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How first-time entrepreneurs can save cash: Part one

Posted date:
19/02/2016
Author:
Mitch Hills, Director

Starting your own business is an incredibly exciting process. Being an entrepreneur is one of the most interesting, exhilarating and fulfilling lines of work out there. You get to create new things, meet awesome people, learn incredibly fast and jump straight in the deep end of real-world business. But if not done efficiently, startups can be expensive (trust me, I know). So in a short series of blog posts I am going to give you some effective money-saving tips from my personal experience to help you keep as much cash in your pocket as possible.

Build an MVP before investing heavily

Right off the bat this is a huge one. An MVP stands for a Minimum Viable Product, which is a “product which has just those features and no more that allows you to ship a product that early adopters see and, at least some of whom resonate with, pay you money for, and start to give you feedback on”.

Why is it so minimal? Wouldn’t you want to add all the features you think they’d like? NO. That’s the point. You don’t know exactly what your customers want, you just know what you think they’d want, so don’t waste effort and cash on an assumption. It’s better to tailor it completely around the customer and their needs. Your time and money is severely limited, so you want the biggest bang for your buck: maximum learning with minimal effort.

By creating an MVP and getting feedback, you avoid a massive mistake that a lot of first-time entrepreneurs take: investing a lot of money into something just to find out that people don’t even want it. To be honest, I made this mistake too, although luckily people liked my app! However, there were certainly features I wouldn’t have bothered with if I did this first. Lesson learnt!

Don’t get hustled by salespeople

If you are new to business and have some money available, it’s far too easy to get ripped off. Having money but little experience can be dangerous. It's usually not your fault – you're just getting told you need all of these things from salespeople. If you’ve never done this before, you don’t know what you need. They may sell you a pretty picture of what they can do, combined with a dark and gloomy picture of what life is like without them. Ignore it. If you’re not sure and something genuinely seems like a good deal, get advice from someone with experience before you make a decision.

This is particularly important for app development. For more, check out my article Top 10 Things to Avoid When Starting an App here.

Use PR to amplify reach

PR is one of the most effective strategies out there when it comes to getting your brand into the world. You can reach tens of thousands of people and gain brand credibility for free. As good as this sounds, you still need to go about it the right way. My biggest tip for getting into the press is to tell a compelling story. Think about it – journalists, reporters, TV shows, even bloggers, their No.1 goal is to tell great stories for their audience. So you need to give them just that. Don’t just send a press kit blatantly promoting your product and how great it is. If you do that, they will send you a link to their advertising department. Richard Branson once said, ‘You can’t buy an ad on the front of Time magazine, but you can get on the front page.’ We aren’t all PR extremists like Branson but it’s a good point. You need to tell them a great story. If you are a young entrepreneur going out on your own to do a startup, you’re already on your way. Now it’s time to make it into something exciting, unique, shocking, funny or really outside the box. Whatever angle you go with, make sure it’s compelling and will make the reporter want to release a story about it.

These first three tips will save you time and money from the get-go. Remember: in the early stage businesses want to stay as lean as possible, in all areas of the business. In the next post I will give you some more golden nuggets to keep your startup efficient.  In the meantime, if you’d like to read more about startups, marketing and more, check out theexceptionsnetwork.com or let’s chat on Twitter at @mitchills. Good luck!

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