How to Run a Startup? Here’s Our 10 Business Tips after 10 Years
Brand24 has 10 years. Can you believe it? In the beginning, the Brand24 app was a free beta version. In 2011, it turned into Brand24 S.A company. We started as a small business with 4 people on board. Now we are a fully stable firm with 3800+ clients from 154 countries. The last 10 years had their ups and downs. We learned a lot! It’s time to share our business tips with you.
Whether you are a small business owner or CEO of a startup, you know that clients are most important. We create products and services to meet their needs.
Over 3,8k users use Brand24. We took a long journey to gain such a wide number of clients. In 2012 we had 100 of them. Four years later, we had 1k. Since 2016 the number of customers has been consistently growing. We are expecting that in 2022 we will exceed the number of 4000.
Each company has its own development path. Here you can see the history of Brand24:
To run a thriving startup, you need to scale. Scale products, number of team members, and of course profits.
Yet, it is not easy.
According to Embroker data, 90% of startups fail, and 10% break during the first year.
So how to minimize the risk of failure? Listen to successful entrepreneurs. Their lessons and tips will show you how to achieve business success.
So, how to run a successful business? Our 10 best business advice:
- Running a business is a marathon, not a sprint
- Done is better than perfect
- Analyze, implement conclusions, repeat
- Get to know your target customer inside out
- Give your customers something extra
- Avoid buzzwords, use language of benefits
- Acquire and appreciate customer feedback
- Always try to minimalize the churn
- Don’t avoid talking about issues among team
- Remote is more than a trend
01 Running a business is a marathon, not a sprint
As you can see, Brand24 has 10 years, about 70 employees on board, and 3800+ customers.
Some people will say it’s a great success. Some will say it’s not so impressive.
We are proud of our achievement. Instead of chasing results and numbers, we carefully implement our digital marketing strategy.
Here comes the first big business tip. Be patient.
If you think that one year is enough to become a business leader in your niche, you will be disappointed.
“Brand24 is my 6th project. I’ve been doing online business for 15 years. Many entrepreneurs forget or don’t know that running a business is a marathon, not a spring. It is a marathon where you see people pretty much at the end of the run. When they are close to success. The problem is people see the results, don’t see the struggles. Media show stories like “yesterday he was a student, today he is a millionaire.” But establishing a valuable business takes a lot of time.”Michał Sadowski, CEO of Brand24
With the Brand24 tool, you can monitor keywords & brand mentions, track competitors and take care of your online reputation.
02 Done is better than perfect
The first impression indeed is important. That’s why so many entrepreneurs wait too long to launch the product or service.
They polish the product and ask themselves, “Is it good enough?”. And that’s a mistake.
Not launching soon enough distances you from success.
“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched it too late.”Reid Hoffman, The Founder of LinkedIn
Take your product as soon as possible and present it to potential clients. So you’ll be able to verify the idea with real customers’ needs.
Just create an MVP or even a clickable mockup (in a tool like Invision). Then show it to customers and gather the feedback. So, you’ll be ready to improve it and deliver a higher value on the market.
03 Analyze, implement conclusions, repeat
It might sound boring, but it is an excellent idea to implement analytics.
Analytics determine the life or death of the business at the early stage. It’s worth tracking the sales or conversion funnel.
With this data, you can:
- Track how many of the potential clients actually purchase the product or service
- Discover on which step you lose customers
- Find why you lose customers
- Discover which parts of the website are problematic
- Raise the ROI metric
Please don’t correlate analytics with hard-to-read Excel files. Nowadays, we have a lot of excellent tools that present data in a friendly way. You can use Google Analytics, Hotjar, or Heap to measure the effectiveness of your sales and marketing efforts.
But what about direct traffic? I guess in your Google Analytics, you see that it’s about 30% of the whole traffic. This means that people visit your platform directly.
Who are they? It could be your customers or people who heard about your business organically through online not-linked mentions.
You can track those brand mentions by using a media monitoring tool. Such a tool (like Brand24) will allow you to monitor social media, newsletters, podcasts, news websites, and many more sources. It is also an excellent way to get to know your target audience better.
Analytics should become a friend for small business owners that want to develop their companies.
04 Get to know your target customer inside out
Who is your target audience? This question may sound easy. But the answer may be more difficult as you think.
We also thought that we knew who our customers were. The perspective changed at the day we formed a document called “Go To Market Strategy.” Where we precisely described niche, ideal client profile, and buyer personas.
Such documents need to contain deep insights.
So, we conducted 20 long, valuable conversations with our existing clients. Also, we asked people who tried a free trial why they didn’t buy access to Brand24.
The conclusions were surprising.
Now we know better what kind of content should we publish on our blog, in which direction the product should evolve and how to talk with clients. In short, we know how to improve and develop our business.
05 Give your customers something extra
Online competition is quite high nowadays.
Do you know why most of the startups active for three to five years fail? Statistics show that competitors are the reason.
After 3-5 years of business presence, companies have developed products. It’s easy to lose the guard, thinking everything is just fine.
Yet, your entrepreneurial journey does not have to turn into a business fail.
Our advice is to create a unique value proposition for your customers and build an advantage. Think about something extra that will keep them for a long time.
While running a media monitoring business, we noticed that our clients need more data insights. In 2021 we launched a new service called Custom Reports.
