Tips for Internet Startups

While there is a lower threshold these days for starting a business online, it still isn’t as easy as the movies make it out to be. It’s still a business – you’re going to need to consider overhead costs, who to hire, what kind of profit margin you’re looking for – and if these are all things that are over your head – if you’re an “ideas man” (or woman) you’re going to have to find someone you can work with that can translate your vague goals and ideas into actionable metrics and concrete, well-articulated goals.

Find the idea

If you’re just venturing into the world of e-business, what follows is a primer of those things that you are probably going to encounter and have to consider when starting up your internet start-up.

Think Big

There are a few different facets to this concept when applied to internet start-ups. The first angle of interpretation for “thinking big” comes with branding. Branding is an integral part of your long-term strategy and can determine what markets a company eventually enters into, and succeeds, in. Branding is not the red-headed stepchild – it’s not something that you can neglect until after your first product has launched, in fact, having the proper branding and image to project to angel investors or venture capitalists can make or break the success of your first product.

And then there is the “think big” side of the product itself. I mean, look at Google – do you think they would be as successful as they are today if they set out to “organize the information of the United States”? Nope. Their mission is nothing smaller than organizing the worlds information.

Always Innovate

Internet companies never stop innovating, never stop changing or expanding. Google is constantly innovating, adding new product lines (and cutting them out if they fail). And just in the nature of the internet, there is always a greater user base, and more features that you are able to add as you proactively respond to the customer. Look at Twitter – their offering is pretty straightforward – 140 character social status updates, but what their interface encompasses keeps expanding – from picture and video integration to new profile layouts – they always strive for a better product. 

When you’re starting an internet company, be wary of the lures of monetization and hubris. A product is never the best that it can be, and while you don’t want to fall the other direction and not release a product until it’s absolutely perfect, you never want to stop making a product better, either.

Be Social

Funny we talked about Twitter in the previous section, because probably one of the most important things that a start-up can do is get the word out – and in the internet, “word of mouth” is the social sphere – Twitter, Facebook, Google+, oh my!

While these can be a time suck, getting involved can be quite key for getting the word out about your product, and creating a loyal base of early-adopter users (and actually listening to what they have to say). 

Don’t Forget There is a World Outside of Google

While you may be an internet start-up, don’t forget about traditional marketing either! While it may be less relevant for you if you don’t also have a brick-and-mortar store, neglecting other forms of advertisements is probably just as silly. GoDaddy just had a Superbowl advertisement, and they don’t have a brick-and-mortar store – they exist entirely in the cyber sphere.

You are going to want to analyze your business model and your competition and see what arenas could be most profitable for you in terms of reach. At this point in your business life cycle it may not be practical to move beyond your internet sphere, but don’t neglect traditional marketing, either.

Stay Organized

You may be the “ideas man” with grand plans, but how are you going to execute them? Do you have some sort of integrated software, or a bunch of different software programs that will help you keep your ducks (and your money) in line? Are you always late to meetings? If you really are dedicated to making your business work, that’s going to have to change – or you’re going to have to hire someone to stay organized for you, manage all your invoices and paperwork, time clocks and facilities (even if it’s just your home office).

Sarah Stevens is a writer who works most often with a company that makes sure that your company is kept running smoothly with asset management software – and she hope that if this article inspires you to create the next big thing you’ll offer her a finder’s fee!

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