startup tips

Top startup tips

Every year the relentless march of new technologies and services aimed at startups changes the business landscape.

As an entrepreneur, or SME owner looking to expand, it's important to know about emerging trends & technologies (and services) in order to make the most cost-effective and productive decisions.

What's most interesting about 2016 is that it is a year in which two huge changes (cloud & mobile) start to reach maturity.

This represents a double opportunity to increase competitiveness, provided you are willing to adapt to new ways of doing things.

Let's take a look at the most important startup tips per category...

Web design & development

2013 saw huge changes to the way in which startups develop sites and applications for the Web.

Check out Weebly & Wix, overtake Drupal & Joomla, which highlights how popular online website builders are replacing traditional CMS (Content Management Systems).

1. Save money using cost-effective, easy-to-use website development tools instead of custom development

It's now within reach of the average person to create a cutting-edge website (eCommerce or otherwise) without needing any experience in responsive Web design, HTML or CSS.

Plus the quality of Web design is often far superior to what can be achieved developing from scratch.

Check out the following to learn more about getting your website online:

2. Get to market early and start generating an income stream

When it comes to Web development, there is no better way to fail than to have a long, expensive website development phase.

It is far better to devote your energy to marketing the company instead of building a website, so put plenty of emphasis on getting up and running as quickly as possible.

Cloud tech

One of the biggest hurdles any startup needs to overcome, is working out how best to manage and administer things efficiently and cost-effectively.

Millions of companies have already migrated to cloud based services for all sorts of different reasons - accounting, tax & payroll, communications & conferencing, file sharing, printing and data storage, and more.

3. Migrate to time-saving, cost-efficient cloud based services

Many traditional vendors of business software are adapting to offer their product online in the form of a cloud based service - as opposed to a physical purchase of their software.

This allows them to offer tailored packages, with flexible pricing, and a whole host of additional advantages. Read more about the cloud for business at 5 top cloud based services.

Marketing

Arguably the hardest part of starting any venture is finding enough clients or customers to stay solvent. And this makes marketing your number one concern.

4. Diversify your marketing strategy

Many startups that rely heavily on the Internet got burned by Google in 2013. Huge, sweeping changes by the search giant wiped out thousands of businesses overnight.

This served as a painful reminder not to put all your eggs in one basket.

While organic search traffic can be richly rewarding, it is not stable enough on its own. Combine a content strategy with social media and email marketing, and plug the gaps with advertising.

By some measure the most effective way to market online is to build up a strong, opt-in mailing list, because this gives you direct access to people who have taken the trouble to make it clear they are interested in your offering.

You can reduce the amount of administrative work associated with maintaining a marketing list by using one of the leading email marketing services.

Check out GetResponse vs. Constant Contact - a direct comparison of two market leaders in this field.

If you have the budget for some online advertising, I recommend you read 10 great tips on how to make Google AdWords profitable for some pointers on how to do this effectively.

5. Don't ignore personal, face-to-face relationship building and networking

It's easy to get bogged down trying to build up followers and fans on social media, or subscribers on email. But no matter how much potential they hold, don't let them replace good old fashioned face-to-face networking.

Make every year a year for shaking hands and greeting people personally, and you'll go a long way to setting yourself apart from the competition.

So those are my 5 tips for starting and growing a business. What trends do you think will emerge over the year, and which ones are especially important for startups?

Share your tips and ideas in the comments.

Real world elevator pitch example. Pic by Joe Penniston

Our earlier article on how to pitch big new clients touched on the importance of a good elevator pitch, and how this 30 - 60 seconds of info can mean the difference between success and failure.

I wanted to follow this up by showing how real-life entrepreneurs and startups used their own, unique elevator pitches to win new business or capture valuable publicity.

Top ideas from university entrepreneurs

Encouraging younger people to become involved in entrepreneurship by holding business idea competitions is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to innovate our way out of the current financial doldrums the world finds itself in.

The creativity and energy exhibited by the students who enter the top business idea competitions from around the U.S. have shown the rest of us just how easy they can make it look when it comes to generating a new idea, putting together a plan, and pitching it to the world like pros.

Gap in the market startups. Photo by Robert S. Donovan

Being an entrepreneur is one of the best vocations in the world because it encourages you to view everything as an opportunity for innovation. And, once you have an idea, you have to challenge it. Break it down. Make it better. Throw it away. Start again. Fail. Fail. Fail. Until you succeed.

Whatever you can imagine, you can do. Provided you have the drive and determination to see it through.

WAH with your own freelance writing job. Pic by Evelina Ander

Believe it or not, it is entirely possible to hire yourself as a freelance writer and turn that part-time job into a successful business that earns decent money and gives you the freedom to work from home (or anywhere you want).

The Internet has an insatiable demand for content, making freelance writing one of the most popular WAH (Work At Home) job choices for thousands of bloggers and journalists around the world. This is because virtually every aspect of digital marketing relies, to some degree or another, on great underlying content.

home business ideas to make money fast

Finding a way to make money quickly is really not as good as finding a way to earn a stable income in the long term - get rich quick schemes tend to be a waste of time and effort (except for the people selling the scheme).

At least that was the point of my argument with a friend the other day. They ended up betting that I couldn't come up with at least one idea that would start generating cash within 24 hours.

In the words of Barney, "Challenge accepted!"