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Continuing on with our solopreneurs and startups series with American Express, I decided to highlight everyday tools you MUST have in your arsenal to ensure rapid growth and much success for your business. Having led WYL to the stage we’re at today (325k users, 10k landlord reviews, thousands in revenues, features in Blavity and NowThis), I’ve been able to learn exactly what it takes to make our business flourish. Below, I’ve listed out 5 growth tools you must have a grasp on in order to win in all the right ways.
1. The Right Social Presence On The Right Social Media Platform
Lesson: We all generally get that a social media presence can mean a lot to the success of your business. We’ve heard countless stories of boutique owners paying for $10 worth of Facebook ads a month and turning that into thousands a month in revenue. Sure, that’s not going to be the case for everyone, but it is important to note the capabilities.
Our experience: At WYL, honestly, it’s taken a while for us to find our online voice. Since day 1, we’ve had a Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. After spending time tinkering around, we’ve figured out what works for us. We use Facebook to share news stories, our written articles, and our videos. We use Twitter to engage in conversations with organizations, as a feedback loop for our users or others who want to inquire about something and to share news clippings. We use Instagram to incite feeling in our followers by using original photos of different communities, highlighting articles features, and by showing behind the scenes shots from events, we host or attend. Each platform serves a different purpose, and the masterful thing is – we know that.
2. Your Slide Deck Can Communicate Better Than You
Lesson: I don’t care if you use Google slides, Keynote, Prezi, or PowerPoint, just use something. Whoever came up with the concept of slide decks was a genius. The ability to use your screen space to amplify a message through brilliant photos and justtt enough text to convey a point is everything. Most partnerships, funds raised, and internal docs you create will be in this format. People like decks – so long as they’re clean and useful.
Our experience: We’ve closed hundreds of thousands of dollars in investments by using a slide deck. Shoot, a year ago when my email ran out of space (something I thought was impossible), a quick search of has: attachment revealed to me that the hundreds of variations of .pptx decks I had sent out over the years were dwarfing all my inbox space. That said, who cares – it was all worth it. Those nifty presentation decks have secured us hundreds of thousands in investments and partnerships.
3. Rep Company Swag That People Want To Wear
Lesson: Too many startups buy lame light blue t-shirts and polos with their basic logos plastered on the top corner or emblazoned across the middle front. I’m not going to lie; we have t-shirts with our logos on them (no polos though, no polos…). But, it’s all about the way we do it. You don’t want to be purchasing and giving out swag that people benefit most from when they’re sleeping in it. Stay away from becoming part of peoples’ nightgown lineup and aim to be something they wear out on a Friday night because it’s just that dope.
Our experience: The plainest version of swag we’ve ever had was our first t-shirts. That’s ok and common for most. Now, we have tank tops, sweatshirts, hoodies, and backpacks, which we’ve been told people LOVE. They say to us they want to rock our swag because our brand is lit and they like our founders and what we stand for as a company. Everything from the logo to the colors, to the designs, boldly exemplify that. We’ve had people ask to buy our swag all year long. For that reason, stay tuned for the WYL Shop coming soon!
4. Get You Some Good Organizational Software
Lesson: Startup business must-haves – Google for Business, Trello, Slack, Skype, Microsoft Office Suite, Adobe Acrobat. These are some of the items needed to get by. Google for Business allows for unlimited email space amongst your team, Google Drive usage to store and collab on things, Analytics to keep track of your app’s data, and Adsense to market and position your brand efficiently. Trello helps to organize team-wide projects by segment. Slack allows you to effortlessly message across your organization (or the world for that matter). Skype allows you to video conference. Microsoft has all the necessary documentation tools like Word and PowerPoint. Adobe allows you to sign and execute contracts, on the go, right from your cell phone.
Our experience: Communication amongst our team is crucial. Outside of office space, dev tools, and payroll, the software tools above are fixtures in our monthly overhead (and, that’s if we even have to pay). After we did a shooting with Shark Tank during the summer of 2016, we held a catch up Skype call with Barbara Corcoran (we’re real estate tech, she sold a real estate company – you get the connection). We’ve used PowerPoint to present investment opportunities to folks like the former CEO of Toys R Us and to close partnerships with major companies. We’ve even used FreeConferenceCall.com to host calls with government officials to discuss how we can work together to provide WYL to their communities. If you’re going to do anything special, you need the right equipment to get it done.
5. Make Sure Your Money Game’s Strong
Lesson: As a business, your core goal is to make money. The value you bring to the public should, in some way, drive capital to your organization. When getting started, you need to open up a bank account, you need to work with a reliable credit card company that provides perks and assistance for you, and you need to make Microsoft Excel your best friend. Keep track of your Profit & Loss statements, your Balance Sheet, and Annual Projections on a spreadsheet.
Our experience: We’ve had a checking account for WYL since day one and have had to update and re-configure it as we’ve become a larger entity. We’ve also been using American Express since day one. In the beginning, we’d use our personal Amex card to help us through the process; but, once we put our big-boy pants on, we moved to the Blue Business Plus credit card which provides 15 months delayed APR, flexibility with limits, and the ability to build our credit while covering routine monthly overhead bills (fixed advertising costs, office space, etc.). Lastly, we use Excel to keep track of all of our expenses and projected growth. Make sure your money is right. Build a great business, first, before focusing on the brand and product – the prettier things.