4 Strategies for Skipping the VC Dog-and-Pony Show So You Really Own Your Company
Are you looking for ways to grow your business without raising VC funding? In this digital era, you don’t necessarily need to raise a lot of money to get your startup off the ground. In fact, raising money can become a distraction, often taking you away from what really matters -- building a profitable company.
If you thought building a company is only possible by conducting a round of fundraising, think again. Here are some strategies that will help you build and grow a startup successfully without VC funding.
1. Create a minimum viable product.
Creating a minimum viable product is a great way to kick off your product idea with ease and get early feedback from customers. With your MVP, the key is to deliver acceptable value by offering only an adequate number features to a small segment of your ideal customers to get feedback for future development.
If you try to satisfy your entire customer population in your MVP, you're missing the point. For example, in the early days of Facebook, it focused on schools and universities before opening the platform to everyone. Similarly, when Uber started, it targeted only city commuters before adding features for other customer segments.
To create an MVP, you can start by asking the following questions.
For whom are you adding value?
What are the core features you want to add?
How will they benefit your early customers?
The best thing about creating an MVP is that it allows you to minimize risk by validating your product idea with minimal investment. It’s usually fast and relatively inexpensive to get started.
2. Avoid the perfection dilemma.
Most entrepreneurs get stuck in the perfection dilemma. Due to the fact, they spend months if not years perfecting that product without ever showing the product to a prospective customer.
In your early days, keep in mind that perfection can be a curse. Focusing too much on perfection can cause you to miss deadlines, which leads to unhappy customers and slow growth.
Instead, launch and market the potential power of your product. As you gain valuable customer feedback, you can iterate and improve your product.
3. Take advantage of free.
It is vital to invest in the right tools to speed up the growth of your startup. As a boot-strapped business, you’ll be on a tight budget. For that reason, you might want to make use of free tools available out there at least when you’re starting out.
If the tool you’re interested in doesn’t offer a free plan, you can sign up for a free trial. Then hustle to make your first sale before the trial expires.
Email marketing: MailChimp
Invoicing: Free Invoice Generator
PR tool: HARO (Help a Reporter Out)
You can also try asking for a review copy in exchange for a testimonial or another service. This can be a great strategy to try products, especially if you’re dealing with another startup.
4. Build some social proof.
When a prospective customer lands on your website, they don’t know whether your product is worth their money and time. To convince them to give your product a try, you need to build social proof around your business. In fact, 63 percent of customers are more likely to purchase a product if it has some social proof.
One of the easiest ways to build some social proof is by giving away your product for free in exchange for testimonials. With social proof, you can guide confused customers toward making a purchasing decision. To build social proof, there are a few things you need to consider:
Get testimonials; look for people who have a large network of contacts and convince them to try your product for free.
Build relationships with influencers, especially bloggers and YouTube personalities.
Incorporate a PR strategy in your marketing plan to get media attention.
Publish guest articles and build an authority in your niche circles.
I am a living proof of evidence that successful business can be built with little to no funding. With the right strategies in place, it is totally possible to build and grow a successful business.