When I walked away from my startup in late April of 2013, I had reached a major crossroads. More than two years of my life had been invested into Habidy.com, a struggling social media company. I was in a place where many entrepreneurs had been before me: zero business prospects, zero income and a bucket full of obligations (including supporting a young family and paying NYC rent).
I had some decisions to make. I could continue eking it out in the startup world or turn back to the corporate drumbeat that I had walked away from in 2008. Startup life meant stress and uncertainty and an emotional barometer that boomeranged between elation and disappointment. On the flip side, a day job could provide a steady paycheck and a modicum of fulfillment. But it would also mean a departure from a lifestyle that allowed me to chart my own course for success.
For me, the choice was easy – I stuck with startups.
However, this time I chose to consult with startups, taking what I had learned through trial, error and misdirection and applying it to other early-stage founders with big brains and even bigger ideas.
Here is an overview of how I built and scaled a consulting business over one month’s time – and went from zero to four incredible startup clients in the process:
Step 1: Define Your Brand
What services are you selling and why will people choose you as an expert provider? Defining your brand means first defining yourself. Determine what you can do for people that they can’t (or don’t have time to) do for themselves.
Given my marketing and PR pedigree, my niche was easy to pinpoint and articulate to others. I help early and mid-stage startups hone their content and their market. I ensure that their messages, delivery and product are all singing from the same songsheet.
Find what sets you apart and what promise you can fulfill for your customers and get to work.
Step 2: Hone Your Message
Once you’ve found a niche and feel comfortable selling your services to others, you need to develop easy message points that clearly communicate your reason for being.
Defining a brand and nailing your message may seem relatively easy, but your business’ first, powerful impression is the most important thing for any company. Get it right the first time and you’ll be well on your way.