define ultimately how you choose the right option for your startup.

Key questions to ask yourself are:

  1. Am I looking for money alone? If yes, are there alternatives? 
  2. Can the startup accelerator give me access to additional VCs or increase my investors’ network?
  3. Will I get introductions to potential customers?
  4. How does the current startup community around that specific accelerator currently interact with each other and with the startup accelerator?

Start with these questions to define priorities.

2. A Startup Accelerator Is a Partner for Life

When thinking about choosing a startup accelerator you need to realize that this is a long-term partnership. What does this actually mean?

There’s a lot of research that goes into identifying and choosing the right startup accelerator for your startup. Probably the most important bit is to understand who you might end up doing business with.

Have you thought about interviewing the people behind the accelerators? Do the accelerator partners have relevant experience as entrepreneurs? 

Remember that once you join a startup accelerator, you will be in the program for 3 to 6 months. The reality, however, is that the accelerator partners will be involved in every future step of your startup. Evaluate how they plan to make you spend your valuable time and what their values are. When I ran my own startup, the accelerator had actually a deceleration effect on my company growth due to the several ineffective seminars I was forced to attend.

Startup accelerators are investors by all means and they will have a voice in every important decision you will take in the first period.

3. Location, Location, Location

An old saying that is very true for the retailing industry, but also for startup accelerators. Don’t select startup accelerators based on the fact that they are in your backyard. Make a list of potential startup accelerators based on your real needs.

With the same logic, you need to consider the location of the startup accelerator you might be choosing as it might be limiting. At the time when I chose with my co-founder to join a program, we looked at one specific aspect, money (dumb move). That decision translated into our company to be set up in a growing market, but that didn’t fit our primary need for growth.

4. It’s All About Fit

Depending on your startup there are several points you need to consider when looking at fit.

Are you looking for a startup accelerator that is focused on the industry you are trying to tackle? Or perhaps do you need a program for startups that are not in a pre-seed stage? It’s crucial for you to think about those variable as these will affect the way the program is structured as well as the value you can gain out of it.

In order to understand how the accelerator’s values and activities are related to where your startup is, you need to do some real digging. Research among the alumni becomes very important to evaluate each statement the accelerator is making on their website. It’s crucial to evaluate also the level of mentors they attract (consider their background and the variety of mentors available).

Startup Growth - MyStartupLand

5. Mentors That Matter

Due to a high number of startup accelerators available worldwide, it is inevitable that some will not be at the level they claim to be. As a rule of thumb, if an accelerator showcases an incredibly high number of mentors on their website, you might want to ask yourself, as well as to them, how frequent are the interactions with these people. Do they attend all the mentorship sessions or is it just a showcase of faces? 

You will also want to keep an open mind when assessing the different mentors you interact with. It might be that a mentor you didn’t think as valuable, could actually be useful in taking some key decision for your startup growth. Failing at choosing the right mentor can also lead to a deceleration of your startup during the startup accelerator program.

6. Money Is Important, But Not Everything

When looking at joining a startup accelerator, you might consider the investment terms as a deciding factor. Unless you have access to one of the top startup accelerators, you might realize that smart money is something that doesn’t really exist in the accelerator world. 

There are some top accelerators that offer equity-free/no-money programs, which at first might not seem like a good deal, but offer some great perks and services that could help in a better way your startup.

7. Survival Screams Success

Although not all startup accelerators can brag about successful exits, it is crucial for you to check the survival (or failure) rate. Yes, it’s important that you check how many startups are still alive, as well as how they are doing.

The survival rate is not only defined by how many businesses are still active but also by how well active startup are doing. Was there any follow-up investment? Did the number of employees grow since they “graduated”? All these extra questions will help you get a full picture of the program potential.

 

As a startup founder, you need to start from the assumption that to build your business, you don’t need to join an accelerator. These programs are not for everyone and you really need to understand whether this is the right step for you. Be focused, do your homework and try to understand if that program is the right partner for life.

Have you joined a startup accelerator to grow your startup? How was your experience? Share your experience in the comment section below.

Killer Digital Advertising Trends in 2018

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Digital advertising through social media and Internet use was the leading marketing trend in 2017. Last year, digital advertising sales reached $209 billion worldwide (41% of the market) and surpassed $178 billion in television advertising (35% of the market). The impact of these changes created many opportunities, and challenges, for brands and businesses. Many discovered that internet marketing makes it possible to break ahead of their competitors.

