January, 2015
Archive

  • What Is Content Marketing?

    What is Content Marketing?

    Content marketing is a component of online marketing in which business or content marketers create content which can be of any form such as blogs, videos, ebooks, etc…

    Content marketing is a way to attract users and this helps establish you as an authority in your niche. We all love freebies, and would it not be better if the freebie would be a how to ebook?

    Through content marketing you can gain an audience which is highly relevant to your business and eventually turn into paying customers.

    How Can I Start Content Marketing?

    Find Your Niche & Build Reader / Customer Personas

    Before you create any content you must know who your target audience is. There are a number of ways to find your audience, but the proven way to work is to build reader or customer personas. These explain intricate details of your target audience. You think of every aspect of that person. He is your ideal customer.  The one whose life will become a while lot better when he starts to use your services and he will know of this and will reward/compensate you in return.

    Your persona will typically contain the following information:

    1. name
    2. age
    3. income
    4. education level & occupation
    5. family size & dynamics
    6. interests
    7. primary sources of information which your customer uses to get his information, news, etc…
    8. what are the challenges that your customer faces
    9. what are the motivations that drive your customer

    You can add more information about your customer in your persona. The main idea of this is to help you to understand your customer intimately and to be able to get into his head.

    Ways of Doing Content Marketing

    Once you have developed your reader’s persona, and have your niche it will be easier for you to find a topic to write on. You can write blog posts, or e-books targeting your users.

    Following are some ways which you can create new content:

    1. writing ebooks
    2. writing blogs
    3. producing video
    4. producing podcasts
    5. designing infographics
    6. sharing good quality content on social media sites and content curation sites

    The main idea of content marketing is to create unique high quality and relevant content (or share high quality and relevant content prepared by others) which is of use to your target audience and helps you cement a place of authority in your niche so that your business can be attract new traffic and  customers.

    You can also share your own articles or articles written by others on content curation sites, where you can find your target audience is most likely to attend as well. Like you there will be others who will also be sharing useful content which you further can share as well.

    How I Conduct My Content Marketing Activities

    To give you an example i will be explaining how i myself perform content marketing to build an audience.

    You can do this either as a brand, or personally. I started to do this a few years ago with my personal Twitter account where i started sharing articles on business and entrepreneurship which i found interesting and valuable to my followers. Steadily my following and engagement have grown over the years.

    I also create content in the form of blog articles. I have been writing articles related to entrepreneurship and business on this website, and also have written app reviews on Android and Web Apps on our app reviews website.

    After writing the articles i then share it on a number of social networks, especially on Twitter. I am also conducting SEO activities which will further help attract organic traffic when people search for the keywords that i am targeting.

    Conclusion

    Content marketing is a really affordable and usually free way (in monetary terms) to get customers which are highly relevant to your business. I highly recommend this for startup owners who have a limited budget to conduct their marketing activities.

     

    January 26, 2015 • Entrepreneurship • Views: 3093

  • How To Get Funding For My Idea?

    How to get funding for your idea is a question which leaves many dumbfounded. In this article i try to explain what you as an entrepreneur must do before you try to raise funds for your idea.

    By idea i mean that you have either a prototype or a working product. Having just an idea will get you no where as explained later in the article.

    Think of a worthy idea

    Before you try to raise money for your idea make sure it is worthy. The idea can come from anywhere. It can be a new and unique idea, or improving an existing one.
    However there have been cases where the most useless of ideas have been funded and I believe that is just a waste of energy and money.

    Do Your Home Work

    Before starting work on your idea you must first define a user persona which explains who your ideal user or customer is, what his personality is, what his income is, what inspires him.

    Build Your User Persona

    The user persona helps you to understand your ideal user and it will make it easy for you to build your idea and target to the correct market.
    You must then use your user persona to find a problem in your market and pitch your idea to them. If your idea solves a pain point for your market and if they accept it and are willing to either use or pay for it then you are on the right track. If you find something lacking then you will have to pivot and include what is missing, and get rid of what is not important.

    Build Your Business & Marketing Plan

    Always have your numbers ready.  An investor always prefers an idea which already is already being executed and has paying customers and sales.
    A business plan also contains your current costs, expected costs, revenue, expected revenue, etc…
    A marketing plan helps you chart out how you will conduct your marketing efforts. Having a business and a marketing plan explains what you plan to do, and also helps understand your business goals.

    Execution is Extremely Important

    An idea which has not been executed has no value. Unless you have done some form of work on the idea, no one will fund your idea. Executing an idea shows to the potential investors that you are willing to work on your idea.

    Even if you have not yet executed on your idea, but have done your initial homework even then you might get funding for your idea.

    Getting funding for your idea

    Getting funding for your idea
    Source for image: http://techzulu.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/vc-funding-now-what.jpg

     

    Where can I get funding from?

    There are a number of different sources which you can get funding from.

    Borrow from your family and friends

    This is the first place where you should go. There is a high chance they will give you the money  for being family but you have to prove them your idea’s worth. Also you might not have to give any equity since you are borrowing money.

    Look for Angel investors

    Before you can apply to venture capitals and have already exhausted your family and friends for funding, try to find an angel investor. They will either give a convertible loan or ask for equity. Angel investors invest their own money into these startups and as a safeguard also want a high return on investment as there are very chances that the startup will fail.

