There's only one way to start. And that's to start.
Take your product or business from idea to launch in just 8 hours with this free audio guide.
Featuring Chris Ducker, Ash Maurya, Adam Farah and more PLUS free templates and resources to help you every step of the way.
Today isn't the day for excuses.
Brought to you in partnership with AWeber, XERO and Ignite Accelerator.
Choosing the Life with Chris Ducker
Expert Guest: Chris Ducker (ChrisDucker.com)
Key Learning Point: In this session, you will learn if this entrepreneurial life is really for you - the reality of living the life.
Free Resource: The 14 Day Guide to Cutting Your Working Hours & Increasing your Impact
When thinking about the life of an entrepreneur, it’s natural to focus on the positives – creating and growing a business you really care about, serving customers and the community and making all of the decisions yourself. As great as all of those are, there are also less positive, and downright negative, aspects of going it alone and starting your own business. Is it really the life for you?
Chris Ducker joins us to share his story of building his businesses as well as the reality of living the life of an entrepreneur. Chris has built several extremely successful companies but he has also experienced one of the most common health issues for entrepreneurs – burnout.
When it is only us steering the ship, superhero syndrome can set in. We feel that we must take care of every little detail and decision in order to make or business succeed. This can lead to working far too hard and far too long each day. The cumulative fatigue can take a horrible toll on both health and relationships. This situation can be exacerbated if outside investors are involved. The high standards set by our ego can be elevated even higher by the level of expectation of others. It can be a recipe for disaster.
Identifying which areas of the business need your full attention and which tasks can be delegated is a good way of alleviating a great deal of pressure. If your business grows as you would like it to, there will come a day when delegation is necessary. It is better to learn this earlier in your entrepreneurial journey, than after a burning out completely!
Surrounding yourself with the right people will help enormously with reducing some of the difficulties that come with running your own business. Expand your network as much as possible when starting your business. Doing so will help you make the right type of friendships and find the right kind of opportunities. Meeting and spending time with other entrepreneurs in the community is so important. You can share experiences and information that will help you succeed as well as developing great friendships.
In this lifestyle, you will lose the wrong kind of friends. Those who might doubt you or hold you back, those who don’t agree with your dreams or those who don’t use their time well.
In order to succeed, you need to believe in yourself and erase any self-doubt that you might have. It comes to all of us at one point or another, but learn not to dwell on it. Focusing on your past achievements is a good way to dispel negative thoughts. Don’t worry what others think; if you are passionate about creating your business and prepared to put in the work, then go for it.
The entrepreneurial life is not for the faint-hearted. It can get tough and it requires a lot of hard work. The main issue with a lot of those who start businesses, particularly those who have other work or are ‘sidepreneurs’, is a lack of focus or casting too wide a net. Before getting started, think deeply about how much time and energy you can devote to your business and a very specific problem that you want to solve.
If you have thought long and hard, considered the negative as well as the positives, and just have to scratch that itch, then the life of an entrepreneur may well be for you. Be prepared to work hard, surround yourself with the right people and...
The Importance of the Customer Conversation with Mark Asquith
Expert Guest: Mark Asquith (Excellence-Expected.com)
Key Learning Point: In this session, you will learn what the market really needs and wants as well as how to define your ideal customer.
Free Resource: Avatar Creation Template
For those looking at a successful business from the outside, it is easy to think that the idea is all important, and if people can generate great ideas, they will succeed. If only it were that simple! As entrepreneurs, we know that we need to dig deeper, to make sure that we are spending time on the ideas with the best chance of success in the market we want to enter. How can we best test our ideas before creating our product or service?
It all comes down to having meaningful customer conversations.
Why should we have customer conversations?
Customer conversations can let us know if there is an audience out there for what we want to provide. They can tell us if the problem we aim to solve matters enough for people to want to pay for, not only a solution but our solution. And they can also give us valuable feedback that can be used to change and tweak our product to increase its impact.
These conversations are massive opportunities to learn about your idea, your potential customers and what people want. Therefore, they need to be approached with an open mind and we need to ask the right questions in the right way.
