Manage episode 337823682 series 3383733
In this episode we answer questions submitted by founders just like you, including:
- If you see other startups doing the same thing, is that a sign that there is a demand for this opportunity? Or a sign that you are not differentiated enough?
- How do you acquire your first five customers?
- How do you fire someone?
You can submit questions for us to answer on our website https://www.thestartuphelpdesk.com/ or on Twitter @thestartuphd - we'd love to hear from you!
Q1: If you see other startups doing the same thing, is that a sign that there is a demand for this opportunity? Or a sign that you are not differentiated enough?
Everyone has competition, and competition is the sign of a big opportunity. At any given time there are likely dozens of startups pursuing a similar vision to yours.
- If you have absolutely no competition, it’s very likely you’re on the wrong path unless you’ve invented a new technology.
- At the same time, you need to be differentiated. Differentiation is the most important asset of your company/product since it’s the only advantage you have in a competitive market, especially if there are large, established companies.
- What makes you stand out? Is it obvious, will a potential customer or user see that difference in the first 30 seconds?
You can learn from your competitors' wins and mistakes. See how your competitors are solving your customers’ problems. The more you know about your customer, the better you can solve their problems.
Q2: How do you acquire your first five customers?
Finding your first customers is hard! You need to get creative, use your network heavily, and make incremental advancements.
- Easiest way - network introductions. Leverage existing personal relationships to meet and get feedback from potential customers. Solve their problems and they should become your first customers.
- Obviously, not everybody has those connections. Create a “customer advisory board”. This involves cold outreach directly to a potential customer or end user’s inbox but you’re not asking for them to buy...you’re asking for advice. These advisors are sales leads. They can give you lots of feedback on your early versions and again some will become customers.
- Other channels I see used at the very beginning for startups are -
- Content marketing
- Consulting - where you’re build something 100% custom initially aiming to find something scalable
- And community first (popular with open source developer tools and crypto)
Acquiring your first five customers is a magical milestone, and...it sometimes requires a pancake breakfast. We're not kidding! Find a creative way to get your target audience's attention and convert them into your early adopters and biggest supporters. Pancakes are always in season.
Q3: How do you fire someone?
First, realize that it’s extremely traumatic to be fired. Second, realize that it’s very traumatic to fire someone. There are a lot of emotions on both sides.
Before you’ve gotten to the point of firing someone, you’ve looked at their performance and set expectations on what needs to change so it’s often not a surprise.
- Start with a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). Have to lay out reasons. Give them a chance to recover. Almost nobody does.
- After 2 week PIP, you can let them go with reasonable severance and ideally a month of health insurance (if you’re in the US).
- Make sure you have spoken to your lawyer & you have at least one other executive on the call.
- Layout - get straight to it, decision already made, now looking to the future. Here’s your reference and severance - just need them to sign non disparagement agreements.
- Immediate removal from systems and physical office