Building traction for your startups

One of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs is how to build traction for their startup. This article takes a look at various aspects of doing so in the best possible way.
Written by Srinivas Kulkarni, Contributor

Great entrepreneurship is about doing ordinary things and making them larger than life. Sometimes your idea can be one of the best ideas ever, but simpler than you could ever imagine. So, a lot of times, there are a number of goals that entrepreneurs set for themselves in order to get their idea, business, and startup its much-deserved attention and scalability. But the biggest challenge probably to begin with is this forever-talked-about thing called "traction".

Yes, traction is something that startups require early on to make it or break it. A lot of times, building that traction is the sole focus of an entrepreneur, once they have built their product or company. Well, a lot of times, they start focusing on the traction bit even before they've built their product. How important is this traction for entrepreneurs? Why does it matter to them more than anything else at various lifecycles of their entrepreneurship and their startup building?

Well, the greatest innovations and ideas have failed a lot of times because there wasn't any traction for them. There could have been many reasons why they weren't accepted by the audience, but at the end of the day, what mattered most was that they didn't really work because they didn't get the traction they sought, deserved, or probably hoped to have. As an entrepreneur, if you don't get traction, then there's a lot of challenge in whatever you're doing. Traction is essentially a measurable group of users that validate your existence and for that matter help serve the purpose of your startup. I'll take a look at some aspects of these, and how one could go about building traction for their startup and what works best.

According to Aditya Rao, founder of LocalOye, a commerce engine for the events industry, the biggest challenge that any startup faces while building traction is the lack of time, and, most of the time, confusion on what to prioritise.

"Even though SEO is required as a great inbound marketing channel, it is a long-term game and takes five to six months. How do you decide how much time to spend on that compared to being on the road and meeting people personally, which takes more time but might give results sooner," he said.

It is true. To begin prioritizing what is required when is one of the key elements of building traction. The map to your success will always depend on how you filter out the significant from the insignificant or less necessary lot. Once you start on that note, then the road to your success can be a lot smoother than you think. So the first and foremost aspect you need to decide as an entrepreneur is to how to prioritize your needs.

"Start selling from Day 0," he said in this blog post. Well, come to think of it, it's a really great idea. But what is it that you need to do to be able to start selling from Day 0? Well, yes, there are the traditional aspects, such as your own family and friends. Is your product useful to them? Reaching out to them via emails and phone calls or even through social media is a good idea to start off with. These are basic things that you could think of. Then there's the utilization of social media through ads, campaigns, creating content that will appeal to your target audience, and of course doing the full-fledged social media marketing. But yes, all of this should start from Day 0. You don't have to worry as to how you will sell the idea. All you have to think of is how you are generating buzz and awareness about what you are doing.

Building PR, both traditional and non-traditional, always helps. You should think of various avenues, such as communities, groups, LinkedIn, print, and other forms of media, which can help you build PR and as a result help you build traction for your startup. In today's world, utilizing the digital medium for your startup is the least you could do to build users for your business.

Within that aspect, SEO or SEM will always be a great avenue for you to actually target your users and start building your brand right from the get go. Start building your content and linking it as often as you can. Use aspects of SEO and various plugins to tap into the directories of Google. Let your content be optimized to be searched as often as it could. These things matter a lot, even if they are minor aspects of building your business. Yes, it takes time, but surely you have to start somewhere. So begin now. Once you're done, you'll realize that these aspects will matter a lot more than you thought.

On the social media front, build a page, do advertising, generate great content on all platforms, be it Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Google+ most importantly. A lot of traffic to your website can be driven because of your indexing and linking that goes out via Google+ postings.

To afford a marketing budget and have full-fledged marketing as your priority can overwhelm you sometimes. Yes, there is money involved in some of the aspects of business development and marketing, but try to figure out ways you could do them organically and with as much required budget as it can be. Tap into your friends who are influencers, reach out to your audience via communities and bloggers. Believe me, its these little things that matter the most.

Of course, newsletters and emails are something that have been on top of the list for a lot of entrepreneurs and marketers. But you need to be able to identify the right audience these mass mailers go out to. Try aspects of permission marketing over interruption marketing. Interestingly, you'll realize that the conversion rate will be far higher on the former. How do we do that? Well, to begin with, initiate a survey that people can take. That means they are interested and could be potential customers of the future. If this is something you have in mind, you could even start doing this before you reach Day 0. Of course, do communicate to them with an option to unsubscribe anytime later.

A lot of these things matter to build traction for your startup. How many of you have tried out these aspects of building traction through various means especially digital? What has your success been like? I'd be really curious to know. Do share your success stories with me and how you built traction around your startup.

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