Usually we share knowledge, today we mainly share experience. With Bakklog, our founder and CEO Stephan Moerman has set up a successful start-up that helps start-ups and SMEs to design, build and grow beautiful online websites, apps and platforms.
There is a lot involved in building or building a successful start-up. And while it may seem easy when we look at the results with companies like Uber or AirBnb, in reality it is extremely difficult and a lot of work. Not to discourage you, but 90% of start-ups fail within a few years.
Coming up with a good idea is a good step, but then the real work begins. You will have to validate your idea, expand the services or product and then also learn a lot about entrepreneurship. If you then grow, you will also have to learn a lot about building a good team.
Stephan today gives you 8 tips from his experience as a start-up founder and CTO at a start-up within the travel industry with which you can make your start-up successful. Let's go!
First of all, we naturally asked for the most important tip that Stephan would like to give future start-up founders.
1. Build a brand
You don't just sell your products or services. You sell your brand. If your brand doesn't stand out among the existing brands in your industry, customers won't bother to learn more about your product or service. Establishing your brand identity is paramount (and one of the most important business tips). Of course there are many channels on which you can build your brand, but don't forget that you have to tell a story.
Too often I see that starting entrepreneurs continuously post messages that are purely sales-oriented or they spam messages in Facebook groups. People are not waiting for this, whether you work in a B2B or B2C segment; you have to make an effort to leave a nice impression. There is no magic pill that will help you build visibility in one fell swoop.
No business today can easily reach many customers if they ignore social media. But make sure you have attractive content, so that you attract new followers and customers and these new customers get a positive image of your brand.
2. Desire to learn
Once your business reaches a certain level, you can tend to get bogged down in its complacency. But the market is constantly changing and so your start-up has to grow with it.
What works well today may be outdated tomorrow. This is also often the time when companies start to fail. Fortunately, I have good tips for you to keep you up to date:
Stay informed of the developments of your competitors
Hold company-wide Q&A sessions
Listen to business podcasts regularly to increase your knowledge
Read about your industry and stay involved
Organise regular team training sessions
3. Build your team
Your business does not depend on you alone. Everyone on the team is responsible for completing the tasks to ensure the company is successful. In the early years you will be working day & night, making long full weeks and taking little to no vacation. Nevertheless, it is important to ensure that you can eventually focus on the growth of your company, and this will only become possible if you no longer work in, but on your company.
In addition, your team is important. After spending some time with the company, your employees may find the work monotonous and boring, and lose sight of the challenge. They can become unmotivated leading to a downfall of individual performance.
That's where you provide support. Your team is your most important asset; so it is important that you keep the team going and that you encourage and motivate everyone. Try to look beyond the qualifications and competences of applicants and look for a "cultural fit", so that a new employee fits well within the team.
Has your company gone through a difficult period? Look for fun team building activities. Team building can really make your team bond well. Rewards and appreciation for good work are always a win-win. This is one of those business tips that many new companies/start-ups ignore as they primarily focus on gaining more market share and getting more investment.
4. Be accessible to your customers
Good business is not about that one individual sale. It's about retaining customers and providing them with new offers all the time, but don't lose sight of your customers' business goals. If I make an offer to a customer from Bakklog, I make sure that they earn back the investment - provided they continue to do their job well.
Personal contact is very important for many customers. You don't want to know how many times I've been on the phone late into the night to help customers, give workshops or discuss projects. Sometimes this is difficult, because the next morning your agenda is full again, but the connections you build in the beginning will help you enormously by means of references.
In addition, your support or customer service is something you should not take lightly. Especially at start-ups people are trying to cut back on this. Have an efficient customer service policy. If and when the customer is dissatisfied, make sure you compensate them for their unpleasant experience. Make sure you express appreciation and leave someone with a positive feeling behind.
5. Stay Organised
You cannot grow unless you have the right processes in place. As the company grows, the challenge of keeping it organised naturally grows.
It is important that you automate daily tasks as much and as well as possible. Go paperless with great solutions such as the Office 365 package. Here you will find the necessary tools such as Microsoft Planner, Outlook, Teams and OneNote with which you can keep track of time, manage tasks and make it easy to (re) find documents from all devices.
Staying organised is one of the most important tips I can give to starting entrepreneurs. Make sure that this becomes and remains a standard part of your daily activities.
6. Be Transparent (But Not Invisible)
Your customers want trust, and you create this with transparency. Make sure you have a standard information pack that you can share with each customer that gives you an insight into your own kitchen. Explain what you are good at and what problems you have solved for other entrepreneurs, for example, in the form of case studies.
It will not only help you generate more leads and sales, but also create a sense of brand loyalty and trust among them. This will also help you differentiate your business from competitors who are less transparent.
All companies that want to build and/or maintain the trust of their customers should work towards greater transparency. Fortunately, the corporate world is also working on this shift!
7. Keep Up With Social Media Trends
Gone are the days when you only needed a Facebook page to mark your social media presence. Your start-up needs to be represented on all social media platforms and continuously break the barriers of innovative social media marketing.
However, it is important that you don’t spend too much time on different social media platforms. You can post rock-solid messages on your Twitter, but if your target audience isn't on that social medium, you won't get any results. The first research you want to do is where your target group is all present.
Social media is a constantly changing world. You will encounter new challenges and trends every day that will end before you realise it. It's very important to stay on top of the latest social media trends, especially if you want to be in the minds of the younger audiences.
8. Know your competitors
You are not alone in the market. The entire market share is divided between companies that trade in products and services that are comparable to yours. Consider this a wake-up call and make sure that you make your company distinctive.
Without knowing anything about it, it will be very difficult for your company to stand out from the crowd. You need to identify the weaknesses in competitors and make those areas your strengths.
Compare your marketing strategies with those of your competitors, but focus on your own growth. There comes a time when competition becomes less important and you have chosen your own niche with which you can constantly attract new customers.
Running a business is subjective. What works for someone else may not work for you. It's an experimental process. Hopefully my tips will give you an edge and help you stay ahead of your competitors.
Do you want to go the extra mile and grow your business online faster, improve your website or have a new website designed that attracts the right audiences? Then I would like to sit around the (digital) table with you and discuss opportunities that await you. Let's discuss your opportunities.