    Try To Get Venture Capitalists on Board

    Venture capitalists like the Angel investor invest money for equity. Before investing into a company a venture capitalist will have due diligence done and may not invest in your idea if they do not seem it to be a viable investment.

    Bootstrap your way

    If you can afford it it is better to pay from your own savings, then you do not have to share ownership with anyone. You can either spend from your savings or from your monthly paycheck if you have day job. You can also take on consulting work while you work on your idea. The money that you earn through the work can also be used to pay for your idea.

    Crowd Funding

    A new phenomenon which has taken the world by storm is the crowd funding platform such as kickstarter, and indigogo, where you can post the details of your project and your pitch and have others fund your project for no equity. If your project reaches the target then you will get the target. However, since there is no equity involved you have to provide the backers with something in return.

    Conclusion & Disclaimer

    There is no guarantee that your product will be funded even if you have done all of your home work and have a product. If the investor finds the investment to be a good one then he will do so, and also how you pitch to the investor will also matter. Even if you have the world’s best product but you get your pitch wrong no one will invest in your idea.

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    January 12, 2015 • Entrepreneurship • Views: 4109

  • How Do I Build A Company Culture?

    Your Mission Statement

    In small companies, culture are the values and beliefs that you as an organization hold dear and close.

    Your mission statement and future plans for the company dictate what your company believes in and what kind of a team that you want to build around you.

    For example my startup’s mission statement is to solve the world’s problems that matter and to provide solutions to them. We believe in this and we want to help make the lives of our target market much easier and better.

    I believe in this mission, and i want a team around me which also believes in this mission. I want passionate team members who will bring to the table their passion for solving problems and want to be part of this experience of building the company. I do not want people who only work for money as they will not be able to understand why and what we do.

    When your company is in the startup stage it is you who will have to be the first one to initiate the culture, but do bring on your team members on board because without their support it will become if not impossible extremely difficult for you to maintain. You have to be the example which your team will follow.

    If you try your best, but your team is not willing to accept the culture then it will not be possible for you to carry this on for the long term. It is essential that you bring your team especially your senior management on board.

    It takes a team to grow a culture.

    It takes a team to grow a culture. [1]

    Some Examples

    Steve Jobs of Apple Inc. believed in great design. He did not allow products of poor quality and design to leave the design table. If he found something to be lacking and the deadline was approaching fast, he would scrap the whole thing and redo everything. This is what I mean that you as the leader have to act on what you say. There is a reason why during his time Apple products were so well designed of top quality. He himself took part in the design and development process.

    He turned Apple into a company which believed in building well designed products, and not some boring duplicates.

    I believe that if you work on the products which align with your mission statement and values as a company your team will also embrace that.

    Be Responsible & Accountable

    You as the founder of your startup will be the one who will be managing the culture. You have to ensure that you and your team follow the culture.

    Suppose you want to endorse a culture where late sitting does not take place and that your resources come on time every day and leave on time every day.

    You yourself will have to come on time and leave on time. You have to lead by example. When your resources will see this they will get a sense of responsibility. Talk to them about this as well so that they know why you are trying to enforce this. Show them the benefits of this and soon they will understand.

    If you like reading and learning new skills, then encourage that. Purchase online courses for your team so that they study them. Dedicate a part of your team’s working hours to be spent on learning new skills.

    If you want to build a product in your company, then you may not have to be the only one who works on it. Apply the 80/20 rule in your company and let your team work on their own ideas during the 20% of their time and they work on other tasks during the 80% of the time.

    When you see an idea worth working on, build a team to work on it. Hold hackathons to find new ideas. The point is that you as the founder have to be the one who enforces these rules. You have to practice what you preach as well. Be open with your team, and bring them on board, and explain to them why you want to do this.

    I myself love to learn new skills, and to apply them, and so does my team. I have purchased courses on udemy.com for my team to study. In fact when ever they ask me to purchase a course for them i purchase that course. I believe that letting my team have what they want makes them even more motivated to work with me.

    They feel well taken care off that i care about them, and i do because i want them to do well in life. If they do well in life they will do well in my company as well.

    When you hire a resource for your company, make sure that he fits in your culture. As mentioned earlier your company culture is being passionate about solving problems.

    In large companies or organizations cultures do not matter as their aim is to hire the resource for the least amount of salary and their actions will not have much of an impact in the running of the company. Since your company in a small startup which needs input from everyone in order to survive, and grow hiring a wrong person for the job even if he has the skills may mean disaster for your company.

    Suppose you hire a hot shot programmer who writes the most beautiful code, and is really good at his work, but he is not passionate about your mission. He only comes day in and day out just to work and make some money. He does not care what problem gets fixed.

    Eventually he will spoil your environment and your other team members will start to get influenced by him.

    Even if you hire a mediocre programmer, who is willing to learn and improve and believes in solving problems, i say hire him instantly. As time passes he will improve in his skills, and he will show more passion than the other hot shot programmer.

    It is of utmost importance of who gets to be in your team. As your team will increase in size it will become even more difficult to manage your culture and to enforce it. Then you will have to hire people who will do this for you, but do make sure that your culture is not lost in the growth machine and day to day life. Culture is what gives your startup character a meaning to work for.

    Image Sources:

    [1] The plant image has been taken from Enterprise Startegies

    [2] Udemy My Courses List

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    January 5, 2015 • Entrepreneurship • Views: 3764