Understandably, we often become somewhat obsessed with our ideas, they can become our ‘baby’. This can subconsciously make us biased, defensive and close-minded when looking for feedback. In turn, this will affect how we conduct customer conversations. We might ask closed questions such as, “Do you like my idea?” (Everyone will say, “Yes!”), or attach more importance to positive feedback while ignoring the negative.
Entering in a customer conversation with a learning mind-set as opposed to a pitching mind-set will allow you to gather so much more valuable information about your customers, their desires and marketplace. Remember, we need to solve one problem extremely well and the best way to make your idea the best it can be is to learn from potential customers.
Perhaps you will find out that the problem your idea solves doesn't matter enough for it to be a viable product. You may find that it does, but people prefer a different solution to yours. You may find that the most receptive audience isn’t the one you originally targeted. Whatever you find out will be extremely valuable in the process of moving your idea forward.
Who are we having customer conversations with?
Crafting an audience avatar or customer persona is vital before getting into customer conversations. This ideal representation of the perfect customer can help us align ourselves with our customers and find out what motivates them. Who am I speaking to? Who will benefit from this product?
We can keep this person in mind when we make any decisions related to the product. Speaking with all kinds of people at random will not yield the effective research and valuable insights that speaking with a representation of your carefully crafted avatar will.
The avatar is a deeper representation than simply a person’s gender, age or background. ‘Male, 18-35, Single’ is a demographic and not an effective avatar. We need to be empathetic and learn about behaviours, ethics, values, traits, difficulties and more. We need to learn what makes our potential customer tick. This will inform everything from marketing and design to brand identity and customer service.
Nailing down an avatar is so crucial in the early days and is covered in more detail in the free Avatar Resource Template resource.
Bootstrap Branding with Phil Pallen & Kyle Wilkinson
Expert Guests: Phil Pallen (PhilPallen.com) & Kyle Wilkinson (KyleWilkinson.co.uk)
KLP: In this session, you will learn how to create a brand that talks directly to your ideal customer and why this is so important.
Free Resource: Brand Briefing Template
When it comes to branding, there are a couple of common misconceptions that are important to dispel. Firstly, branding is so much more than just your logo and letterhead. Branding goes far beyond the visual assets of your business and goes deeper into who you are as an entrepreneur. Another big misapprehension is that branding needs to hugely costly.
Two people who know all about the importance of effective branding, as well as how to get started in the early days, are Kyle Wilkinson and Phil Pallen.
What is a brand then? A brand is not just a logo and the visual assets used by a business. These are just the visual extension of the brand. The brand is the core principles, values and outlook of the business. Think of some of your favourite brands and what comes to mind when you think of them. Most likely, more will come to mind than just the logo. This is because the idea of brand goes deeper and tells you something of the company’s values and principles.
This connection between the customer and the core principles of the brand is really important and it is often achieved through storytelling. We like to learn how businesses were created, who founded them and the journey that led to their formation. Through these stories we learn the values that are associated with the brand and whether or not that resonates with us as customers. People buy from people and this human element allows us to connect more deeply with a brand whose story we know. It’s vital, therefore, when thinking of your own business, to build your story into the brand.
When launching a business, it is important to get the branding right as making the correct first impression is crucial. Amateurish branding can cost the trust of potential clients so it is important to treat your branding just how big companies treat theirs. This may sound expensive but there are steps you can take to get the ball rolling on your branding without spending a huge amount.
Kyle & Phil’s Top Branding Tips
Start a Pinterest board. Start curating content that speaks to you. Photographs, advertising, various colours – these can all be helpful in letting you know which visuals best represent your values. Add to it every day and you will soon see patterns and trends that can be used to create your own brand.
Take photographs. Take snaps of things that inspire you, things that create an emotive response and things that demand you know more about them. Ask yourself how these things capture your attention and your imagination. The answers to these questions can help you create the same feelings with your brand.
Build up a colour palette. Use your Pinterest board and your photographs to hone in on some colours that speak to you or represent your idea of your brand. Use Adobe Color to check out some interesting colour combinations.
