The How-To: Generating Revenue As A Startup
So far, we've explored the raising of seed capital and what you and your co-founders should expect in the early days after the initial raise. For anyone with that killer idea and who is looking to raise the seed- get yourself a solid pitch deck, a good prototype and a truckload of contacts. Already raised your capital? Good job! Firstly a big congrats- but don't celebrate too quickly. The early days after the raise will require a new injection of focus and patience. Remember as an entrepreneur there is no rulebook, but following a few key basic guidelines will help you succeed. Did somebody say a sales team? Now you have the money in the bank, keys to the office and that all important finished product- it's time to make some cash.
Begin As You Mean To Go On
The first thing we need to be clear about is that not all startups will be focused on sales. If you look at some of the big boys like Instagram, Snapchat or even the early days of Facebook and Twitter- there was no revenue model or early sales. If this is the case for you, then your seed raise should reflect this, and you will have enough dollars in the bank to fund you through the early stage. Every startup is different, but in my opinion, whether the focus is to start sales from day one or to build up the user base first, getting out there and selling the brand will always be an advantage.
In my previous articles, I mentioned that there is no rulebook for being an entrepreneur; however, when it comes to sales, the basics will always apply. I am no expert in sales, but I do know that the more calls you make, the more meetings you get, and in turn, the more sales you generate. I was once told the 100,10,1 rule. Basically, one hundred calls will get you 10 meetings and result in one sale- say what! Yeah, that's what I thought. As you get better and more confident, the pitch gets cleaner, the meetings get easier and the numbers grow.
As a startup, and what I have found from personally building Brndstr, is that no one knows the product better than you. This being the case, I decided rather than bring in a sales director at day one, I'd do it myself. Bringing the first few clients onboard not only builds confidence, but it also helps to create that all-important sales material. Since my first meeting, our sales material has tweaked and been edited many times with the end result being a crisp, clean sales pitch that is easy to understand. Once you have a clear understanding on the sales flow, you can then start to recruit that salesperson to take over this arm of the business.
What about the contracts? Each startup, industry and client is different. If your service or product is pretty standard there are many templates out there, but I would always suggest that you double check with a professional. You should also already have a lawyer in place from the term sheet days- for a fee your legal counsel will always be able to draw you up a custom contract.
Basically, in summary if you know your product, have a clear sales pitch, and make the calls, the sales will come.
You've closed the final deal. Now what?
Well, first and foremost: high-five! Awesome job. Not only will you be feeling pretty pleased with yourself, but your team will be hyped and the business is officially a business. The downside is that you are going to have to do it all over again, many times, and for a longtime!
If you chose to do the sales yourself and you've got a few deals under your belt, you should start the recruitment process for a sales guru. In previous companies that I've worked for, the sales focus is usually split. Have your core bread and butter accounts that will act as your underlying sales framework in place first, then once this network is built and ticking over nicely, look for the "wishlist" accounts and the big ones that would be game changers to the business.
I can only comment on my experience from starting Brndstr, but know that by having that solid sales plan and exerting dedicated focus, you'll soon get your first account. If you followed the advice at the beginning and you have your partners in place, remember that you're not on your own- call upon your extended network, as everyone will be willing you to succeed.
Sales at the beginning is not everyone's key focus, but eventually, revenue is. By starting off on the right foot and selling your product yourself, it will only get stronger, and over time, the figures will grow.Now is your time, "treps! Sell your heart out and best of luck.