Startups primary focus is customer acquisition. This happens by refining the customer persona, defining and branding positioning statement and responding to the customer buying cycle. You lean this by engaging with customers. Working on brand comes second.
I love the disclaimer that “past performance is not necessarily an indicator of future gain” that is often affixed to advice or information from investment houses. Because it’s just that, a disclaimer. I get a chuckle out of it. The goal of most business owners is to do the opposite. To find a way to integrate lessons learned into their business models and build positive momentum towards future gains. And yes, if you find a way to do that consistently then everyone does come along – customers, investors, and the best talent – regardless of the disclaimer.
One thing I recommend founders to do is to think of the company as being a portfolio of projects, and the founder as being the strategic owner of this portfolio. Each specific product or service that the company is offering is a project in the portfolio that sits under the umbrella of the company. Then they can look at the maturity level of each project and the company itself. For example, a company that is offering a service to a customer base and at the same time is thinking of how they can translate that service into a SaaS product offering, may already have a good problem/market fit for the company itself, be in efficiency in terms of delivering the service and be just starting validation for the SaaS service.
When most people speak about a Startup’s funding approach as “bootstrapping”, they often are referring to the Founders putting some time and capital into the company. This is actually an incorrect use of the term in Startup “speak”, as that Founder input is still an investment. And though it’s usual that Founders put some cash into their companies or minimally defer taking anything out, it’s still actually investment. Just not an external investment. It is a type of Seed Funding.
Building a startup team based on skills is a lot like the casting activity in the film industry. Those responsible for casting a movie will look at the character in the plot, and try to find actors that they know have the ability to play the role. Though there is also a secondary look at how these actors look together on film, their onscreen chemistry. So the casting activity is actually a casting of the ensemble, not just the individual actors.
A key business performance metric for startups to track is the months of available cash in the bank. Whether that cash has come out of the pockets of the founders, borrowings or seed funding doesn’t really matter, a key metric for your regular financial report is how the company is using this money and when the money might run out.