Don’t rush the process. Don’t limit yourself to one day or one week. Rushing will only limit your thinking and minimize possibilities. Take your time and you will be able to understand yourself and your brand better. If you rush in, you could regret some decisions that might be costly to fix later on.
Find the right designer. Your brand is important to your business so you should make sure that if you work with a designer, it’s a good fit for both of you.
Measuring What Matters with Ash Maurya
Expert Guest: Ash Maurya (LeanStack.com)
Key Learning Point: In this session, you will learn how to define and measure what really matters for the growth of your product.
Free Resource: Results Analysis
We live in a world where access to huge amounts of data about our businesses is just a click away. In fact, these days, there is so information that it can be difficult to know what to focus on. We can get caught up trying to measure too many things at once and this can lead to paralysis by analysis. We could also be focusing on the wrong information and be flattering ourselves with numbers that look great, but don’t accurately reflect our performance.
Ash Maurya joins us to explain how to define and measure what really matters for the growth of your business. When starting out, we need to know what to measure to determine whether or not we are on track and making progress. Very often there is just one specific key performance indicator, or KPI, that can be used to determine if your business is on the right track or not.
When determining which KPI this should be, we need to be careful not to choose vanity metrics. These are the metrics that make your business look good, but do not tell the whole story. They could be web hits or number of downloads. Perhaps in your case you measure the amount of cumulative sign-ups to your website. If people sign up every month, you will see that the cumulative total increases every month. This feels good, but it is not the best way to measure success.
To make this an actionable metric, you could look more closely at the weekly or monthly sign-up rate. Or you could investigate how many people visit the site and how many sign up. Perhaps of every 100 people who visit the site, 30% sign up. This is a great actionable metric that you can use to increase sign-ups. These figures can help you devise strategies to get to 40%.
Using the wrong KPIs to measure the performance of your business is like taking a road trip without using a map or any other navigational equipment. As the miles pass by, you have no idea if you are heading the right direction.
We need to start at a macro level. Zone in on the one KPI that can tell you about your business’s performance. This is the one actionable metric that you would take to stakeholders or investors to give them an indication of how things were going. What this is metric is depends on your business.
For many small businesses, this would be transactional in nature. We would make a sale to a customer. This is the single actor business model. Digging down deeper in the data, we could see our customer retention rate, referral rate, product return rate and so on. But, the one overarching KPI would be transactions.
For a multi-sided business such as Twitter or Facebook, things would be slightly different. Users do not pay to use the services, so the companies want to monetize their active users, usually by selling advertising space targeted towards specific groups. A key KPI for this type of business would be daily or monthly active users. User sign-ups would be a vanity metric in this case, as advertisers want to know how many people their ads are reaching, not how many people are signed up to the service. A marketplace type business such as Airbnb or Uber, which brings providers and customers together, would see how many rooms rented or journeys completed as their key KPI.
Vanity metrics do have a place, perhaps when looking for investment or to celebrate certain milestones, but for the day-to-day operations of small businesses,
Blu-Tack & Sellotape, Building Your Product with Adam Farah
Expert Guest: Adam Farah (ZazuAfrica.com)
KLP: In this session, you will learn if how to build your product on a budget and market test it without overspending.
Free Resource: Product Development Planner
Developing a brand new product from scratch can be a costly and time-consuming process. Thanks to modern technology, however, we can now use lots of online resources and apps to prove a business concept without having to sink a great deal of time and money into its development.
Adam Farah joins us to discuss his experiences of developing two different products in two very different ways. Cavalry, a roadside assistance app, was built from the ground up over the course of a year and landed a coveted spot on the Ignite accelerator program. However, Adam admits that during the development of the app, he was building what he wanted, and what he thought customers wanted, rather than what they actually wanted. It was development based on assumptions rather than real-world tests. That idea was shelved and in hardly any time at all, Pip™ was born.
Adam and I quickly developed the idea of a concierge service in the form of an invisible app. This time around, the customer conversation was vital to the development process. We spoke to as many people as we could and validated the idea. Rather than try to build an app that would take care of everything, we focused on one key event that would be applicable to everyone – birthdays and how not to forget them.