It’s addressed to those clients that require more conclusions and need to present data to their managers, investors, etc. Our analysis team creates dedicated reports and turns online data provided by the Brand24 app into insights.
Remember, don’t try too hard to be unique. Here’s a business tip from our CEO:
“I can see the expectation from media and other startups founders to be the game-changing company, to be a unique business idea to inspire. But it is not necessarily a good patch for your own business. Sometimes you just have to solve existing problems a little better than other solutions.”
Michał Sadowski, CEO of Brand24
Set up a media monitoring tool and track what consumers are saying about your product!
06 Avoid buzzwords, use language of benefits
Buzzwords are everywhere. We see them all the time. They are present on billboards, social media posts, online & TV ads.
But do fancy buzzwords work? Not anymore.
Nowadays, people face overstimulation. Their minds do not want to waste energy analyzing too complicated slogans.
That’s why you should avoid buzzwords in your marketing communication. Instead, use words that show the actual value of the product/service.
In the beginning, we also made this mistake. We called the Brand24 app “social media analytics” or “social media marketing platform.”
Now we say, “Brand24 will let you know when people mention your business on the Internet“. Much better, isn’t it?
Business leaders already know that simple sentences are the key to success. So Starbucks uses the slogan “The best coffee and espresso drinks”, while Ikea positions as “Home Furniture, Décor & Outdoors”.
07 Acquire and appreciate customer feedback
The next business tip is mainly dedicated to small business owners that develop their products and services. Be open to customers’ opinions.
So don’t be scared. Allow your clients to give feedback.
When you start a company, you don’t know which slogans, key values, features will resonate the best with customers.
But you need to know it well to achieve success. Who can tell you more than your clients?
Yet, sometimes it’s not easy to gain feedback. Especially when you run a small business. In that case, you’ll have to rely on analytics and draw conclusions on your own.
The second way is to engage your clients. You can do it through marketing automation platforms (Intercom, User.com) or live chat software.
Once you do that, all your (current and future) customers are just one click away from contacting you.
The rule is simple, the more conversations with customers, the higher sales. When we implemented the live chat feature on our website, the number of conversations tripled.
08 Always try to minimalize the churn
Among all the business tips gathered in this article, this one is one of the most important. At Brand24, we are trying to lower the churn as much as possible.
Churn means customers resign from your service. There are many reasons why they do that. You should find those reasons and eliminate them.
Remember, on the other side of the screen, there is a human. Clients have their own tasks and goals.
Our Customer Success team analyzes what those goals are and how we can together meet them. To be honest, building a friendly and long-term relationship with a client is a never-ending process.
We also have an internal codex with good practices of customer service.
But that’s not everything.
The product needs to meet the customers’ needs. Our Customers Success specialists forward clients’ product tips to the IT team. Then we select those most accurate suggestions. That’s how we improve the Brand24 app.
Our efforts pay off. In 2021, we noted the lower number of clients resignations ever.
09 Don’t avoid talking about issues among team
The team is the heart of every business. Employees turnover hinders growth. So our next business tip is to talk with employees not only about strategies, tasks, and goals but also about their issues.
That advice can be beneficial for small business owners that feel resistant to share key duties with employees. Talk with your team, get to know their struggles, and help them to overcome them. It will be much easier for you to trust them.
At Brand24, we have retro meetings once every month. During such meetings, we discuss what made us mad, sad, and glad. Fortunately, glad situations are the most common 🙂 You can conduct such sessions by using the Miro tool, as we do.
Of course, not everyone might be willing to share thoughts in front of other people.
That’s why our HR department, conducted an anonymous (and extended) survey lately. The goal was to analyze employee morale. We had a chance to judge the atmosphere, benefits, scope of duties, and supervisors.
This survey will help us to boost our team satisfaction.
10 Remote is more than a trend
Everyone who runs a business knows that separating work from personal life is challenging, especially while working remotely. And we all had to face this challenge in 2020 when we were forced to work from our homes.
Luckily, our crew quickly adapted to the new environment.
Now, Brand24’s team can choose whether they prefer to work from the office or home. We believe that it is 100% possible to work remotely and be as productive as in the office. Some of our team members say that they are even more effective.
Did you check how many job offers are available for remote workers lately? A lot and the number is growing. It is a great chance for your business. You can hire specialists from all over the world and reduce the costs of the office.
In case of hiring many people remotely, we recommend you create an integration strategy. We are still working on it, but we know it’s necessary to keep a friendly team spirit among teams.
Use Brand24 to analyze the volume of mentions and the sentiment around your brand.
Are those all the business tips we can give you?
Of course, we can give you more. You might not know that, but our CEO Michał Sadowski willingly shares his thoughts and lessons he learned while running our startup.
So, if you would like to deepen your knowledge and listen to more business tips, we can share a YouTube video with you:
What are the best tips for business success? Conclusion:
Among Internet search results, you’ll find various business tips. That’s because there is no one universal recipe for improving an online company or startup.
In this article, we presented 10 tips based on our 10 years of market presence. Which one is the best business tip for you? That’s the question you need to answer by yourself.
Even the best business requires constant development and effort. The way of your company’s growth is up to you.
You don’t have to implement all of our tips. First, analyze your current business needs and goals. Then choose those tips that are related to them.
One of the best business tips we can give you is that learning from others is always a good idea. To know more about how to run a successful business, check our blog.