Having started a games company in the early noughties and his involvement with a few other businesses since then. Peter Lynch gives us his 10 top tips (& a Bonus Tip) to help others starting out in one of the most competitive Startup cities in the world, Dublin.
01) Only Spend on Marketing:
As you have probably heard, cash is king for all businesses, more so for start-ups. You won’t have much cash starting out so it is vital to spend wisely in those early stages. So the simple rule is – only spend on marketing and sales. This rule has two effects:
– Money spent on effective marketing is never wasted.
– Indirectly your business and team will become more focused on marketing, a good thing for technology companies.
02) Don’t rent an Office:
Despite the lower rents, office space in Dublin is still expensive and a real waste of cash when starting out. Offices are needed for full teams, meeting clients and storing hardware. You probably don’t have much (or any) of all three so you don’t need an office. If you are meeting potential clients, rent a ‘hot desk’ office or meet at their place.
Use Skype and Dropbox to create a virtual office. When you have regular paying contracts or revenue streams, then rent.
03) Don’t pay yourself or your team:
Work part time, contract – do whatever you need to do to avoid paying (much) salaries when you are in startup mode. With your team, agree a profit share or equity share (for senior people). Having said the above, it is important to factor in your correct salaries when costing contracts for clients or doing your P&L (profit & loss) projections for investors – a big mistake start-ups can make.
04) Team makeup : 1 Tech and 1 Biz
A lot of start-ups tend to comprise mainly of developers. Not a bad thing but it means the focus of team will be on the technology, not the business. With the current downturn, there are a lot of seasoned marketing professionals looking for work and business opportunities – get them on-board!
05) Network Wisely:
There are a huge number of business, technology and start-up networking events held in Ireland each year. Like all events, some are more useful than others. If your business is B2B, I would attend a good few; otherwise be more selective.
06) Social Media
Social Media should be part of your marketing plan, not a replacement for it.
Many new start-ups talk about social media as if it is their only marketing activity. The basics of a marketing plan are still as valid as ever (remember the 4 Ps). Your social media strategy should be part of your overall marketing strategy; not the other way around.
07) Government Supports:
Besides Enterprise Ireland (EI), there are a ton of other government support agencies. Most are listed on this very useful site basis.ie. EI is good for soft supports and advice. However don’t forget the County Enterprise Boards – good straight forward supports available.
08) Get on a Entrepreneurship programme:
There are a number of good government supported start-up programs such as Hothouse and M50 Enterprise. Besides good advice and training, the best thing about these programmes is the networking with other start-ups.
09) Create a 12 month Target:
If you are not making real sales within 12 months of starting your online business, call it a day. A tough one this one but you will always find excuses for not making sales. Learn from your mistakes and start again!
10) Make it look Good:
Humans are visual creatures, we judge everything first by our eyes – including software. You can release your product if some features are not fully finished or included; however never ever release something that does not look good. Just look at Apple; there were a few other touch screen phones out before the iPhone but none had it’s wow factor.
11) Focus, focus, focus:
We live in a world of information push, damn you Facebook and LinkedIn. Besides all the online stuff, as an entrepreneur, everyone will be giving you advice. You will be told to do this, follow that, hire them, etc. Keep it simple, don’t loose focus and you will succeed.
Peter is currently head of development at Fierce Fun Games. His past experience includes working with Intel as a senior Project Manager, as well as the Programme Director at Digital Skills Academy.