Competition, Marketing, Mentoring, Growth Hacking, Leadership, Sales, SaaS Metrics, Roundup#21 Dec 15 2013
I’m back with a packed collection from the past 3 weeks. This week’s Roundup #21 from Startup Management is a manual selection of 25 article links from the hundreds of articles being curated. Previous issues are available here. For daily content, please visit the website’s River of news (as a stream), or Magazine view (by category).
My next update will have something to do with the end of the year. Also, I’ve got a number of upcoming important blog posts before the end of 2013.
The topic of competition for startups came back via two posts; Competition from Rob Go, and Why I Don’t Stress Over Competition Anymore, by entrepreneur Alex Turnbull of Groove. Each post tackled a different aspect of dealing with the competition. Alex suggested not worrying about the competition, but dealing with it, and Rob says he likes to see startups that adopt a balanced view of the competition. I wrote a post on that topic, Treat the Competition Differently, Depending on Your Stage; outlining how you view the competition depends on the stage you’re in: idea, MVP, product/market fit, growth, scaling.
In Onboarding vs. Waterboarding, Matt Blumberg reminds us of the importance of employee on-boarding, especially the first 90 days, and even preparing for it, before Day 1. “Take onboarding much more seriously, and you’ll be astounded by the results.” “It’s important to get new hires engaged even before their first day.”
Mentoring entrepreneurs is a black art. This post by Sramana Mitra resonated with me, Mentoring Startups: 10 Lessons We Have Learned. It contains insights for mentors and mentees. “It is a complex exercise to give people a message that goes against the grain of media hype.”
Virality and Growth Hacking
GrowthHackers.com has a two-part case study on Upworthy. Part I Upworthy — What Happens When a Growth Hacker Launches a Media Company, details some of the strategies that lead them to reach 88 million uniques per month. According to their secret sauce, the “sweet science of virality” includes 5 factors: 1) content, 2) framing, 3) Tech/UX, 4) data, and 5) luck. And Part II 88 Million Uniques, but Will it Kill Upworthy, discusses their dependence on Facebook, how they grew mobile, international markets, and the importance of the brand to maintain a sustainable business.
Growth Hacking in the Enterprise
In The Enterprise Hacker Rises, Tom Rikert from Andreessen Horowitz notes there is a new family of startups that is providing tools that can be used by enterprise hackers without technical backgrounds. Examples include GoodData, Zapier, Optimizely, Wise.io, SnapLogic, and Capriza.
In Five Ways to Learn Nothing from Your Customers’ Feedback, Rob Markey lists the 5 mistakes I have also seen myself while advising startups. It typically starts with this fundamental mistake: “Aggregate the feedback into scores, percentages, and averages — and stop there.”
Kate Stull has a clearly written post for new and experienced managers, How to be a boss: a new manager’s guide to managing down. Some of the advice: “Get used to being the decision-maker, but don’t do it on your own. Never take the credit, always take the blame. Connect with people *as a manager*.”
500Startups has an interview with Intuit Design strategist Leah Buley, Leah Buley on Design, Research and Business Strategy that includes some good advice on designing the user experience. “Great experiences are focused. To make great products, simplify.” “You are (probably) not your user. Imaging how you would use it is not enough.”
Denis Duvauchelle of Twoodo highlights The most valuable lessons learned from managing a virtual team, noting there is a difference between “remote” and “distributed”. “In a remote team, there is a company office(s) where some team members are based full-time. A distributed team has no location base – everyone is in a different place.” He outlines 10 lessons for remote team management, and his journey from remote to distributed.
In What happens right after sign-up makes or breaks any web product, Nate Munger lists 8 methods to think about, and questions to ask yourself. One of them is “progressive profiling”, a technique that LinkedIn, Facebook and Tumblr have employed.
Tomasz Tunguz has a post, How To Hire A Head Of Customer Success For Your Startup, where he emphasizes the importance of churn management. “To materially reduce churn, the company must appoint someone who has the data access and the mandate within the organization to search for and identify causes of churn and the influence to enact change.” I agree with Tomasz that “data access” is key. This data is basically coming from the various SaaS systems, and there are solutions that allow you manage it [hint: Amity, Gainsight].
If you’re interviewing a candidate for a sales position, Jim Keenan says to look for the (smart) questions that candidates ask, in How to Know You’re Interviewing an “A” Player. These are point-blank questions, and they show the maturity and experience of the candidate. Must Read. And Mark Birch has a great framework for thinking about how to acquire sales leads, in Sales for Startups: Lead Acquisition, Source & Acquisition. He breaks it up into 3 buckets: Lead Acquisition, Lead Source, and Lead Execution. And Frank Beizer, author of Sales Shift outlines Why B2B Sales is Adopting a B2C Approach. The short answer? Inbound marketing! It is making more difficult and more lucrative at the same time.
Just for the 2 graphics on Content Marketing metrics success for B2B and B2C, The Future of Content: Upcoming Trends in 2014 from The Moz Blog deserves to be read.
First Round Capital has a long post, How to Win as a First-Time Founder, a Drew Houston Manifesto that details Drew Houston’s journey and success. It’s a summary of a 57 min video that is included in the post.
There’s an excellent Slideshare presentation on The Modern Marketing Organizational Structure by Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, CMO at Mindjet in this post, One CMO’s advice for getting started with agile marketing. I liked this quote about the marketing operational philosophy: “Operate like consultants; Execute like scientists.” And Avinash Kaushik has a really good article, Digital Marketing and Analytics: Two Ladders For Magnificent Success. The charts and diagrams are magnificent, and lay out a clear evolution for digital marketing you will need to consider.
SaaS Metrics and Growth
Christoph Janz has a great post, The 8th DO for SaaS startups – Stay on top of your KPIs, with a useful table that outlines a list of key metrics for each of the 3 phases of evolution: 1) pre product/market fit, 2) post product/market fit, 3) post scale. If you think that calculating the CAC is easy, this post by Dave Kellog, The Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) Ratio: Another Subtle SaaS Metric lists the six issues to consider: months vs. years, customers vs. dollars, revenue on top vs. bottom, revenue vs. gross margin, the cost of customer success, and time periods of S&M.
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