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7 Questions That Will Give Your Startup Some Clarity

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Roy Williams once said, “The risk of insult is the price of Clarity.” I truly believe that.

Below are 7 questions that I’ve answered on Clarity using our Answers feature and I thought my responses could provide some Clarity (pun intended) for your startup.

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Here they are:

1: I need some advice on how to build a team and determining what kind of talent I need…

A great team looks like this:

– 2 full stack engineers who can manage servers, security, build features and code front end JS/interactions.
– 1 visual designer focused on product, information architecture, UX and flows.
– 1 front end developer who can take designs and build out killer interactions and can wireup any back end code to the UI.

The CEO can manage product + customer development and everyone on the team does support.

That’s 5 people and they can accomplish a lot!

2. I’m a 19 year old with a start up idea that doesn’t really know where to start…

Try and find someone your age that can code and persuade them to join you on your journey. It’s either that or learn to code. I’ve done both.

Learning to Code
– www.udemy.com
– www.treehousapp.com
+ many others

Finding a Co-Founder
– Go to meetups
– Find a school that teaches computer science
– Find someone on GitHub.com

The truth is, there are a 100 ways to solve your problem, but it will take risk, and based on your question it doesn’t seem like you’re willing to take any. If you believe in your idea, it may mean sacrificing school. If you’re not willing to risk that, then why should an investor risk his capital on you? It just shows your conviction.

Not everyone is supposed to be an entrepreneur. If you are, you’ll need to step up and take action.

P.S. I started when I was 17. Failed. Tried again at 19. Failed. Kept at it till I was 24. Won. Again at 29. Won. Again at 31. Still going (= Clarity). Just start.

3. What do you say to people who want to “pick your brain?”

My approach is simple. If it comes from a trusted referral, then I use my free Clarity VIP link and still conduct the call using Clarity.

If it comes in cold and there’s no association to a cause, alumni or area of interest, then I just say, “I’d love to talk, but I’m heads down with Clarity and other existing commitments.”  If it’s truly urgent and requires my advice, I conduct all of these requests via Clarity here: http://clarity.fm/danmartell

That works well and sets the expectations.

Clay Hebert http://clarity.fm/clayhebert wrote a great post about that here: The New Way to Say No, That’s Actually a Yes

4. What are the best ways to generate traffic or ways to reach the customers you are looking for as a startup?

It really comes down to 2 major buckets:

1) CONTENT / INBOUND MARKETING

Some people consider this option free, but it’s not. Time is money and it requires a major investment to do it right. Some options are:

– Company blog
– Guest post on other blogs
– Engage on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
– Press
– Videos on YouTube
– Create a free App (web or mobile)
etc …

This strategy is all about creating amazing content/information/tools for your customers. Think about the major questions they have for your industry and answer them. Even consider teaching your customers everything you know about your industry. Doing so will attract them and make you look like an authority.

I’ve done this with my past 2 companies Flowtown (300K U/V), and Clarity (40K U/V) blogs.

Each of the items mentioned above have a unique strategy and tactic… so best to pick the one you’d be most excited about creating and just do that one with all of your resources.

2) PAID MARKETING

Paid means using advertising to introduce your company to potential customers. Some options you have are:

– Google Adwords
– Facebook Ads
– Twitter Ads
– Bing Ads
– Banner Ads
etc …

The only way I would suggest paid marketing is if you truly understand your customer LTV (Lifetime Value). If you don’t know that, then you could be wasting money attracting views to your startup that aren’t profitable. So be sure to have a product/service that makes a profit, then you can test different paid marketing channels.

My rule of thumb is: it will cost you $200 to get 1 new paying customer (on average), so unless you’re making $600 profit from a new customer, don’t bother for now.

5. If you had to pick the most important metric from Dave McClure’s AARRR? What would it be and why?

Retention – if you build something people want/use AND they come back and use it often, then you can usually figure out a business model to make it work (if there’s a big enough market).

6. Building an MVP for an online reward system for consultants, freelancers & VA’s www.payyola.com. How feature rich should this be before releasing?

There are 2 different stages in my mind:
1) Prototype you can show a customer
2) MVP that you can drive targeted users to test demand
3) Releasing publicly would be decided if 1 & 2 prove fruitful (i.e. solid learnings & conversions of interest)

re: 1 – creating a prototype – follow the 5 day design sprint
http://www.designstaff.org/articles/product-design-sprint-2012-10-02.html

re: 2 – using a landing page to test demand
http://practicetrumpstheory.com/2009/11/from-minimum-viable-product-to-landing-pages/

If you plan on charging someone to use the product, test that demand on your page… true customer validation is done with time or money, and time is tough to test without a full product (which could be wasteful).

How many features should you have before releasing?

I would focus on 1 flow, 1 type of user, 1 offer, 1 customer segment and build a product for them that they would deploy and use. Don’t worry about having inventory, just manually fake it/ but it initially. You want to see if anyone will buy, deploy, use… so simplify your MVP to a useful product / not feature rich.

I like the term MVO better
http://book.personalmba.com/minimum-viable-offer/

Also, Minimum Viable Offer
http://andrewchen.co/2009/12/07/minimum-desirable-product/

P.S. Andrew is an expert on Clarity
https://clarity.fm/andrewchen

7. What exit strategies do angel investors want/prefer for a service business?

(I’ve built/sold a service company + raised angel investing 2x + invested in 23 companies as an angel)

The term angel investor can be misleading. Assuming you mean an investor who wants equity for capital, then most never invest in service businesses. Why?

1) Too much risk, as it’s VERY people dependent
2) Hard to scale – continues to cost money
3) The upside vs. the risk isn’t there (1000x returns)

I’m not saying you can’t find someone to invest money into your service business, but they’ll likely want some kind of ownership (control) + dividends (ROI) on their money.

That kind of angel is typically another successful entrepreneur with a complimentary (or unrelated) service company looking to diversify + add value through advice, etc, or they are a high net-worth individual that wants a better return on his money than market rates (typically 12%+ per annum).

Do you have a question?

If you have a question for me, leave a comment below with it. I’ll do my best to answer them all today.

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The SaaS Metrics Dashboard: Is Your Company Growing The Way It Should Be?