If You Build It They’ll Come, NOT
Whether you’re a serial entrepreneur or an aspiring startup founder who’s thinking about taking the leap of faith, I bet you’ve already heard more than once that “if you build it, they’ll come“.
The problem with this statement is that it’s not true, far from it…it’s a myth and you better believe it. This is particularly true when staring an online business and here’s why…
At the time of the writing of this blog post, there are more than 1.9 billion websites on the internet. Every day more than 5 million new blog posts are published to the internet. More than 500 million tweets are sent each day, while Google search is performed close to 4 billion times per day. Astonishing, isn’t it?
Globalization brought about by the advancement in technology, communication and transportation has forever changed the way we live and work. Business paradigm shift has created vast global opportunities for just about anybody with internet connectivity and a laptop.
Starting a business nowadays is much ‘easier’ that it was back in the 80s or even 70s, – pre-internet era. I say ‘easier’ in terms of business formation, access to funds, information availability and reachability. However, running and growing a business is far more challenging than it ever was due to a cutthroat competition and excessive noise created by the global marketplace.
Beating your competition and winning the attention of your target audience, requires some serious planning, winning GTM strategy and bullet-proof execution to cut through all the noise and come up on top. This is much easier said than done and I don’t care what you may hear or read until you actually try it yourself, you simply won’t know.
Having failed twice before I succeeded as an entrepreneur, I feel compelled to share my experience and lessons learned from those failures with aspiring and serial entrepreneurs like yourself in hope that you don’t make the same mistakes in your business.
Without further ado, let’s get right to it…
Plan Ahead…Way Ahead
Once you come up with that billion dollar winning idea and decide it’s time to start a business, don’t jump with both feet just yet and here’s why…
Ideas are dime a dozen and in and of themselves absolutely worthless. What matters is the execution of an idea, be it a million or a billion dollar one. You’ve got to be able to execute it the right way in order to make it worthy of anything, let along millions or billions of dollars.
So once you have that idea, think about who your ideal target audience is and what exactly are you going to do for them? Get to know them well – understand their needs, wants, desire and pains, for your product or a service you come up with should ultimately address them better than your competition. One way to do this right is via buyer personas.
Once you have answered the who and what, it’s time you think long and hard about the ‘how’ which is what I want to stress on in this particular blog post. The how is your go-to-market (GTM) strategy and execution of the same. In other words, how are you going to let your target audience know of your business and the value it offers to them.
Remember, build it and they’ll come DOESN’T WORK, so you’ve got to build it and LET THEM KNOW. You can’t possibly do this once you’ve launched your business because it would be way too late. Instead, you must let them know way before you actually launch your business with all the products and services you carefully design to address their needs, wants, desires and pains.
How can you possibly do this?
Start Early (12-18 pre-launch)
Yes, you’ve read it right, you’ve got to start working on your GTM strategy 12-18 months before the actual launch of your business, product or a service….whatever it is you’re trying to launch to attract the attention of your prospects.
Anyone who’s launched an online business successfully knows full well the amount of carefully planned work they had to put in way ahead of the launch of their business to make it a success.
But what can you start with and where if you don’t have anything in hand?
You’d be surprised just how much you can do before you even design let alone build your product or a service. Let’s assume your billion dollar idea revolves around an online platform which aims to bring together professional freelancers and startup founders – much like Parttimerz – and enable them to collaborate seamlessly across the geographies and time zones.
At the moment, you’ve got nothing but an idea of a platform and clear vision as to who your target audience are 1) professional freelancers and 2) startup founders.
Remember to alway go to where your target audience attention is. At this time and age, chances are your target audience are dwelling on one, two or more of the main social media platforms e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook etc. as well as mainstream blogs and portals e.g. TechCrunch, Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, etc. in search of valuable information related to their spheres of interest, either gig economy (freelancing) or startups and entrepreneurship.
With this in mind and of course, great deal of research on your part along with properly defined buyer personas, you’ll have to setup your social media presence in the form of accounts and company pages on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
In addition, I strongly urge you to set up a professional blog with SEO in mind, focused on the valuable content of interest to your target audience e.g. startups, entrepreneurship, freelancing, gig economy, funding etc. Blogs are true champions in driving quality and relevant traffic, of course provided you build it with SEO and your audience in mind. If I had to choose my favorite traction channel it would most certainly be a blog.
Like with any other worthy achievement, consistency plays a big part here. You’ll have to be consistent and continuously provide quality and relevant content, tailored to your target audience. While at first you won’t have much if any content of your own until you write at least a few blog posts, share valuable and relevant content you find on the internet.
By being consistent, professional, engaging and valuable above all, you will start to build considerable following across your digital assets including your blog, company profiles, pages and groups you build on select social media platforms.
All the while in parallel, you must be building your business, product and or services, so that by the time you’re ready to launch, you’ll have a captive target audience mentally ready and eager to consume your products and or services. This way you’ll increase your chance of success 10x as opposed to simply doing nothing other than building your products or services.
Wrapping it up
Whether you’re building a business, launching a product or a service, getting through all the noise and clutter of today’s global marketplace is inevitably going to be the biggest challenge you’ll face. To overcome such challenge, remember that if you build it they’ll come DOESN’T WORK, instead LET THEM KNOW of your business, product and or a service before the launch. Create awareness of your product or a service and awaken your target audience’s insatiable need for it beforehand to ensure success post launch.
Author: Dzenan Skulj, a Co-Founder and CEO at Parttimerz. He’s a serial entrepreneur and student of life. Utterly passionate about and strong proponent of entrepreneurship, startups, freelancing and self-development, which he regularly blogs about on his personal blog dzenanskulj.com. Dzenan also actively mentors entrepreneurs on their entrepreneurial journey.