Customer acquisition is the lifeblood of an entrepreneurial business, especially for startups, but it’s possible for an entrepreneur to spend all their time on client acquisition and still fail to grow a thriving business. According to a study by the Indiana Small Business Development Center, the top reasons startups fail today are:
- 46% – Incompetence
- 30% – Unbalanced experience or lack of managerial experience
- 13% – Catchall category (includes neglect, fraud, and disaster)
- 11% – Lack of experiences in line of goods or services
No matter how healthy the economy is, the pitfalls that commonly derail startups still apply. The good news is you don’t have to hire a team of experienced professionals to ensure you have the competence and relevant expertise you need to sidestep potential hazards and fill your skill gaps. You can tap a vast network of experts instead – here are eight kinds of independent professionals who can help you fast-track your startup growth and avoid common fails.
1. The business plan writer
In their excitement to go to market, many entrepreneurs sidestep writing a business plan only to regret it later. A good business plan is more than just a snapshot of what your startup is and what you want it to be – it’s a battle plan for your company. It identifies your chief competitors and develops strategies to beat them. It contains expertise, mission, vision, and guiding principles. And it also addresses contingency plans for those “catchall” scenarios like fraud and neglect and lays out a working business model you can use to develop all your business operations.
2. The market researcher
While your business plan defines your target markets generally, it doesn’t do a deep dive into market research. A market researcher can give you actionable data to help you reach, engage, and convert your target market more effectively. They can also help you refine your product and service offerings to ensure that the size of your potential customer base is sufficient to help you launch, sustain, and grow your startup.
3. The virtual assistant
You can’t be everywhere at once and it’s highly likely that there are important tasks going undone as you focus on those items that must be done right away. Using a virtual assistant can give you coverage where you are spread too thin and allow you the bandwidth to get more done in less time.
4. The web developer
With so much of today’s business conducted online, it stands to reason that the faster, more sophisticated and more user-friendly your website is, the quicker you can grow your startup. Working with a skilled web developer can help you put the vision you have for your startup into a digital marketing tool that enables you to attract, engage, and convert prospects 24/7.
5. The web traffic specialist
“If you build it, they will come,” was a great line in the movie Field of Dreams but it doesn’t work so well for websites. Especially when your website is new, using a talented specialist to generate web traffic using SEO, social media, email marketing, and other tactics can help you attract the quantity of site visitors from among your target audience that you need to grow your startup more quickly.
6. The search marketing expert
Many startups launch with thin margins and limited budgets for paid advertising – every dollar spent must count! A search marketing expert can help to ensure that when you do invest in paid search marketing such as Google AdWords, Remarketing, banner ads, social media advertising, and other PPC (pay per click) forms of search-optimized marketing, your investment is rewarded with web traffic and leads.
7. The branding expert
As with writing a business plan, the branding process is an area that many entrepreneurs skip or skim through, which can leave some pretty big holes in the marketing strategy overall. These gaps leave a lot of room for prospects to fall out of your sales funnel. A branding professional can round out the look, feel, and appeal of your brand, making it more compelling and attractive to your target audience, and giving prospects even more reasons to choose to do business with you.
8. The digital-marketing pros
Even if you spent all your time on digital marketing (which you probably can’t), you couldn’t take advantage of all of the digital marketing tools you need to effectively reach your target audience online. You can find a digital marketing professional who can help you tick off several tools (email marketing, social media marketing, content marketing) or you can work with professionals who specialize in various digital marketing tactics:
- SEO (search engine optimization) for more quality web traffic.
- Social media marketing to effectively engage your audience across a variety of social media platforms.
- Email marketing to nurture prospects, cultivate referrals, and drive repeat sales.
- Content marketing to continually add high-quality content to your website and blog, which will drive more web traffic and conversions.
You don’t have to go it alone. Your startup might be small now, but there is a big pool of expertise that you can draw on when launching your new business.
Have you recently launched a start-up? Which areas of expertise or support do you think are most vital? Leave your comment below!