Here are some digital advertising trends that will impact businesses globally in 2018.

Google And Facebook Combination

In 2017, Google and Facebook dominated the digital advertising industry and accounted for more than 60% of global online ad revenues. They comprised an estimated 25% of global ad spend. According to Statista, Google’s revenue last year amounted to $109.65 billion; Facebook’s total revenues, instead, were $40.7 billion.

These two companies already draw more than half of the online ad revenue worldwide.

Digital Advertising Trend - MyStartupLand
https://www.statista.com/

What’s The Opportunity For Startups? 

Enhancing your business through cross-channel marketing to get more customers and revenue is the best bet. Consider using search engine optimization (SEO) alongside your social media campaigns. These advertising methods result in greater profit per conversion. Some reasons are:

  • SEO is a process that affects your online visibility. By creating better search engine results on Google, Yahoo and Bing you “pull” customers through their inquiries and searches.
  • Social media also has a unique ability to “push” your message to desired, targeted audiences.

Online marketing (using both of these approaches) allows many companies to dominate the digital world. If you’re a local business or startup planning to improve your website, you can hire a local SEO firm that provides both search engine optimization and social media marketing services to make your life easier.

Website Design And Optimization

Website optimization and design are both important factors in the overall online marketing performance of your business. According to the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, 75% of people judge the credibility of a business based on its website design.

That credibility affects whether people purchase products or services. A company’s reputation is often influenced by the quality of its website. However, having a visually appealing website is not enough to sell. A website needs to be optimized through SEO and digital marketing techniques.

Website optimization has a direct impact on conversion rates. A local SEO company can create an effective marketing campaign to assist your website’s needs. For example, if you are a local business in Ajax needing website advertising, you can access a wide range of solutions with the assistance of digital advertising experts. Your website serves as an online “business card” and is a huge part of your marketing efforts.

It’s important to deliver an eye-popping design and user-friendly experience to continue a conversation with prospective clients and customers.

Video Marketing

Digital Advertising Trend - MyStartupLand

Videos are more powerful than written words. Digital marketing expert Dr. James McQuivey says that “a minute of video is worth 1.8 million words“.

Visual content is a huge part of digital advertising. Cisco’s “Visual Networking Index” reports that by 2019 videos will represent over 80% of internet traffic. Since many online users are quickly jumping from one site to the next, seeking instant gratification, video advertising answers their questions and satisfies their needs quicker than something to read.

Here’s more information about the popularity of video marketing:

  • Video ads now account for 35% of all spend going on display advertising.
  • 87% of online marketers use video content as a marketing strategy.
  • Native Facebook videos have 135% greater organic reach than photo posts.
  • Placing videos in emails leads to an increase of click-through rates (up to 200-300%).
  • YouTube reported that mobile video consumption rises 100% every year.

As the advertising industry grows, businesses who execute smart web strategies stand to benefit. Use Facebook and YouTube video ads and you might gain 80% more attention from people using the Internet.

Mobile Advertising 

Consumers turn to mobile devices for a wide variety of online activities, such as online shopping, browsing for products, and finding local businesses and services. ComScore’s “2017 U.S. Cross-Platform Future in Focus” report stated that nearly 70% of digital media time is spent on mobile. Early in 2018, Google announced its “mobile-first” algorithm, indexing mobile content and using it to influence a website’s ranking in search engine results. Mobile-friendly websites are the path to more profits and online success.

Make your website’s content dynamic and equivalent for both mobile and desktop for strong online business leverage. Remember to verify the mobile version of your website in the Google Search Console.

Purchased ads can seem ubiquitous and monotonous. Local companies need an advertising approach that stands apart from the competition. Planning ahead and with a creative approach will give you an advantage in the market. Try to understand whether you can do this in-house or with the help of an external agency. 

 

What is your approach when it comes to digital advertising? Do you agree with our digital advertising trends for 2018? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Top European Startup Accelerators 2018

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Top European Startup Accelerators - MyStartupLand

Europe is still behind its main counterpart the U.S. when it comes to entrepreneurship. In this ecosystem, we are still struggling to find the right recipe to replicate successful startup accelerators, like TechStars, YCombinator or 500 Startups. For this reason, it is not an easy task to identify the top European startup accelerators.

