Entrepreneur Office Hours - Issue #50
Introducing "Startup Gold" - golden nuggets of brilliant startup advice
With the (US) holiday on Monday, I’ve decided to hold off on publishing a new episode of my Web Masters podcast this week. In its place, I’m experimenting with a new concept, and I need your feedback. I call the idea “Startup Gold.”
Startup Gold is an extension/spinoff of Web Masters. As you hopefully know by now, in Web Masters I tell the stories of successful Internet startups by interviewing their founders. Often, during those interviews, the entrepreneurs I’m speaking with also share valuable “nuggets” of startup advice. Unfortunately, those nuggets don’t always fit into the theme of the podcast episode, so they get left on the cutting room floor.
Considering the people I’m interviewing are entrepreneurs who have successfully sold their companies for hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars, it seems like a shame to toss all that valuable wisdom away. Instead, I’m wondering if I should share those “gold nuggets” of startup wisdom with all of you.
You’ll find the first example of one of these startup gold nuggets in an article linked below. Read it and let me know your thoughts. If you like it, I’ve literally got hundreds more and would love to share them. But, if it seems like a waste of your time, let me know that, too, and I won’t bother.
Looking forward to your feedback!
STARTUP GOLD - NUGGET #1…
Chris Jaeb, founder of Broadcast.com, which sold to Yahoo! for $5.7 billion, teaches entrepreneurs how to be more efficient.
FROM THE ARCHIVES…
Entrepreneurs often talk about wanting to be their own bosses. If that’s why you’ve decided to build a startup, be prepared for a rude awakening.
Office Hours Q&A
A partner and I have a small healthcare consulting startup. I realize it’s not the same kind of startup you normally talk about, but I feel like we deal with lots of the same kinds of issues, and I love reading your articles. So I hope you can still help us out.
We’re trying to figure out how to get more clients. Even though we’re not selling a product, we realize we need to be marketing ourselves, so my partner and I are thinking of trying to increase our social media presence mostly on sites like LinkedIn and Twitter. Maybe Instagram, too.
How would you suggest building a social media following, especially for people like us who are doing consulting work?
First of all, you’re 100% right. A consulting company still has a product, and selling that product isn’t particularly different than selling any other kind of product.
As for the best way to market that product, I’ll be the first person to tell you how important it is to cultivate a social media presence. However, I don’t want to give you false hope. Growing a social media brand for you and your consulting services is going to take a looooooong time. And by “looooooong” I mean two to four years of constant content generation before you start seeing any kinds of small results. And then another three to five years before getting any sort of results that are sustainably valuable.
Have you mentally prepared yourself for that kind of growth timeline? If not, you’d better start doing so now.
If I were you, I would definitely start working on my personal social media brand immediately precisely because it’s the kind of thing that takes lots of time. That means if you want to get value from it five years from now, you need to start working on it ASAP.
So, yes, start publishing articles on LinkedIn each week. Regularly engage with the appropriate communities on Twitter. Make sure you’re constantly commenting on the content people in your industry are posting, asking questions, and sharing insights. Also, be sure to share the things other people are posting, too. After all, everyone loves when their content is getting shared.
At the same time, don’t go overboard. There are only so many hours in a day, and you can’t fill them all by posting on Instagram and Facebook and YouTube and TikTok and Twitch. Or rather, you could post on all those platforms, but you won’t have time for any other work. Instead, be strategic. Figure out which platform (or two) provides the best connection to your target customer, and focus all your efforts there. Anything else will just waste your time.
Once you do start posting regularly on social media in order to build a brand around yourself and your consulting services, don’t expect any of your social media engagement to magically turn into new clients in the next few years.
In the short and medium term, the best way to build a client list for a consulting business is the usual process of direct networking. That includes attending as many industry events and conferences as you can in order to create lists of prospects. Then you’ll need to nurture those prospects until they’re ready to buy.
At the same time, you can use your burgeoning social media presence as a tool for nurturing prospective clients. In other words, be sure you connect with everyone you meet on LinkedIn, subscribe them to your newsletter, and keep sending them content. If you do this consistently, the people in your network will begin to recognize you as an “influencer” in your industry, and, slowly (very slowly) they’ll start reaching out with requests for help.
Just remember, there’s no such thing as an overnight success. Instead, all the marketing and brand building work you do on social media will compound over time. Stay patient, keep producing valuable content for your audience, and, eventually, you’ll start seeing results.
Got startup questions of your own? Reply to this email with whatever you want to know, and I’ll do my best to answer!