Startups and the Problems They Face

Just this month, Orly Zeewy, published a very practical book entitled Ready, Launch, Brand: The Lean Marketing Guide for Startups that shows you how to close the marketing gaps that can slow down sales and make it harder to scale your business. When I spoke with Orly this past week, I asked her:  "What are the greatest obstacles that startups face when trying to scale their businesses?" Here is her response:

To quote author Seth Godin, "In a crowded marketing place, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.”

Startups typically think of scaling as something that will happen magically if only they work hard enough and do great work. But scaling your business has less to do with magic and more to do with following the three pillars of brand building.

1.       Who Are You? If you can’t answer this question, no one else can. Founders have a unique opportunity at the start of their company to get clear on their brand’s value proposition—the one thing they offer that no one else can. But when asked about their company, they typically talk about what they do but almost never about why they do it. According to author Simon Sinek, customers buy based on the why, not the what. It’s the reason that Apple is still a leader in computer sales. Think different is not just a tagline, it’s the reason they exist.

2.       Do You Have The Right Team? Building a team is key to scaling because no founder can scale on their own. If you don’t have a clear vision, building your team becomes a game of chance that you’ll find “the right people.” A clear vision helps you identify people who not only “get it” but who are passionate about your startup. They believe what you believe and that’s a powerful incentive to join. It also turns out that having the wrong team is the #3 reason that startups fail.

3.       Are You Attracting The Right Customers? This critical pillar of brand building is a hard one for many founders to commit to. In the early days of their startup, they are focused on keeping the lights on so any customer is the right one. So, instead of scaling with ideal customers who will refer other ideal customers, you’re trying to build brand loyalty with customers who are not invested in what you offer. It’s hard to scale when you’re not clear on who your ideal customer is and why you matter to them.

What do you think of Orly's perspective on brand building? Have you tried scaling a small business? What were the main problems that you experienced?