This is a special blog; a here and now for the current situation that we find ourselves in due to COVID-19. I’m a positive person by nature. Consequently, I always look for the opportunity in bad situations. I search for the reasons to do things rather than the reasons not to do things. I understand that this approach won’t be for everybody. But my feeling is that if you’re building a product, now’s the time to build it or design it, and that is what I’ll focus on in this article.
I want you to think of now as a good time to be launching a startup; doing all the groundwork and building a presence and voice in the marketplace and your community. Doing so means that when all this ends or the situation with COVID-19 improves, you’re ready to launch your idea.
Many businesses are not able to do what they normally do at the moment. There will be some entrepreneurs out there who were thinking of establishing a startup and are now having second thoughts or putting the idea on hold until the situation changes. But I really want you to think about whether that’s the best course of action.
Could this be a golden opportunity to develop your product or service, get it tested by people you know and those in the industry, and lay the foundations for the start of your next venture?
At thestartupfactory.tech, we’re talking to a number of entrepreneurs in the north-west, particularly Manchester, at the moment and we’ve noticed a very mixed reaction to the situation with COVID-19. Some people have made the decision to stop their plans and re-engage with us once the situation changes.
Then there are others who see this as an opportunity, and I’m inclined to agree with them. Here are the main reasons why I believe now is a good time to prepare your startup idea.
There is an abundance of resources at the moment. There are people crying out for work and if you’re looking for people to work with you’ll get their full attention. You’ll be helping people who might be struggling for work at the moment, particularly those who are self-employed or have a small company.
As well as finding an abundance of people who could help you with your idea, you’ve also got an abundance of testers available. There are probably a number of people in your network who are willing to spend some time testing your idea.
Obviously, everything has to be done remotely, but that’s fine because everything can be done remotely these days.
Again, I’d argue that this could be the best time to properly get people’s attention. They might not have a lot to do while they’re waiting for the situation with this virus to evolve. Catch them now, before they’re focusing on getting their own company back up and running once this peters out.
Take advantage of having these people available, who can test and chat about your idea.
Time to lay the foundations of your business
If you take this time to build your product and test it the best you can with the people that you know, you can hit the ground running. There’s no reason why you can’t grab the market share of whatever it is you’re trying to do really quickly. You may even take some of that market share away from other companies that are slower to do this, or the other entrepreneurs who have decided to put their idea on ice. I also believe that if you lay these foundations now, you’ll be in a much better position to hit high growth quickly.
Time to build your personal brand
You have plenty of time at the moment to begin to build your personal brand. I’m a massive believer in this modern way of marketing. The days of leaflets, adverts and magazines have gone and you have to look at new ways to do things.
That means finding new ways of sharing content online, sharing expertise and having a voice in the community for the market you’re working in. When you do this well, it gives you real credibility and because it gives you credibility as a person, by default, it also gives your company credibility.
If you have other people working with you, they should be doing exactly the same thing. That means writing blogs, maybe filming vlogs and doing online webinars to create a noise in the marketplace when everything’s probably a little bit quieter than normal.
Whether it’s your personal brand or your team’s, this will give you some momentum when things improve.
Build momentum for your business
If you get your product ready and test it, you can get feedback from focus groups and implement that into your idea further. If you’ve done the groundwork in terms of beginning to make a noise in the community and market that you want to build your company in, you’ll build momentum that you can capitalise on when the situation starts to improve.
I think it’s perfect timing for all of these elements to come together. Don’t forget that people have more time to read at the moment. They’re looking for things to do; after all, there’s only so much Netflix they can watch. Now is the time for you to give them something interesting to read. They will be grateful for it and you will have cemented both your personal brand and your company’s brand.
The aim is to put your company at the forefront of their mind when they are ready to use your services. That’s what this marketing is all about. The great thing is that you’re not shelling out money to do this. You’re just taking the time to do it. You could argue that although it doesn’t cost you money, it costs you time, but time is probably something that a lot of people are going to have an abundance of over the next few months.
Where to find support
If you’re reading this and feel that this could be a great time to prepare your startup idea, lay the foundations for your business, build your product or design your service, start your marketing and be heard in the marketplace and your community so that you can hit the ground running when this is all over, you’ll find plenty of support.
My role at thestartupfactory.tech, along with the rest of the team, is to help tech product startups in the north-west to build their tech product. We also provide support with other business services.
We have a very experienced team, both technically and commercially, all of whom have been there, done that and got the T-shirt. We can help you build a simple tool all the way through to highly complex products. We can also help with business strategy and finance as a service (both from a personal point of view as an entrepreneur using our network and also from the perspective of a part-time financial director). I believe that the startups that have those financial disciplines and strategies in place are more likely to succeed than the ones that don’t, which is why finding this support is important.
We also provide CTO as a service and can support startups to fill all kinds of voids in their skillset. But our primary purpose is to help entrepreneurs build their tech products. We do this on a part equity, part cash basis, which substantially reduces the cost and shares the risk in the venture.
A fresh perspective
If you’re still not convinced, maybe an analogy will help you to see how you could make the best of this situation.
I have a friend who works in the construction trade, primarily on huge projects. He’s waiting to hear whether he can carry on doing this, as the government guidelines aren’t quite clear at the moment. But he’s already decided what he’ll do if he can’t keep working for the foreseeable future: he’s going to build an extension for his home.
He’s already been to the builder’s merchants and ordered all the materials he’ll need to build this extension while he’s off work. He’s seizing the moment to do something and have something at the end of this. He’s realised that he’s got the time to do this and building the extension for his house, that will improve his family’s way of living and increase the value of his property, is a really effective use of his time if he can’t work.