Startup Tips: 5 Lessons for Early Stage Startups

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It’s taken us five years to build what Instamojo is today, and we’ve had our fair share of learnings over the course. We decided to pen some startup tips for the benefit of the new business owners or early-stage startups. Of course, these ideas may not apply to every business out there, but they’ll definitely help you focus on the right areas.

Startup Tip 1: Personify your Target Audience: Define your Market

Spend time getting to know who your target audience is. If you haven’t spent time obsessing over this, it’s likely that your goals are confused too.

Go beyond typical attributes like ‘who’, ‘how’, ‘where’. Understand their interests, hobbies, likes, dislikes. Ask yourself questions like:

What are they afraid of?

What/who do they trust?

What do they use currently?

What will make them switch? 

Use existing data available to see trends, understand your niche and position yourself accordingly.

Half the battle is won if you’ve clearly defined who you’re targeting. If you’re confused about that, your target audience won’t identify with you either. Therefore, spending time to understand this audience is worth it! 

If you’re an early stage startup, chances are that there are multiple players in the space! Do your research, understand what sets you apart and position yourself accordingly.

Startup Tip 2: The Business Model & Marketing Budget

Keep the two separate. To acquire users, fix a budget and stick to it! Marketing spends and discounts shouldn’t be your only source of user acquisition or retention.

Here’s a two-fold approach to check if you’re making the same mistake:  

User acquisition:

Run quarterly experiments by stopping marketing activity to see if you’re being able to organically acquire the same number of users. If you don’t see a drastic dip (typically 10-15%), you’re on the right track and should give you more confidence in business. If you see a sharp decline, it’s good to go back to the drawing board and see what you can do differently.

Retention:

If you’re running incentives or offering discounts to your users, slowly cut-back to see how much of a difference it makes. It’ll give you a sense of how much value you’re adding and the scope of how much you can get away with!

Startup Tip 3: Great support = Excellent Retention + Free PR

The above is fairly self-explanatory.

Let your customers become your evangelists. Nothing works better than word-of-mouth. Use your support data to identify your best customers who are likely to refer your product to their network. Chances are, the better your support, the lesser you’ll have to incentivize your users to talk about it!

Create a comprehensive support-base and explore alternate ways to serve your users better and more efficiently. If you aren’t active on social media, get on it NOW to see what people have to say about your brand.

Learning how to deal with criticism in the early days goes a long way!

Startup Tip 4: The Life & Lifetime Value of your customers

LTV is important in determining the payback or break-even period of your marketing spends, and how much you can spend on acquiring each customer. But more importantly, it tells you how your customers evolve. It’ll determine how long they stick with you and help you identify possible reasons for it.

Use these learnings to create the roadmap and strategy for your product.

Startup Tip 5: The silent killers – Your users know best!

Interact with your users to understand how and why they use your product or service. For all you know, you might be solving another problem for them, which you didn’t know of!

Sometimes, you just need a fresh perspective, which you have to look for outside the company. Talk to your customers. OFTEN.

Similarly, you might not realize smaller problems in your product. These are what we call ‘silent killers’. They aren’t big enough for users to complain about, but can slowly make them leave!

You’ll be surprised how small fixes in the product, create a large impact. You’ll only know once you get to identify them. 

Looking for the best way to collect payments from your customers? Consider Instamojo, a free payment gateway that can not only help you get started with online payments but also comes loaded with several business features like a simple dashboard and easy sales reports, data reports, etc.

More than 10,00000 small business use Instamojo. You can too!


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