In the last few years, however, Europe has become more open to entrepreneurship and has welcomed entrepreneurs from all over the world. Startup hubs like London, Berlin or Paris are getting closer to what we see in San Francisco or New York. Despite replicating the entrepreneurial vibes, Europe VC fundings in startups represent only a fifth of what we see in the U.S. Having said that,  European policymakers are recognizing the key role VCs play in a startup environment.

Recently, the European Commission, together with the European Investment Fund, announced a €2.1 billion investment fund for programs to boost investments in innovative startups.

Considering the growing startup environment and the birth of many startup accelerators in the European region due to EU funds, we decided to list the top European startup accelerators in major countries.

Where Are The Top European Startup Accelerators? 

Considering the highly fragmented European market, it is complicated to established which country has the best startup environment. Without any doubts, Western Europe plays a critical role in attracting top startups (and investments). However, Eastern Europe, thanks to EU funding as well, is growing at an incredible pace.

The obvious difference in this environment is that Western Europe is more mature in terms of understanding market opportunity and growth. The East side of Europe, on the other hand, has lacked the “freedom” its counterpart had for a long time. Consider that some countries in the East of Europe were under a communist regime until the end of the 90s.

To compile this list, we decided to have a look at the most recent update startup accelerator ranking, provided by Startup Blink and highlight the top 3 startup accelerator per country. Where this ranking lacked information or didn’t seem accurate we compensated the ranking and information with additional research, combining different resources.

Top Startup Accelerators In The U.K.

London is undoubtedly the startup accelerator capital in the U.K. It has 16 different startup accelerators, which make around 4.2% of all accelerators globally.

Techstars London

Techstars London - MyStartupLandLocation: London, U.K.

Investment: 120,000

Equity: Between 5% and 10%

Ranking in the U.K.: #1

Ranking Global: #10

Description: Techstars is one of the top startup accelerators in the world. With its investment, Techstars offers an intensive 3-month mentorship-driven program and an amazing network of mentors and alumni globally.

Seedcamp

Seedcamp - MyStartupLandLocation: London, U.K.

Investment: 50K+

Equity: Varies

Ranking in the U.K.: #2

Ranking Global: #14

 

Description: Seedcamp supports startups from the pre-seed and seed stage onward. They back ambitious founders from around the world and help them build billion dollar global companies by providing them the right access at the right time to learning, network, and capital.

Collider

Collider - MyStartupLandLocation: London, U.K.

Investment: 50K – 100K

Equity: Between 10% and 12%

Ranking in the U.K.: #3

Ranking Global: #73

Description: Collider is an accelerator dedicated to madtech startups. The startup they invest in help brands understand, engage with and sell to their consumers with innovative technologies. The aim of the game is to help these startups become sustainable, rapidly growing businesses. Collider also partners with brands and agencies to help them get working closely with game-changing technology startups and introduce their teams to new ways of working.

Top Startup Accelerators In Germany

Although different cities in Germany provide some sort of investments to startups, either through VCs or startup accelerator programs, Berlin takes the crown. In the city there are 6 formally known startup accelerators, which accounts for about 1.6% of all startup accelerators globally.

next media accelerator

Next Media Accelerator - MyStartupLandLocation: Hamburg, Germany

Investment: Between 0 and 50K

Equity: Between 3% and 10%

Ranking in Germany: #1

Ranking Global: #92

 

Description: next media accelerator is a network driven accelerator for startups creating new information experiences and tools. They host batches of five teams over six months period program in Hamburg. The program is looking for companies that bring innovation to the media industry and look for international markets.

SpinLab – The HHL Accelerator

SpinLab - The HHL Accelerator - MyStartupLandLocation: Leipzig, Germany

Investment: Between 0 and 15K

Equity: None

Ranking in Germany: #2

Ranking Global: #93

Description: SpinLab – The HHL Accelerator supports the growth of entrepreneurial and innovative teams who want to scale up their businesses. Located within Leipzig’s creative and inspiring Leipzig’s Cotton Mill (Leipziger Baumwollspinnerei), they provide access to infrastructure (co-working office space and technology), coaching and mentoring, as well as to our international network of successful business founders, established market players and leading investors.

