7 ways you can help a startup survive and grow!
Five …let’s make that six … years ago I turned my back on a nice, safe, nine-to-five salary-paying job and instead followed my heart (and, I still like to think, my head), starting a social enterprise to create clothes that improve patients’ mental and physical wellbeing.
Inspired by personal experiences of being hospitalised and receiving medical treatment at home, I had (and still have) a deep conviction that clothes providing dignity and comfort can significantly improve the lives of those affected by ill-health. That determination alone has kept me going, but the fact that INGA Wellbeing now offers a collection of classically styled adapted tops, trousers and dresses for adults is in large part due to the support of my, and my colleagues’, friends and family and their friends and family … and their friends and family … and so on! If it takes a village to raise a child, then the truism for launching a company must surely be ‘it takes several cities to create a successful startup’!!
Having benefited from so much help already … and in the hope of encouraging still more … I thought I would share seven ways that you can support a startup that you believe in. Because INGA Wellbeing, like all startups (and like all children) needs A LOT of support: from taking its’ first wobbly steps in the market; to learning the ABCs of business; and navigating an awkward stop/start growth phase, before finally – hopefully! – striding out into the big, wide world powered only by itself!
So, with grateful thanks to our past cheerleaders and with an earnest plea for more recruits and louder voices … here are my tips for supporting any and all startups whose product or services YOU think the world could do with now … and in the future!
1. Follow startups on social media AND like and share their posts.
Thanks to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google and other social media and digital platforms, your seemingly ‘little’ voice and preferences is amplified via your social media groups and own followers. Though you will not want (and we do not expect) you to like and share every one of our posts, by doing so every now and again you will help to spread the word and achieve a vital multiplier effect for us. Clever algorithms are watching and counting what websites and social media accounts have the most activity and the more visitors and likes we have, the higher we will come in web searches … hopefully, then resulting in sales. So, if we write something or post a video or photo that you like, then please do show us and others! Then we’ll know what kind of things you like to get from us and can get improve. Consider yourself part of our marketing team!
2. Talk about/be an ambassador for startups’ products/services
Nothing is as powerful as a personal recommendation! Talking passionately about the things you care about makes others take notice. Chatting over dinner with friends about the startup you are interested in, or sending an email with a link to the website to those that could benefit from its’ products or services is likely to make a big impression. You could also write a personal post on social media – a sort of public service announcement!
3. Vote for your favourite startup in online competitions.
It literally takes two minutes of your time … sometimes less … but in the constant battle for funding and attention that determines the existence and future of startups, getting votes in competitions could mean the difference between life and death. Winning these competitions can open vital doors to clients and investors and provides important credibility so often it is not the advertised prize that is the ultimate prize! While we know there are many requests for your votes, it costs you very little – only the smallest amount of time – and every vote is precious for the entrepreneur. Indeed in those dark days when entrepreneurs doubt why on earth they started their mad folly, those votes can keep them going!
4. Buy/Use the product/service for yourself/loved ones/friends
Of course, nothing warms an entrepreneur’s heart and helps them in their business cases for future investment, than actual sales! You just can’t beat the ‘ker-ching’ of a real sales transaction. I would have put this as the number one way you can help a startup except, in reality, just because you support a startup’s concept, you might not necessarily need their product or service yourself. But perhaps a friend or family would, in which case perhaps you could gift it? In a startup’s world, sales are golden!
5. Write reviews of the product for Facebook, Amazon etc
And, once you have bought the product or service – and, if indeed, it lives up to expectations – then tell the world and let others benefit from the reassurance of knowing that pioneers have gone before them: bought and been delighted! Send the company a review they can use on their website; write a Facebook review or post a review on Amazon or whatever marketplace you used to place your order. People trust people so your authentic recommendation will make a big difference to others that might be hesitating.
6. Support through crowdfunding (Kickstarter, Ulele and others)
There may come a time when the startup needs an injection of funds – to launch a production run of the initial, or spinoff, product/service – and will ask for your help in the form of a small (or large) donation or by pre-ordering one or more of its’ products often at great one-off prices! That is a key moment to act. The startup is wearing its heart on its sleeve, asking you to vote with your own hard-earned cash that all those long hours of work and months/years of little (to no) pay of the entrepreneurs was worth it – that this really is a product/service that you want to see widely available on the market in the future. To make that happen, they need you!
And, of course, if you really are a true believer, then there may be an opportunity for you to live the dream and become a part-owner of the startup you so admire as more and more companies are opting to open their capital to small investors via crowd investment platforms. In return, they hope you will become active ambassadors for their concept.
Oh, and to conclude …. perhaps I can offer two tips for fellow entrepreneurs:
Don’t expect others to know what you need or how to do it. If you need something, ask your friends and family in a very clear way and make it easy for them to do it!
Say THANK YOU! Often!