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Melissa Spadafora

HOW TO BUILD A BRAND FOR YOUR STARTUP

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How to build a brand for your Startup

The thought of building a brand for a new startup can sometimes be daunting for those who think they are not especially creative. But truthfully – this is the fun part! The key to building a recognizable brand is: message consistency. The following 3 questions form the base for building a brand and establishing a message. 

  1. What feelings or emotions do my customers have?

Your company is solving a problem for a particular customer segment and this segment has emotions that may be more prevalent than others. Colours that reflect certain emotions are a great way to relate to your customers through your brand. For example, red is often identified with anger, embarrassment and love. Blue relates to shyness, sadness and calmness. And so on. Begin by making a note of what you think may be your customers’ predominant emotions and then find colors that are relevant. A helpful tool to find colors is http://www.mikesclark.com/web_management/html_colours.html.

  1. How do I want them to feel after using my solution?

After customers use your solution do they feel more confident, happier or excited? All of these emotions could be used to find the type of font for your branding. For example, if your customer feels strong you could choose a bold font. Ultimately you want to choose aspects that will truly connect and resonate with your customers. A tool that is helpful is http://www.fontpicker.net/Online. Here you can find hundreds of different types of fonts and compare styles.

  1. What 3 adjectives would I like my customers to use after using my solution?

Thinking about adjectives you would like customers to use after using your solution is beneficial when choosing different elements of your logo. Depending on the name of your solution and your elevator pitch you could use these adjectives to add to your design or to make it more unique. Remember don’t make your logo too busy because this could cause confusion once used on different platforms.

You will use the answers to these 3 questions to guide you through creating your brand. It is important for you to know that there is no right or wrong when it comes to branding and you shouldn’t overthink it too much. You want to be good enough today because it is better to get out the door today than it is to wait. Things change and new competition enters the market. So the faster you get out, the better chance you will have to build something great.

4 Common Startup Pitfalls

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pitfalls to avoid in business

Building a startup is difficult and launching one is even HARDER! Many new entrepreneurs have very little business background. Learn from those who have been there, done that.

Here are 4 common pitfalls that new startups face:

  1. PUTTING ALL YOUR RESOURCES INTO PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

Product development is just one aspect of a new business that needs resources. For example, resources also need to be allocated to marketing, customer acquisition and the team. This is difficult for first time founders to realize because their main concern is finalizing the product. Although you should plan to allocate resources for product development, you should do the same for all other aspects of your business. Keep in mind startups are able to generate funding from investors with only a concept through Kickstarter campaigns.

  1. CANNOT FIND A PROBLEM WORTH SOLVING

Many founders believe that if a problem exists for them, it must exist for everyone. Although this is a great place to START (finding a problem you are currently experiencing) it does not mean it is a problem worth solving. Find a customer segment to focus on then validate that this segment is experiencing the same problem by conducting face-to face interviews. This validation process is often missed by new entrepreneurs but it is a key success factor.

  1. BEING A ONE MAN TEAM

Many founders find it difficult to trust others with their new business idea. They may feel like they know everything about the industry but sometimes forget about other areas of a business such as finance, marketing, human resources, client services, IT, etc. Finding a partner and team members is crucial for startup success. In order to get to the point of scaling a business, startups need 3 distinct skill sets; business acumen, domain knowledge and operations experience. These skills can be held by one founder, two founders, or even a team. But before scaling a startup you should have all three corners of the talent triangle covered.

  1. WRITING A BUSINESS PLAN

A business plan in the 21st century is called the Lean Startup Methodology. The lean startup methodology uses information to navigate the path to a successful startup – it tells you where to go, when to turn, and when to persevere and grow at maximum acceleration. A traditional business plan is dormant; it becomes obsolete the minute it’s printed. Why? Because your startup will be evolving and pivoting constantly and the best way to display your startup is on a Lean Canvas. The lean canvas is a 1-page, point form, summary of your business model, that can be completed quickly. Once you start developing your Lean Canvas, you will start to see your startup come to life.

Learn from others and the 4 most common pitfalls for a startup. Overcome the above and you will be one step closer to startup success!

Good luck.

The secret to finding a good business idea

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How to find a good business idea

The secret to finding a good business idea

The thought of starting a business is frightening for many people because of the risk of failure. 42% of respondents in a Fortune magazine survey state, “lack of market need is the number one reason startups fail.” New entrepreneurs must validate their idea with a defined market. Not every idea is a good one. A bad business idea is an idea that sounds great on paper but never generates revenue. By asking yourself the following three questions you will be able to eliminate the risk of moving forward with a bad idea.

  1. What do you love to do?

Take a moment and think about what you love doing on an everyday basis. LOVE is an important word. You must be passionate about what you’re doing instead of doing it simply because you perceive it to be a strength. You will be spending days, months, and years on this project and in order to stay focused and motivated you MUST love what you’re doing.

  1. Who do you hang out with?

Who else do you know better than the people you are surrounded by? You understand their problems, interests and their everyday behavior. All of these factors play a part in finding a good business idea. Many founders reverse the order of finding a customer and finding an idea. They start by coming up with what they think is a great startup idea then they look for customers. This can result in new founders spending time and resources building a solution only to find out that their initial idea wasn’t as good as they thought it was. Find your target market first and then create a solution that solves a problem they have told you they have. You understand the people you see often. They are your friends, family, co-workers or people who enjoy a sport/hobby that you enjoy. You have easy access to them. This will allow you to more easily validate a business idea than if they were part of a group you rarely saw.

After you’ve identified a group of people you know well, and have easy access to, you will be able to conduct interviews in order to discover the challenges they are facing and problems they are trying to solve.

  1. What do people say you are good at?

People have different skills. These skills stem from years of practice, learning and experience. It is important to have some knowledge of your idea’s industry. This is called, Domain Knowledge. Having a moderate degree of Domain Knowledge allows you to better understand the industry terms and keep up with current trends. It also allows you to consistently test your assumptions and validate your idea.

What is the secret to finding a good business idea? Start with a segment of the market you know well, ask as many members of this market as possible about the problems they encounter, collate the results of your surveys and create a solution to the problem that arose the most often. In other words, define your market FIRST, and after you have discovered their unmet needs, you’ll better be able to create a solution, or a new startup idea.

The next step will be to test that idea with that same market segment to determine if your solution to their problem is a viable solution and if it is, whether they would pay for it. But one step at a time.

Good luck!