APX – Axel Springer & Porsche

APX Accelerator - MyStartupLand

Location: Berlin, Germany

Investment: Varies

Equity: Varies

Ranking in Germany: #3

Ranking Global: #109

Description: The APX program is where founding teams get the tools and support they need to build traction and drive growth. In 100 days, startup founders get connected with experienced experts and mentors, who’ll assist them with perfecting pitches, looking for venture capital, or hiring CTOs, marketing experts, and much more.

Top Startup Accelerators In France

France’s startup ecosystem, like many other European countries, rotates around its capital Paris. Having said that, there are other key cities in the country where notable startup accelerators are developing. In Paris, we can find about 1.1% of the startup accelerators globally.

Fintech Boost by L Atelier – BNP Paribas

LAtelier-BNP-Paribas - MyStartupLandLocation: Paris, France

Investment: Up to 100K

Equity: None

Ranking in France: #1

Ranking Global: #

 

Description: Fintech Boost is a 4-month intensive acceleration program that connects Fintech startups directly with business lines of BNP Paribas Group. For Startups, it is the best chance to make it work with European Leading Bank and the opportunity to boost their business development in a short time frame.

50 Partners

50 Partners - MyStartupLandLocation: Paris, France

Investment: 50K+

Equity: Between 5% and 10%

Ranking in France: #2

Ranking Global: #133

Description: 50 Partners is a french Accelerator founded by 50 successful entrepreneurs dedicated to supporting startups. The organization provides the founders with mentoring, offices and connections with an accurate network to impact the development of early-stage tech projects.

StartUp42

Startup42 - MyStartupLandLocation: Le Kremlin-Bicètre, France

Investment: Between 0 and 10K

Equity: None

Ranking in France: #3

Ranking Global: #223

Description: StartUp42 is a 4-month non-profit startup accelerator aimed at helping early-stage technology startups go from a good idea to a minimum product and the validation of initial market hypothesis. They provide different services free of charge and do not take any equity.

Top Startup Accelerators In Spain

Like other countries in the southern part of Europe, venture capital and startup accelerators are on the rise, but the scene is not yet fully developed. In Spain in particular, we find two main hubs, Madrid and Barcelona, with the latter being more international.

Wayra

Wayra - MyStartupLandLocation: Madrid, Spain

Investment: 40K

Equity: Unclear

Ranking in Spain: #1

Ranking Global: #

Description: Wayra is the accelerator of Telefónica digital startups. They help entrepreneurs to grow and form successful companies. The acceleration program offers everything a startup needs to get to the top: financing of €40K in cash and up to €60k in acceleration services, workspace in our Madrid and Barcelona academies, access to a global network of business partners, mentors and experts, and the opportunity to work with business units of Telefónica throughout the world.

Seedrocket

seedrocket - MyStartupLandLocation: Barcelona, Spain

Investment: 50K+

Equity: None

Ranking in Spain: #2

Ranking Global: #110

Description: SeedRocket is one the leading accelerator in Spain which provides access to mentors, investors and business angels with a strong focus on technology-based startups at a seed stage.

Lanzadera

Lanzadera - MyStartupLandLocation: Barcelona, Spain

Investment: Between 0 and 200K

Equity: None

Ranking in Spain: #3

Ranking Global: #

 

Description: It is a program launched by the President of Mercadona, Juan Roig, and they focus on supporting new businesses in the financial field. During the Lanzadera Program, which lasts 9 months, startup founders have access to the basics of a proven management model and receive training in key areas for the development of their project.

Top Startup Accelerators In Italy

Italy, very similar to Spain, is evolving in a more entrepreneur-friendly country. Most of the investment, also from startup accelerators, are held by private funds, sometimes with major banks behind. The startup scene is evolving fast though and with different cities taking the spot, there are certainly new opportunities arising every day.

Digital Magics

Digital Magics - MyStartuplandLocation: Milan, Italy

Investment: 50K+

Equity: Varies

Ranking in Italy: #1

Ranking Global: #43

 

Description: Digital Magics is an incubator of digital projects that provides consulting services and acceleration services to startups and enterprises. Thanks to the partnership with Talent Garden and Tamburi Investment Partners, Digital Magics has created the most important national platform for innovation for DIGITAL MADE IN ITALY. The incubation and acceleration services offered by Digital Magics are active in the TAG co-working campuses present throughout Italy.