Rather than code something from scratch, Adam looked to freely available resources that could help us validate the new idea at the minimum cost. First, he used Zapier to link other apps into a process flow. This would allow information on customers’ important birthdays would automatically get logged in a calendar and their message would appear on Slack. After speaking nicely to Twilio to get some free credits, we could then text those customers back.
The response from customers, as well as growth, was phenomenal. In almost no time at all, we had validated an idea with no outlay whatsoever. Very soon, the version of Pip that we had put together using free tools had even started generating revenue.
We’d validated the idea through meaningful customer conversations with a carefully crafted avatar. We then produced a minimal viable product using freely available resources. This MVP then allowed us to test a single base assumption: Would people trust us enough to give us the information we needed to provide them with value? It turns that they did, which then allowed us to track a single KPI that would indicate how well the product was doing. Simple steps that will help direct the next stage of the process.
Progress is often hindered by the search for perfection. But we can learn so much more about ourselves, our products and our customers if we have an imperfect product out there, than a perfect idea still sitting on the drawing board. The feedback from customers can even change what your product can or should be.
That’s why it is all important to get something out into the world. And now, with the tools available to everyone, you can get your MVP online with minimal technical know-how and at very little cost.
* Cavalry (http://cavalryapp.com/)
* Pip™ (https://allowpip.com/beta/)
* Zazu Africa (https://zazuafrica.com/)
* Rob Fitzpatrick, The Mom Test (gl/cXKtxG)
Creating the Perfect Media Launch Plan with Ayelet Noff
Expert Guest: Ayelet Noff (Blonde20.com)
Key Learning Point: In this session, you will learn how to create a media launch plan that generate real results!
Free Resource: Media Targeting Planner
The attention of consumers is at an all-time premium. There are so many product launches, marketing campaigns and different media outlets vying for our consideration. So, when it comes to the launch of your first product, how best to stand out, attract the attention of the right people and make a lasting impression?
Ayelet Noff, the founder of award winning global PR agency Blonde 2.0, joins us to share her tips for launching a product in the best way for the maximum impact. Throughout her career, Ayelet has helped startups tell their story to the world, and making an impactful first impression is all about that story.
In order to craft the story that you will tell the rest of the world you need to be very clear on which problem your product or service is solving, who your main competitors will be and what makes your solution better than theirs. Only by clarifying your point of differentiation, and telling your story in a unique and compelling way, will you attract the attention of journalists or influencers who could really help spread the word.
There are some great solutions to really common problems out there, but if the founders haven’t been able to nail down what makes them better than the rest, or they haven’t been able to present their story in an interesting new way, then they won’t have stood out and demanded attention. Getting it right can even get important influencers on your side before launch, or even during development. Doing so can be a great bonus as they can act as evangelists for your product when it is released.
A great example of this is Blonde 2.0’s work with single tap, zero character communication app, Yo!. Ayelet and her team got the app in front of the hugely influential Robert Scoble, whose evangelism, as well as the divisive nature of the app, helped make Yo! a big talking point around its launch. Some thought it was revolutionary, others that it was a bit silly, but all the major tech media outlets were discussing it.
Every niche has its own influencers that, while perhaps not as globally well known as Robert Scoble, command a lot of respect and attention from a particular sector. Getting to know such people and telling them your product’s story can be a great help further down the line. Being open and reciprocal with your time can help build great relationships in your niche.
The best way to grab the attention of such influencers, or journalist covering your sector, is to send them a short, succinct pitch e-mail that sums up your product, its story, the problem it solves and what makes it better than the competition. You can personalise these messages with something that will speak personally to that person or about events taking place in your sector at the time. Most importantly, the message should be simple and in plain English.
If you can start getting some traction with some journalists or big names in your field, then you can start coordinating that with other methods of publicising your product, which fall into different pillars of the PESO PR model. This will help organise your overall PR strategy.
The model breaks down into the following:
* Paid – Any publicity or advertising that is paid for. Google Ads, Facebook Ads, etc.
* Earned – Any publicity that you have earned. For example, you have an influencer on your side because they really like the product,