5 Things You Should Know Before Starting Your First Company
I launched Digital Press just four months ago. For any startup, securing the first client is a pretty big win.
The moment we launched Digital Press, we secured 5 clients almost instantly.
Entrepreneurs eager to start their own business have asked me time and time again, questions like:
“What are your marketing secrets?”
“How much do you spend on ads?”
They’re missing the point.
The process of starting your own company has very little to do with “marketing hacks” and advertising.
It has everything to do with building a real audience before launching your business.
And here’s why:
1. Proof of Concept
Before launching Digital Press I had already written at least 1,000 columns online: 700+ Quora answers, 300+ Inc. columns, guest columns. So the moment I announced I was launching Digital Press, I already had people paying attention.
The death of most startups is failed proof of concept.
People spend way too much money investing in concepts that have yet to be tested at proper scale. As time passes and business is slow, they continue to exhaust their resources on how to better market whatever it is they’re selling.
This only causes more problems.
Many of the problems I should have encountered when Digital Press launched were already handled. By the time Digital Press launched, I already had:
People paying attention
Access for distribution
Real, authentic credibility.
I had been ghostwriting for years before coming up with the idea for Digital Press. I knew what potential clients looked like. I understood their expectations. I had proven that my craft was in demand. Now I just needed to deliver.
So, I scaled my freelance into a business.
2. Understanding Customer Paying Points
Understanding customer paying points is the most underestimated task at hand when starting a company. If you launch your business before really grasping what it is your customers expect, you will fail -- miserably.
Luckily, I figured this out through my freelance work.
Before I launched Digital Press I had clients I was already ghosting for on a regular basis. That being said, I was able to practice religiously before I decided to make a business out of it.
Understanding customer paying points means listening to feedback.
I had some clients tell me, “Hey, you really nailed it!”
While others said things like, “You really missed the mark on this.”
I valued both comments equally. Ghosting for clients before launching Digital Press allowed substantial growth for me as a writer. I understood exactly what potential customers were looking for and was able to make a quick connection with customers once Digital Press launched.
Before I had an official “business” I treated my freelance as my business. I was already doing all the same work. I realized that by through constant practice and listening to feedback, I was able to understand customer paying points hit the ground running when I launched my business.
Let’s get something straight:
Spending money on credibility is not the same as earning it.
In the beginning, most startups spend A TON of money on PR, ads, featuring on “big name” podcasts to appear professional…
Stop doing this.
Go out and EARN your credibility. Because frankly, buying it doesn’t mean shit.
If clients ever question the value of my services, I point to myself as a case study:
When I was 21, I didn’t know I was going to start a ghostwriting agency. I had one goal: become a better writer. I practiced relentlessly every day.
The more I practiced the more my writing improved (who woulda thought…). The better I got, the more my audience grew. I began to make a name for myself as a writer.
As my writing began to resonate with more and more people, I was offered my own Inc. column where I began to build a new audience. My work on Inc. and continued answers on Quora brought me to Top Writer status on both platforms.
Soon enough, my work was featured in TIME, Forbes, Fortune, Business Insider, Chicago Tribune.
To this day, my writing has been viewed 50+ million times.
So why am I “bragging” about my success thus far as a writer?
I’m not. I’m simply explaining that real credibility comes from hard work. It comes from constant practice. It comes from listening to feedback and understanding your audience.
It does not come from advertisements, PR, or spending on other promotion.
4. Walking the Walk
If you’ve started a business in an area you have yet to fully immerse yourself in, I feel sorry for you.
If you yourself haven’t “walked the walk” -- i.e. proven your concept, understand your customer paying points, built an audience, gained credibility -- don’t start a company.
Simple as that.
You can read all the books and articles in the world about your market, spend tons of money on advertising, interview top experts in your field.
But until you have put yourself in the trenches and know first-hand what it takes to run a successful company, don’t even think about starting one.
5. Building for the long-term
If you’re looking to build an audience and gain credibility just for the sake of securing a few clients off the bat you’re in it for the wrong reasons.
I’ve always had a passion for writing. My audience is authentic. That’s because it was built organically. I wrote -- and still write --- to share my stories with readers who care.
The reason I’ve had outpouring support for Digital Press from the get-go comes from bridging the gap between Digital Press as a company and Nicolas Cole as a person.
The moment I launched Digital Press I had people paying attention. Even though most of these people didn’t need our services, I had my name tied to the company.
This long-term trajectory should be your primary focus.
And your audience should be full of people who follow the journey, not those whom you paid for their attention.