Nana Bianca

Nana Bianca - MyStartupLandLocation: Florence, Italy

Investment: Between 0 and 10K

Equity: Between 5% and 10%

Ranking in Italy: #2

Ranking Global: #79

Description: Nana Bianca is a start­up studio in Florence. It fosters digital essential products, combining human, financial and relationship­ wise capital. They support digital entrepreneurs in the initial phases of their lives, but even after. Nana Bianca aims to involve quality human resources: full­-stack developers, creatives with an eye for details and dedicated entrepreneurs.

LUISS ENLABS

Luiss Enlabs - MyStartupLandLocation: Rome, Italy

Investment: 30K

Equity: 9%

Ranking in Italy: #3

Ranking Global: #105

 

Description: Luiss Enlabs is a startup accelerator based in Rome, Italy. They are operated by LVenture Group, a publicly listed venture capital company that provides startups with funding and network. Twice a year, they select a new batch of early-stage disruptive startups to join the acceleration program.

Top Startup Accelerators In The Rest Of Europe

All the other countries in Europe have a smaller, yet developing, startup ecosystem. For this reason, we have grouped all the remaining countries together and picked only those startup accelerators worth mentioning.

Founder Institute Warsaw

Founders Institute - MyStartupLandLocation: Warsaw, Poland

Investment: Varies

Equity: Between 0% and 5%

Ranking in Poland: #1

Ranking Global: #6

 

Description: Founder Institute help startup founders build an enduring company by establishing a support network of local startup experts that are invested in their success, and providing a structured business-building process that has helped their alumni raise over $700M.

start it

Start It - MyStartupLandLocation: Antwerp, Belgium

Investment: Varies

Equity: None

Ranking in Belgium: #1

Ranking Global: #130

Description: Start it supports startups in the early ideation phase and beyond. They offer free space, free facilities, free wifi, coffee, events, advice, mentorship, domain expertise on all kinds of topics, a stunning network and a dazzling startup community.

Venturelab

Venturlab - MyStartupLandLocation: Sankt Gallen, Switzerland

Investment: Varies

Equity: None

Ranking in Switzerland: #1

Ranking Global: #74

Description: Since 2015, venturelab focuses as a private initiative on the best startup talents with the ambition and the potential to grow internationally. Together with successful founders, key academic and industry partners, they set up an accelerator to support the next startup generation. World-class startups. Swiss made.

 

Do you know of any other startup accelerator in your area that is worth mentioning? Has your startup gone through any of these top Europea startup accelerators? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below.

The Ideal Prospect Fit – How To Increase Long-Term Revenues

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Increase Long-Term Revenues - MyStartupLand

Regardless of whether you are a sales professional, a freelancer or a startup founder, spending time on the right prospects is crucial for your business. When talking with potential clients, we often forget to ask a key question, “Is this the type of client that will bring value to my business?“. Focusing on the right clients will help you increase long-term revenues.

In the early days as a sales rep and also as a startup founder, I thought that every single lead was a potential client. Every single person I talked to was worth the same amount of time. Every negotiation deserved the same amount of attention and efforts.

That was wrong.

With time, I learned that daily activities should be prioritized based on the importance of each lead. A few years back, I was introduced to the idea of assessing leads on a list of pre-defined metrics to understand how well these leads fit our needs.

It was the beginning of what today I call – The Ideal Prospect Fit.

Here below, I explain in details how to improve your sales activities and get the most out of each lead you talk to.

Are All Deals Created Equally?

Those who are unfamiliar with sales think that closing a deal is better than not closing one. After all, isn’t it true that sales is a number game? The more you close, the more chances you have to make money.

One thing most of us forget though is the opportunity cost we spend on dealing with clients who don’t match our needs. According to the latest Altify Buyer/Seller Value Index co-sponsored by InsideSales.com, the cost of sales reps chasing the wrong deals is $218.000.

Wait, what? Chasing wrong deals can cost me money?!

Not every lead is a prospect and not every prospect should become a client. There are several factors that impact the success of a deal. Generally speaking, we are looking at:

  • Deal Size – How much money is the prospect willing to spend?
  • Buying Behaviour – What steps has the prospect gone through before purchasing?
  • Negotiation – How did the salesperson negotiate the deal terms?
  • Sales Knowledge – How knowledgeable is the salesperson and the prospect about the product or service offered?

