Anyone who ever started their own startup will agree with this claim: your startup is both a dream and a nightmare at the same time.
It’s a dream, because finally, you took your business in your own hands, and decided to make a great idea happen; you wished upon a star and your dreams have come true, and now you have a concrete chance to make a change in the world (and maybe earn some millions on the way). But it’s also a nightmare – because everything is on you. You feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, as the life or death of your little “baby” is in nobody’s hands but yours. Getting funding, growing, recruiting, advertising – it’s all in your to-do list, and suddenly 24 hours don’t seem enough for the day.
You need a hand. There is so much that media monitoring can help you do to save time and money and to increase your chances of successfully growing your business. Especially for you, we prepared a list of 6 things every startup owner should be monitoring to help their startup grow. As a bonus, we give you tips from some of the most influential investors, startup owners, and mentors.
1. Your own startup
Start from the basics. Good media monitoring is the best friend of your startup’s growth-hacking and PR efforts. First, even before choosing the name for your startup, make sure you’re not picking a name that is already in use, or has negative connotations. Afterward, make sure to be on top of every conversation about your brand AND about yourself. Don’t miss a single conversation or article on which you are mentioned – otherwise it might be the last time you’ll see your name on the screen – react, interact, stay in touch, and help good news about your startup reach a large audience, by monitoring it closely.
As Brad Ross, himself a startup founder, says from his own experience: “One of the most important things startup companies should monitor is customer feedback. Ultimately, customer satisfaction is the strongest reflection of the status of your business. The happier your customers are, the more likely it is you are on the right track.”
How do you do it? Check out our tips for monitoring media about your brand, and get it going from the very first moment.
2. Your customers
A winning product is one that solves a problem many people face. In order for your startup to become popular, you need to know what your potential customers actually want, and how you can cater their needs. It means monitoring not only their feedback about your particular product, but also getting to know better their needs, problems and wishes. Find out what your potential customers really want, give it to them, and they will come in numbers.
Naomi Timperley, a startup consultant and founder of TechNorth Advocates, emphasizes this point: “Who are your customers? What problem are you trying to solve? – I think a lot of startups don’t think about who their customers will be and can’t nail down what problem they are trying to solve. Sometimes they are so excited about the idea that they forget this.”
John Turner, founder of social insights company “UsersThink” and himself an experienced startup guy, suggests to tackle this by going to the most personal experience of the customer: “Pay attention to individual stories and anecdotes of those with the problem you’re trying to solve. As much as higher level trends might be helpful, learning from individuals on their own experiences, why they have the problem, and what they do to solve it right now can go very far in helping you shape your solution, and help alert you to mini-problems that you might not have discovered without this type of interaction.”
3. Your industry and competition
Your startup is not all about you. As great as your idea may be, you still operate within a larger context: growing your startup is about reacting quickly and wisely to developments in the industry. How is your industry doing? What new trends and threats does it face? What are other firms in the field doing? Answering these questions is not even a matter of growing your startup – it’s about basic survival. Our world moves extremely fast, and those who don’t run fast enough, fall behind.
According to Martin Zwilling, Founder & CEO of “Startup Professionals”, market research is the most important aspect of your media monitoring: “Many entrepreneurs are so enamored with their product vision that they believe their own hype, and are convinced that the market for their solution is so huge that no one will ask them for independent market-research data. They don’t realize that business projections with no third-party validation have no credibility with investors. You need to find just enough information to quantify the real need out there for your product or service.”
But don’t confuse industry-monitoring with competition-monitoring: one thing is how the industry, in general, is proceeding, and another question is what your competition is doing at any given moment. As Natalie Baker, an expert on business plans for startups at StartupGarage, says: “The most important thing for young startups to pay attention to is their competition — both their direct and indirect competitors. By researching the competitive market, they will be able to see who’s out there, what their offering, and what they can provide or improve upon that their competitors aren’t doing. Thus, finding these competitive advantages will help distinguish a startup from the rest of the market.”
Industry and competition – don’t forget to keep your eye on both!
4. Startup Events and competitions
Speaking of being up-to-date with information about your industry, it’s also incredibly important to be informed about special events and competitions for startups. Whether local, global, thematic or universal, startup events are a great opportunity to gain visibility, promote your startup, mingle and meet potential investors or partners, and even maybe win a significant financial prize.
Since there are so many such events, it is hard to keep track of all of them – to be sure you don’t miss any opportunity, monitor “startup event”, “startup conference”, “startup competition” or “startup accelerator”. If you are looking for events in a particular place, don’t forget to add it to your monitoring (e.g. “startup conference London”); the same works if you are looking for events in a particular industry (e.g. “marketing startup competition”).
5. Potential Investors
If there is one problem all startups face, it’s funding. Everybody is out there, trying to get funding from angel investors, venture capitalists, or whomever is willing to lend a penny. But this road, as we know, is not easy. How do you find the right investor for your startup? How do you know if they will be willing to invest in your project? How do you pitch them in the most successful way? Media monitoring can help you answer many of these questions: after a preliminary research of investment and funding opportunities in your industry, make a shortlist of your potential investors, and start monitoring them. What are their recent investments? What interests them these days? What are they planning for the future? Have they declared something lately that may impact your potential cooperation? Gaining in-depth knowledge of potential investors can help you make a winning pitch!
6. Tools to make your life easier
When running a startup, all tasks are in your hands. Fortunately, there are many initiatives, programs and SaaS products out there, whose goal is to help you in your work. You are great with programming but marketing is not your strong side? Monitor “marketing tools” to get news about tools that will help you manage your marketing efforts. Having a hard time managing your schedule? Try monitoring “project management software”.
These six tips will help you monitor media to support the growth of your startup. But always remember: it’s not only about what information you find, what matters is the impact and the value of the information! As Martin Bryant, technology and startup writer at TechNorth, says: “There’s a wealth of information and discussion online that can help startups to grow but it’s not all equally valuable…always run anyone else’s opinion through your own filter of ‘is this person’s opinion really worth listening to?’”
So, ready to start monitoring these 6 topics to make your startup grow? Don’t wait – start now!