Many founders wrongly believe they have to change the world to be successful.
Yes, some startups like Uber, Airbnb, and WeWork created new markets and changed how millions of people live. However, this doesn’t describe the experience of most successful early-stage ventures.
Even if there are well-established players in a market, buyers always want something better. If you can improve slightly on what the top companies are doing, you become the best. Or, you can zoom in on a specific sub-niche and capture market share that way.
Overall, there are many paths to break into a crowded sector. Here are a few tips to help you assess your market entry strategy.
1. Serve the Underserved
In any industry, there are customers who feel ignored by the existing options on the table. They may already subscribe to services or own products. However, they may still have unmet needs that large-scale businesses are unwilling to fulfill for a variety of reasons.
By serving the underserved, your business can attract a passionate following quickly. You can generate cash flow and start nipping at competitor heels before they even realize you exist.
If your young business is not designed to solve a problem you have experienced personally, interview prospective customers to learn what they think about existing offerings in the marketplace. Doing so will enable you to discover opportunities to differentiate yourself before you enter and spin your wheels on customer acquisition efforts.
2. Be the Best at Something
At first, it can be hard to compete with bigger companies that have presence in many areas across a broader industry. Your competitors may do many things well on multiple fronts, which can be intimidating for those who are just getting started.
Some startups mistakenly think they have to compete at the macro level immediately out of the gates. In reality, new entrants can separate themselves simply by doing one thing better than everyone else. A single point of differentiation can give a business all the clout it needs to get started in a busy industry.
3. Partner with Relevant, Tangential Brands
Another way to gain footing in a saturated market is to latch onto tangentially related brands that don’t directly compete in your space.
For example, an online retailer with a social mission can look for opportunities to work with established philanthropic organizations. A fintech startup that donates a portion of profits to environmental causes could team up with national park services.
By working with organizations that share similar extracurricular interests, you gain exposure to new audiences that would otherwise be hard to find. It’s important to ensure you have genuine intentions if you go down this route, as it will be hard to create meaningful partnerships otherwise.
4. Tell Your Story Well
Even if other startups and founders have similar past experiences, no one has traveled the same path as you and your team. Your story is unique -- guaranteed.
In crowded industries, customers have likely explored many flavors of offerings. Consequently, it can be hard to “wow” them with your product or business idea alone.
The way to stand out is by telling your story incredibly well. Doing so enables people to connect to your brand more intimately. It makes your startup more memorable and approachable.
Capture market share by highlighting who you are. If you share your backstory with pride, customers will gravitate towards your business because they care about you.
Earning a Seat at the Table
It’s easy for young founders and companies to get discouraged when trying to enter a new market, especially one that is full of well-known, established brands.
However, there is a way to earn a seat at the table. Get to know your customers intimately, discover niches that your competitors are overlooking, and be the best at serving those people. On top of that, align yourself with other well-known, related brands and tell your story with tremendous excitement.
At Funded.club, we understand how hard it can be to get started. We offer fixed-fee recruiting services, as well as consulting support to help founders find funding for their ventures.
Interested in learning more?
Contact us today.
Even in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, many European startups are still pushing forward with recruiting. Top talent is almost always valuable, especially for fast-growing, early-stage ventures that are trying to get off of the ground.
The challenge lies in cost-effectively attracting high-quality candidates. It can be hard to find the perfect fit for your organization if you don’t know where to look.
Here, we highlight five recruiting methods you should start using today to keep your talent pipeline active without breaking your budget.
1. Set Clear Goals Around What Gaps You Need to Fill
The first step in hiring top talent is to clarify what your startup needs:
It may not be evident to your entire team what gaps you need to fill. Or, you may not be aligned on what the most important next step is for your business.
Go through the exercise of creating a candidate “avatar” that represents your dream hire:
Answering these questions can help everyone get on the same page, especially when you are still refining your recruiting process.
Then, add metrics to help you measure your progress against these goals. Set benchmarks around cost per hire and time to hire so that you have targets to help guide your efforts.
2. Clarify Who You Want to be When You “Grow Up”
To get people interested in who you are, you need to create a compelling brand that convinces outsiders you are worth their time. Attracting top talent is a competition in many ways. More likely than not, the person you want to hire is in conversations with multiple companies.
If you don’t already, articulate a powerful mission statement and vision for your startup. Think carefully about what reputation you want to build in the world. Doing so will help you define your brand voice, as well as drive much of your promotional efforts.
Additionally, know that every early-stage hire impacts your culture in a significant way. Make sure you are intentional about establishing a culture so that you can bring in new teammates who fit the mold well or help you steer it in the right direction.
3. Find What Works and Double Down
Always keep track of what works and what doesn’t when it comes to recruiting. You want to invest more in the aspects of your talent pipeline that yield top talent while pulling back on areas that don’t.
Gather as much information as possible from interviewees, regardless of whether or not they accept an offer:
It’s hard to know what outsiders think of you unless you ask them for feedback. In many cases, you will be surprised by what you learn when you allow someone else to speak honestly.
4. Be Flexible and Open to Contracted or Part-time Talent
In today’s day and age, it’s becoming increasingly common for companies to work with freelancers or part-time employees before committing to a full-time hire. When your team is small, it can be scary to add a new, permanent face who will be working closely with you day in and day out.
It may be in your startup’s best interest to go the contractor or part-time route to gain clarity on exactly what you need. Think of this approach as a way to trial potential full-time roles or skill sets in a low-risk manner. You can learn if you truly need a new full-time teammate or just an expert to give you 20 hours per month on tightly scoped projects.
If you find someone you love working with and is enthusiastic about your mission, ask them if they would be interested in a full-time position. You already have a strong working relationship, and the contractor is already familiar with how you operate. Overall, this is an excellent strategy for validating potential hires without burning your recruiting budget.
5. Keep Tabs on Many Different Networks
You don’t always have to go through traditional channels to find new hires. Many times, the right person could be an ex-coworker of someone on your existing staff or a former classmate from business school.
If the position you are trying to fill requires significant knowledge about your unique product or service, consider an internal promotion first. Is there anyone on your team who could be successful if given the opportunity to step up to a new challenge?
By promoting someone internally, you can swap out a hard-to-fill recruiting need with an easier one. Your internal talent moves upward, thereby opening up a lower position.
You can also create an employee referral program and incentivize your staff to help you fill openings. Give monetary rewards or bonuses to those who help you qualify and hire exceptional candidates.
Finally, create opportunities to meet people in your community through recruiting events or other company-sponsored engagements that bring people together. You may be one or two degrees of separation away from your next A-level hire!
Why Work With Funded.club
After implementing these strategies, you may still need some help. You’ve exhausted your professional network, built a powerful brand, set clear goals, and tried working with contractors. However, you’re still having trouble finding that perfect fit.
Funded.club partners closely with founders to provide fixed-fee, outsourced recruiting services. We find top-quality candidates according to your needs, review applications, and coordinate interviews so that your team can get back to growing the business.
Want to learn more about how we work?
Contact us today.
Ray Gibson is founder and CEO of Funded.club. He brings 20 years of experience in recruiting across Europe, North America and Asia and 5 years running his own startups.