These are general factors and depending on the industry you work in, there might be more.

The Most Critical Step: Lead Qualification

Regardless of the industry, qualifying correctly leads is the most important step in the sales funnel. A mistake in the lead qualification process will be affecting the whole sales process. Let’s make an example.

You are talking with someone you have identified as a potential buyer. This person fits your general idea of a good customer. You start talking to her and she seems interested in your service. Great! You move forward with discussing the details of how you provide this service and how she could benefit. There was, however, a point you didn’t pay particular attention to, she mentioned that her company usual commitment to a new service provider is on average 50% lower than what you normally charge. You unconsciously (or not) disregarded that because you are thinking that she will understand the value of your service later on. So you keep investing time on this potential buyer. A few weeks have passed, you met her several times, spent time on phone calls explaining better the solution you offer and how this could fit their needs. She seems interested and she tells you she wants to go ahead. Great job! But there’s a “surprise”… Her initial commitment is indeed lower than what you usually charge. She tells you that she sees the value in your service, but this is a company policy and she cannot change it.

What do you do now? You have been investing weeks, maybe months, in crafting proposals and explanations around your services. Dropping out at this stage would mean throwing out of the window also that time. So you decide to go ahead and close the deal. WHY?

EXCUSE IN YOUR HEAD: You take this as a small concession for a great potential customer in the future.

REALITY THAT SUCKS: You are now stuck with a low-paying client with “high potential” to whom you need to devote the same amount of time you give other better-paying clients.

The opportunity cost of this bad deal will be hunting you for a long time.

A Winning Lead Qualification Process Can Increase Long-Term Revenues

Lead Qualification - MyStartupLand

Lead qualification is crucial to any sales funnel, regardless of the industry you operate in. As shown in the slide above, almost 50% of sales reps admit that lead qualification is the most complicated part of their job. But why?

On the other hand, we also see that 67% of lost sales (and bad deals) are because of a poor lead qualification process. Almost 2/3 of your effort goes wasted because you messed up qualifying properly a lead.

Not Every Lead Is A Prospect

A lead is someone that fits your general idea of a customer. Before starting to reaching out to leads, you should have identified a buyer persona, based on some specific factors. For example, what role does she have in the company? Is she going to be the only one involved in the buying decision? What’s the company size she is working for?… and so on.

Once gone through this step, you should sit with other teams (if possible) and discuss together what are the characteristics of a perfect deal. This means identifying all the metrics that make a deal easy to deliver on.

This is not an easy process, especially if you work alone. You need to think of all factors, internal and external, that can influence a deal with a potential customer. Write them down, dividing them by topic and highlighting which factors are internal, i.e. controllable by your sale efforts, and which are external, i.e. non-dependent of your sales capabilities.

Once you have done that, identify all the relevant possibilities within each metric. For example, if the budget was one of your metrics, write down different potential budget you might close from a client, less 10,000$, between 10,001$ and 20,000, and so on…

Now that you have done this, give a score to each possibility. Assigning a value to each of these will force you to think about different scenarios and how each one of these can be considered, ideal, good, OK, or just bad.

You have now created a winning lead qualification process that can be used daily by you and your team. To make things easy, I have automated this process for you, click on the link below to get access to The Ideal Prospect Fit Tool.

The Ideal Prospect Fit - MyStartupLand

ABP – Always Be Perfect

Having a clear process on how to assess leads will also help you in the negotiation process. All the metrics you and your team will define and agree on will be the base to increase long-term revenues for your business.

The Ideal Prospect Fit Sheet will serve as a tool for:

  1. All salespeople (or just yourself) on understanding what makes a good deal
  2. Internal prioritization on how to handle new clients and make sure everyone pays the right attention
  3. Reducing time wasted on bad deals
  4. Improving your negotiation power over good prospects

And If You Are A Sales Manager In A Company One Last Advice For You…

Creating such a process per se won’t increase long-term revenues if you don’t align other internal activities.

As a sales manager, you will need to make sure that there is a transparent communication around this new process and everyone else involved in it. Everyone needs to understand the value and the reasons why you decided to implement this. It will also be important for you to align the bonus system to reward the behavior of your sales reps.

