- Competitive (5-10% of web visitors) – buyer makes smart, quick decisions. These buyers are all about speed and quality to gain an advantage. They want to be the best… oftentimes, the first (advantage).
- Methodical (45%) – buyers are very logic-oriented. They want to understand everything about buying a product or service including advantages and disadvantages of competitive options.
- Humanistic (10-15%) – buyers believe in emotional/ altruistic purchases. They are looking for validation among consensuses.
- Spontaneous (25-35%) – these buyers make purchase decisions based on feelings and gut. That is, they make quick decisions.
- 2.5 years ago, the buyer group consisted of 5.4 stakeholders. Today, that number is 6.8 from 3.4 different functional areas. When you add heads into the buying process, there’s an expectation of a need to get consensus which, ironically, is the result of indecision due to more heads.
- Customers citing high amounts of dysfunction are 60% less likely to make an ambitious purchase (vs. lower dysfunction companies). This leads to customers buying very simple, bare minimum purchases to assuage the consensus.
- The average purchase decision takes 4.9 months while the average “no purchase” decision takes 4.7. There’s so much dysfunction that getting any type agreement (go or no-go) is virtually the same. No wonder prospects go radio silent before any feedback.
A few keys then arise from these thoughts. First, be prepared for the long haul and the difficulty of today’s sales. Second, nail the value prop as quick as possible with a very specific target group. Third, reduce the consensus. Get the sale. Expand later.
- Politics – Implementing changes at a big company is like steering a massive ship – it takes time, and a lot of effort. There’s a lot of personalities involved. There will be proponents and champions as well as blockers and gatekeepers. Knowing how to speak with executives while tactfully navigating the cluster of people is imperative. Politics and risks are huge facts of life that cannot be glossed over.
- Structure – Big companies come with big structures. As much as you may jump and grimace at “structure”, structure gives us balance and the ability to prioritize. As a co-op, I learned the value of structure through workflows, time management, and simply, how to build an analysis.
- Professionalism – I’m hiring in a startup. Yeah, you can wear a t-shirt, if you want. We’ll throw a stress ball around and crack jokes, but you can bet we will be professional with each other and with everyone we encounter externally. Too often candidates think professionalism is just “thank you” and “yes, sir”. Professionalism is about communication – both explicit and implicit. It can be silent communication through your body language. Professionalism is how you receive feedback, speak on the phone, and write an email. Too often candidates rely on what they think is good to him/ herself but fail to recognize what’s good for others.
- Connections – Humans are social creatures, so relationships are vital to us. In the business world, relationships enable sales, recruiting, etc. I didn’t do a great job of connecting and forming good relationships with the full-timers. I did, however, form very good relationships with my fellow co-ops that later led to all sorts of opportunities. This is where I strive to better everyday in daily interfaces.
- Reality – This sounds simple, but it’s not. Reading the best practices in books and learning about case studies is one thing, but reality sets in in the real world that toss much of what we hope and dream for out the window. That’s not to say things can’t be better, but there are details that make businesses so much more complex. Striving for better is always the goal, but failing to realize the holistic picture of yesterday, today, and tomorrow’s business can lead to disaster.
- Expected Returns – SaaStr states that a 10% return on the totalventure capital (VC) fund is good while aiming to earn its total VC fund in profits is the goal. Understand what the goals of the investor(s) are, and have the model to illustrate goals can be met with even conservative achievement.
- Legal Collateral– The Producer was shocked to learn how much he had to spend to validate the authenticity and originality of the script. Investors are looking at legal terms and insurance to not only cover risks of copyright infringement, but also the leveragability for greater valuation.
- Long-Term Strategy – Are you a one-hit wonder? Do you have the creativity to be adaptable? Are you thinking big? Focusing on the now is good, but investors are looking for big returns. Long-term value creation enables bigger returns.
- Traction– One of the “shticks” about Atlanta investment is how stingy investors can be. In the Valley, ideas can be funded pre-revenue. In Atlanta, the companies that garner investment are largely post-revenue. For the Producer, he had to collect and display written interest from film festivals. On “Shark Tank”, entrepreneurs can show letters of intent or purchase orders (POs).
- Business Plan – The Producer lamented the pain of creating a business plan. Having never done one before and without a business degree, he sought help from others. However, many could not show him “good” plans. Business plans can be rare outside of startups seeking investment. However, they can be immensely helpful in thinking about the business holistically, not just about this “great app idea”. The business plan forces the entrepreneur to think of the risks and the opportunities – sometimes, it can show the opportunity isn’t as big as he might think.
I share these, too, because I’ve heard a lot of ideas from wantrepreneurs. Then, there are others who start out, and then fold up shop only months later. They weren’t prepared. Most investors are savvy as they should be with their money. So, it’s no surprise what some common de-risk factors included, and how important wantrepreneurs and new entrepreneurs should consider when starting out.
- Buying a domain – GoDaddyor Namecheap.Both are very simple. Go Daddy can offer as low as $2.99 for the first year of owning the domain with a 2-year commitment. The second and following years go up to $14.99. You can find domains on Namecheap for $10.69 annual (first, second, so forth).
- Website builder/ content management system (CMS) – WordPress. This blog (as of 03/09/17) is built with Blogger. It was real quick to get up and running several years ago when I started. However, Blogger lacks the power of flexibility and a strong theme ecosystem to customize like WordPress. The themes make your site stand out, and many can be incredibly easy to implement “WOW” elements.
- Hosting – Siteground.This is a new recommendation. I launched 100 Strangers, 100 Days with Digital Ocean. It was easy, but also had several hiccups. Plus, it’s expensive. I checked out Siteground, and found this to be WICKED easier. A few clicks, and you’re up. Simple, fast, and a fraction of the cost of other hosting services.
- WordPress Template – Enfold. This theme is very simple and hugely powerful. It’s drag-and-drop capabilities are superior to what I’ve found on other sites. Meanwhile, you can customize the heck out of your site with very simple UI. The team has done a great job of still playing nice with plug-ins for even greater flexibility. Also, they back up their work with great support. Just select a demo template from their packaged theme, and go from there. Simple.
- Emailer/ marketing – Mailchimp.It’s an Atlanta-based company bootstrapped from the start. Real quick to use this to capture emails, and notify your readers of updates.
With the above, you can launch a site and have a simple landing page up in a couple hours. It could happen faster, but you’ll likely noodle over color schemes, pictures, and the like. Know that with this set-up, you can take your time or be quick.
Customers. We love our customers. They’re the best. They help us do the great things we want to do. We love our customers.
Team members. We love our team members. We wouldn’t be “we” if we didn’t have the team. We wouldn’t be able to execute and flourish without the right team members. We love our team members.
Shareholders. We love our shareholders. We appreciate their guidance and commitment so that we can execute on our grand vision. We love our shareholders.