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A blog is a great way to open up the dialogue between your startup and the online community. It is something we (Cahoots) have been doing for a few months now while we refine our concept and product. Our blog has been a fantastic tool, asset, and outlet for us. We are attracting a growing audience to engage with on a regular basis. As it turns out the biggest advantage isn’t the traffic, it’s the thought, research, feedback, and encouragement that blogging gives us. Therefore, we recommend blogging as a cornerstone to any startup. Here’s why:
1. The Edge: As of December 2012, there are over 634 million websites (Pingdom). There are an average of 150,000 new websites and 7.3 million pages added to the internet everyday. A blog is just one more way to get an edge and stand out from the competition. Research has found that companies who blog generate 67 percent more leads than those that don’t (Kanguro).
2. SEO (Search Engine Optimization): Blogging will dramatically increase your Google Rank. Blog entries are indexed by Google every day. When you write about topics that are likely to be searched by your target audience you gain a lot of visibility.
3. Credibility: Blogging is a great way to share expertise. In addition, committing to blogging regularly demonstrates that you are committed to your startup and persistent. This will make both investors and the online community take you more seriously.
4. Validation: A blog is a great way to obtain the validation that your startup is solving a problem in a way that is congruent with your customer’s needs. Allowing comments on your blog keeps the conversation on your website, though it is good to have them on social media channels too.
5. Encouragement: Doing a tech startup involves spending a lot of long hours at the computer, often in solitude. Sometimes this can get a little lonely. Watching your content go viral is very reinforcing and fuels the entrepreneurial fire.
6. Communication Skills: Writing is a great way to develop your communication skills. Blogging about your startup or topics relevant to your business is a great way to get used to communicating ideas to complete strangers in a clear, concise, and meaningful manner.
7. Learning: Writing articles designed to be of use to your audience (such as this one) makes you research a topic, get your facts straight, and organize the information. By taking these steps for your readers you are also organizing the information for yourself and learning along the way.
8. Attracting Talent: We’ve had a few super talented people approach us about our startup via our blog and social media channels. A lot of the most talented professionals out there are very up-to-date, and part of staying current is reading relevant blogs and being on the lookout for trends. Blogging is a fantastic way to capture the attention of talent.
9. Inexpensive: A blog can quickly and easily be set up for free. The biggest cost of blogging is the time consumption, but we think it is very worthwhile.
When we say you should blog about your startup we really do mean you (yourself, your co-founders, or other involved parties), not hiring someone else to write on your behalf. In the early stages of your business it is very important to be deeply involved with every aspect of its inception. You’re building an identity, a brand, and a presence. In addition, the identity of early stage startups is usually somewhat unclear and you will end up spending just as much time communicating your vision to third parties as you would writing it yourself. However, getting blog posts edited by others, guest bloggers, and having content that is not related to your company written by other writers is okay- just be sure to read it before it is published.
Thanks for Reading,
5 Technologies that make being eco-friendly simple
Big data, apps, geotargeting, and software all present great opportunities for running a greener business and leaving a smaller carbon foot print. Here are five examples of technologies that are increasing environmental awareness in convenient ways:
1. Fuze Meeting: This technology allows for mobile video conferencing across Blackberries, Androids, and iPhones. They enable people to have a meeting anytime, anywhere, and on any device. By allowing people to quickly meet without traveling to see on another face to face this app helps save both time and energy.
2. Surveyor: Approximately two-thirds of energy consumed by computers is wasted by machines that are not in use. A company called Verdiem developed a software called ‘Surveyor’ that manages the energy consumption of computers. Surveyor monitors mouse and keyboard use to determine whether or not a computer is in use, allowing teams to scale down the power usage of computers at certain times of day and when a PC has become idle. In addition, Surveyor actually collects data that helps companies learn about their energy usage over various departments and locations.
3. Find Green: This iPhone app enables people to find eco-friendly friendly businesses nearby. This can be useful as a consumer exercising greater environmental consciousness as well as B2B. As an entrepreneur in clean tech this is also a great way of finding businesses that may be early adopters or collaborators. This app is available for free in iTunes and on Androids.
4. Good Guide: Is a free app that helps you determine which products are more environmentally friendly and ethical by simply scanning their barcodes with your smart phone. Their website also acts as a directory. This makes it incredibly easy to choose better products to stock your business with.
5. iRecycle: This site tells you how to recycle just about anything and helps you find nearby places where you can do it. The app can be found in both the iPhone and Android stores.
Thanks for Reading,
Have an amazing idea for a new business? Great. Before you start spending your money, going to family and friends, go into debt, or seek investment it is important to test the market potential for that idea. Not only will this information help you decide whether or not to spring forward, it will give you valuable information on how to go about it. The majority of small businesses fail within five years if starting up. Here are some great steps you can take to test the waters without drowning:
1. Research: Has your idea been done? Is someone already starting to work on a similar start up? What made them succeed/fail? You can learn a lot from another concept’s failure. Look for holes in other’s execution to determine how you may succeed where others have not. Just because an idea has been tried or is being done on some level doesn’t mean it’s being done well or to its full potential.
2. Seek the Similar: Ask people who are in the same industry what they think of your idea. For example, if you’re thinking of developing software for restaurant reservation systems ask a restaurant manager or owner for their opinion. How high is the demand for the software? Which types of restaurants would be likely to pay for it and how much? You could find someone who has built something similar, like a booking system for medical clinics, and ask them about their experiences.
3. Be Open: Afraid that someone may steal your idea if you talk about it? Ideas are a dime a dozen and most people are excited about their own. Like Edison said, success is ten percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration Don’t let fear stop you from obtaining valuable feedback.
4. Talk to the Targets: Who are your potential customers? Do they need/want your product? Would they be willing to pay for it?
5. Bring it to the Bank: Asking your bank manager for advice is a great way to test the viability of your business. Experienced bank managers have seen lots of ideas and are trained to look for the attributes of success and failure for start-ups. Having a conversation with the bank is a great source of insight and can give you an idea of what hurdles you’ll have to overcome to generate profit and secure funding.
6. Keywords: The Google Keyword Tool gives you insights into searches for particular keywords, such as the number of global and local searches per month. By searching keywords and phrases relevant to your idea you can get a sense for the demand for your product.
7. Build a Free Landing Page: By building a landing page you can gauge the interest level in your product or service and even determine people’s willingness to purchase it. Muse Chimp provides a great guide for doing this in conjunction with Google Adwords.
8. Test Yourself: Last but not least there is a crucial and frequently overlooked aspect to starting any business: what you want. You must ask yourself how much time and money you are willing to invest to get your idea off the ground. Starting a business can be a lot of work and doesn’t suit everyone. As Vidal Sassoon once said “The only place where success comes before work is the dictionary.” What kind of lifestyle do you want to lead? Do you want to travel constantly? Do you want a family/ how will starting a business affect your family? What are your exits?
After taking these eight steps you should have a solid idea of whether or not you should act on your idea and at the very least will have learned a lot about it.
We wish you success with all your endeavors!