Lastly, it will be essential to track everything in the right way in your CRM tool. The Customer Relationship Management software will become the point of reference for management to track how effectively the process is.

 

Have you ever had a process to assess the quality of the clients you work with? Do you have any other suggestions to improve the lead qualification process? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

What Are The Benefits Of A Business Consultant For An Established Company?

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Benefits Of A Business Consultant - MyStartupLand

[THIS IS A SPONSORED BLOG POST]

Your company is finally well-established and profitable. You have been investing many hours and made countless sacrifices over the years to achieve this. However, a key question remains. Are you truly using all of the resources to the fullest? Do you feel that you can get more done with the time you have? These are all pertinent questions that, if properly addressed, can help you scale your business and increase profits over time. 

Regardless of how large and successful your business is, there is always room for growth and improvement. No matter how smart you are, there are always things you can learn from external professionals. Corporate Business Solutions recommends the following three tips to help you maximize the potential of the time and energy you have invested. Understanding the benefits of a business consultant is key to growth. 

What Are The Benefits Of A Business Consultant?

Hiring a professional and competent business consultant to look at your business through a fresh set of eyes can you help in many different ways. The right consultant can assist you in finding many areas for improvement.

These areas may include employee morale, productivity, and profitability. With the help of a consultant, you will be able to see an increase in revenue and a significant reduction in expenses. Hand-in-hand, you will discover technologies to run your operations much more efficiently.

A strong consultant will ensure that your strategic actions are aligned with your long-term goals. They can help remove a cloud of confusion you may not even know is there. An external professional will help you see the business purpose much more clearly. As a result, you will achieve greater results.

You can consider joining an industry-related mastermind group. Being part of a group of business owners of similarly sized businesses in a related industry is extremely valuable. Ultimately, these group members are there to help each other. They share best business practices, provide advice, and hold each other accountable. The power of collaboration and collective thinking will provide insights, solutions, and support you cannot get in any other environment. This is what makes groups like these incredibly valuable.

Last, but not least, give some thought to your exit strategy. Consider what you are going to do with your business when it is time to retire. Your business consultant will help you determine the best course of action. They will also ensure you take the necessary steps to maximize the value of your business, which may allow you to retire sooner and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

5 Key Advice for Providing Consulting Services to Startups

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Consulting Services To Startups - MyStartupLand

[THIS IS A SPONSORED BLOG POST]

There is no doubt that startups need outside experts who can do the work as well as provide training on what needs to be done. This is known as “leading by example”. It is actually appreciated by businesses of every size. Many people think that it’s time to eliminate the term consultant as well as focus on activities and approaches that appeal more to the growing volume of small businesses.

Global Resources provides us with six essential key advice for providing consulting services to startups.

Change Your Title To Professional Or Specialist

Identifying yourself as a specialist or professional diminishes the stigma of a consultant role. For example, think of a marketing specialist or staffing professional title. Specialists and professionals are seen as experts who do the work rather than just make recommendations for others.

Join The Movement To Contract Roles

Many businesses have stopped hiring for lifetime commitments some time ago. This is because markets change very rapidly and companies need to prepare their workforce for changing economic conditions.

It’s time to move from traditional consulting services to a freelance execution role as a hands-on interim professional or executive.

Generate A Project-Based revenue model

Rather than establishing an hourly rate, agreements based on projects to be completed put the focus on quantifiable business outputs versus time spent. For example, a marketing project would be the number of leads generated or ad impressions, instead of recommendations for improving the process.

Be Willing To Work At All Organization Levels

There is no doubt that leadership by example works at all levels of a company. As traditionally accepted, leadership is not limited to the realm of the top executive or board of directors, who could bring in consultants for studies and analysis. Specialists today can justify their cost based on more direct return on investment calculations at all operational levels.

Treat A Startup As A Customer, Not A Client

A client relationship suggests that the consultant is in charge. On the other hand, the customer designation recognizes the more modern model of the customer in control. It also underscores all aspects of required customer service, satisfaction, loyalty, and referrals to peers.

Be Responsive To Every Customer Communication

Most consultants today are hard to contact between scheduled meetings due to their formal communication processes. It’s time to implement your customer’s favorite mode of communication. Ask your customer what they prefer. Be flexible and consider texting, phone calls or social media, and do not limit responses to office hours.

