Hell! Such a shitty place!
Yes, that was my first reaction, on entering this office of mine, after an awesome Sunday break. (I still get the creeps recounting that incident). Right on the doormat lay dog shit. And I freaked out like anyone else would have. And as I gingerly made my way inside, as expected, things were no different. Dust all over the place. Stained tea cups lying in one corner of the room, save for my PCs, which fortunately booted up without any issues.
This was probably some five years back. Fortunately, I worked there only for a few months before moving on. Today, I hear, the company is doing well.
Good for them!
Any guesses, what made this office so unkempt and dirty?
No manservant! No maids!
Yes, you read that right! The office had zero budget for peon or manservant.
Yes. And this stolid CEO’s reasoning was: the peons and maids behave pricey these days. So better work without one.
(Hmm…so treat your employees shabbily.)
Did someone say, treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers. So much for the thought.
Stinky bosses, much less stinky places, I tell you.
There’s yet another story that comes to mind right now:
This again happened a couple of years back. One of my ex-bosses was an IIM Ahmedabad fellow. (Well, for the uninitiated, that’s the No. 1 institute in India offering high-end MBA programs, ensuring big, boisterous packages to the students once they are done with their courses. Oh! Wow, you might think. But nope, I wasn’t really happy working there, being paid peanuts and all.) But then, I hung around, because my work was getting appreciated. And that too, by none other, but by a person who had an IIM tag under his name. And that came as a big ego booster for me.
Speaking of this guy, he was accustomed to spending his days and nights running his start-up gift site. And to keep his project alive and kicking he had orchestrated a small team – One Web Designer, One Developer, and Two Freelance Writers. Yep! That’s it. A small team, besides loads and loads of sweat equity. Today, after 6 years in existence, the company is doing good for itself.
The strategy my ex-boss was banking upon all the time was: Bootstrapping. No additional employees. No salary headaches. Complete peace of mind. I reckon, in several ways he was right. Better than hire and fire people randomly.
Smart, Savvy Bosses
Today, again, I am working for a start-up. Run by a street-smart CEO, here things are diametrically different. This start-up has no fewer than 200 developers and designers working on different app projects, both in-house and client projects. Yes, going by the count of in-house employees, you can say that the company isn’t just surviving, but thriving and kicking. And, for a change, I am enjoying here. No shitty floors. Creative freedom. No-breathing- down-your-neck bosses. Six years in the business, this CEO, apparently, knows what it takes to keep a start-up alive and kicking on a minimum budget.
To each its own, maybe.
The Art Of Running a Thriving Start-up
Here’s how my existing boss went about running his start-up app venture:
Step 1: Setting up a Website First to Test the Viability of Product
A website was first erected. (You could also try on a smaller scale by designing a landing page as well.) And without thinking too much, an ad was placed on the homeage, offering the product on a free-trail basis. Why? Because the free-trial add is the best barometer to test the market potential of the product. Interested visitors, to get a basic idea on what the product does, will surely register themselves.
#Step 2. Publishing Content Of High Emotional Value on Company Blog
Focus on building great content on your blogs. No doubt, it should be informative. But, by all accounts, consider the EQ as well. An emotionally charged content, is what makes the the difference between a great copy and a good copy.
Take, for example, Jon Morrow of boostblogtraffic.com and ex-editor of Copyblogger. This blogger has mastered the science of content creation like no else. Just hop over to his site and you’ll know how this man makes the most of his EQ. (Of course, he’s my role model. )
And, before I forget, add a subscription form to your website/landing page as well to help visitors benefit from your blog updates.
# Step 3. Publishing High Industry Value Content for Subscribers
Mind you, writing a blog post is pretty much easier than setting up a “Resource Page” on your website, that too, with loads and loads of high-value content. In fact, it’s a different ball game, altogether. That is, loading knowledgeable stuff on your “Resource Page.”
Here we have come up with different “how-to guides” that are a big hit among our visitors.
People, these days, thirst for knowledgeable stuff. Quench their thirst by coming up with some awesome content that could be shared both by your friends and content influencers. And don’t forget: People accord great importance to downloadable content than mundane blog posts.
#Step 4. Leveraging Guest Blogging
For what it’s worth, it’s an awesome marketing strategy to milk for generating relevant traffic. But then, it should be done correctly. For this, you might require training and all, so that you could be competent enough to churn out some awesome posts for some of the biggest blogs in the world. In short, it means, working your butt off. Days and months could pass with no results.
However, if you go by the long-term results, I reckon, no other strategy is as good as guest blogging. The results are that stunning. And this I am telling from experience.
You could even persuade the experts in your domain to write guest posts for your blog. And, you in turn, could offer them some supplemtary material and all for their posts as well.
#Step 5: Making the Most of Social Media
If you are running a business, there’s no escaping social media. It has become an indispensable part of businesses these days. But then, there’s no use spreading yourself thin. As in, having an account on all social media platforms and not making the most of it. So, whittle down to those that works for you, and then milk it to the maximum. As in, if you running a beauty site, take advantage of Instagram. If you are running a B2B business, harness Linkedin and Twitter, and so on and so forth.
Here’s our list of the most used social networks
Facebook – Best for B2C Products
Twitter – Good for B2B
Instagram – Is you product visual?
Google+ – Do you have customers here?
LinkedIn – Good for B2B
There are others as well, but the above-mentioned are the most used.
#Step 6: Targeting Local Media
This is one of the economical strategies that he safely betted upon. Getting his friends and family in the loop and then getting them to share the blogs and brand at large. Additionally, one could take advantage of local Craigslist community and discussion forums by making a few posts there as well. Besides, this you can try placing ads in local newspapers, and magazines. Further, Share your start-up with Meetup.com as well.
What’s more, add you company name to all the local directories possible.
# Step 7. Indulge in Promotion/Cross Promotion
Narrow down your user base and then stalk them. As in, find out those places where they congregate- both offline and online. Then, find out creative ways to introduce yourself to the community. My boss has been regularly looking for speaking opportunities, at world famlous insititues likes IIM Ahmedabad, to promote his app. The last time he spoke to an August crowd. And he was thrilled by the audience’s response.
#Step 8: Iterate, Iterate, Iterate
You may have built an outstanding product. But then, iteration is part of the product package. If you distance yourself from it, be assured, your product is on the brink of bankruptcy. So, keep your ears hooked to users. Listen to what they say. And make changes constantly. To use a cliché: Change is only constant.
This is what we have been doing until now. Several strategies will be added, going forward, for sure. Until then, you too could start experimenting with some of the above strategies.