 

4 Ways To Create An Effective Lead Management Process

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Lead Management Process - MyStartupLand

In this digital age, does your business still find it difficult to nurture and qualify leads? Do you face problems with lead leakage and lead duplication? Is your business losing high quality leads to competitors? If you answer yes to at least one of these questions, it’s time to implement a lead management process.

An effective lead management process deals with the whole customer lifecycle. It starts with tracking the initial customer contacts and goes through leads nurturing and down to the sales process.

Lead management is critical to your business success. It is like bread and butter for every business. It helps to prevent lead leakage as well as nurture, manage, and reengage leads after a successful sale.

How Do You Define A Lead?

A lead is an initial customer contact. When a person has shown some form of interest in your company’s products and services, he/she becomes a lead. The interest is usually in the form of filling out the web form, visiting your website, downloading a white paper, or attending one of your webinars. 

For an effective lead management process, a business should implement a customer relationship management (CRM) software. There are several options on the market. Some of these are free CRM tools, some others can be extremely expensive. It all depends on your needs.

Here we highlight 4 ways to create an effective lead management process for your startup.

1. Lead Capture Mechanism & Elimination of Duplicate Leads:

In a CRM application, a lead is captured in three different ways:

  • Automatic Lead Capture Mechanism – This allows leads to be automatically captured through integrated web-forms, quote request forms, newsletter subscription, and more. However, leads should be captured also through social media and online marketing activities or conferences. A process structured in this way can prevent leads leakage as well as automatically identifies a high-profit lead generation sources.
  • Leads Import System – Importing leads from an excel spreadsheet into CRM tools.
  • Lead Page – Manually entering details of each individual lead and later save the records in a centralized CRM database.

Besides possessing an automatic lead capture mechanism, you can use a CRM application to clean the lead records by eliminating duplicates.

In a CRM system, you can notice duplicate lead records in the event that the same lead has contacted your business or responded to your marketing campaigns several times. You can use your CRM software to merge duplicate lead records belonging to the same person into a single file.

2. Lead Tracking & Automatic Lead Scoring

Once leads are automatically captured in the CRM system, it’s time to track leads activities. Automatic tracking lead intelligence techniques are the way to go.

A startup implementing a lead tracking methodology can collect the lead’s geographical area, the company size, product interests, the source, as well as their problems, needs, and wants.

Having a lead tracking mechanism enables your company to determine its online behavior. For example, what is its browsing history? How many times have they visited your website? What about your company blog? Have they downloaded any of your whitepapers?

Tracking all this will help your startup better understand the mindset of prospective leads.

Once lead tracking is completed, it’s time to implement a lead scoring mechanism.

Some cloud-based CRM solutions allow businesses to define customizable rules and criteria for leads scoring. Rules and criteria should be fitting your needs and products in order to reflect correctly potential opportunities.

3. Lead Segmentation & Lead Qualification 

Lead tracking and scoring will help your business segment leads automatically into various categories, such as hot, warm and junk leads.

With this segmentation, leads who then show interest in purchasing your company’s products or services will be qualified as sales opportunities. Whenever a lead becomes a qualified sales opportunity, then a separate contact and account record should be created in your CRM tool. At this stage, this lead will enter the sales pipeline and passed on to a sales representative.

4. Lead Nurturing

Once the lead is qualified, it needs then, to be nurtured, engaged and followed-up to become a successful client. The lead nurturing mechanism is effective for those leads who show little interest in purchasing. However, keep in mind that in a CRM system there are no dead leads. Every lead can turn into a good prospect if provided with the right material.

Lead nurturing should be a continuous process for every startup. Leads should consistently be engaged across multiple channels by sharing relevant and interesting resources. These should also be triggered by email marketing campaigns.

 

The lead management process is crucial to any startup. Understanding how a lead contacted your company and mastering the technique that brought that lead to a successful sale will be the source of future success. 

With a clear view and process around this, businesses can optimize the sales strategy efficiently and streamline the lead experience. If you want to take your startup to the next level, invest in a CRM system that can help your business track prospective customers effortlessly, provide real-time lead notifications, as well as automatically prioritize leads for a faster response rate.

sales growth framework - MyStartupLand

 

Do you implement a CRM tool in your organization? How do you successfully control the lead journey? What are some key factors in structuring a successful lead management process? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.