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Published On: Tue, Apr 24th, 2018

Got an Idea? 6 Key Things to Do While You’re Still Pre-Revenue

Every entrepreneur endures a pre-revenue period during which they focus on fleshing out their idea and laying stable groundwork for a prosperous enterprise that consistently produces positive cash flow.

For some founders, this period can stretch for many months, even years. For others, it’s relatively brief. The duration depends largely on the nature of the startup, the pace of product development, and the founders’ success in attracting early-adopting customers.

photo/ Gerd Altmann

No matter how long your pre-revenue period lasts, it’s important to make the most of it. Focus on doing these six things well before you begin to see significant cash flow.

  1. Set Up a Company Website

Before you begin publicizing your startup in earnest, set up a company website. Don’t worry about directing traffic to it yet; it’s more important that the site is live and relatively free of bugs. As the rest of your marketing apparatus comes into focus, you can use it as a springboard to build leads, attract your first crop of customers, and generate organic interest from media and industry influencers.

  1. Leverage Your Personal Network to Attract Early Adopters

Many successful entrepreneurs draw their first customers from their personal networks. Individuals with just one or two degrees of separation from you and your team are more likely to trust your company and its products, after all. Be persistent but polite in your outreach to friends, colleagues, friends-of-friends, business associates, and others.

  1. Roll Out a Social Media Presence

To start, set up a LinkedIn profile and Twitter handle. If you’re a consumer-facing enterprise, create a Facebook page and Instagram handle as well. Use these platforms to tease pending product launches and build lead lists.

  1. Establish a Formal Legal Structure for Your Company

Don’t neglect to get right with the law. Speak with a business lawyer to determine the most advantageous structure for your company: LLC, partnership, S-corp, C-corp, or something else. Establish your entity in the state of your choosing, whether that’s your home state or a jurisdiction with business-friendly laws, such as Delaware.

  1. Run a Beta Test

Before you begin advertising to the general public, run an invitation-only beta test for members of your personal network and committed leads you’ve attracted through your early, low-key outreach efforts. Use the results of this test to make further tweaks to your product ahead of its full market debut.

  1. Focus Your Resources on Deploying a Minimum Viable Product

Some startup experts prefer to think in terms of “minimum lovable products,” which are typically better-developed than the traditional “minimum viable product.” Regardless, it behooves you and your company to deploy a market-ready product as soon as possible, even if it requires iteration after the fact.

Focus the bulk of your human and financial resources on developing this product. Secondary and tertiary initiatives can wait until your MVP or MLP is pulling in real revenue.

Make Your Five-Year Plan Now

Most entrepreneurs aren’t sure where they’ll be in five years, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t think in five-year increments. If you haven’t already done so, sketch out the broad strokes of your new enterprise’s medium-to-long-term development: revenue milestones, key hires, funding rounds, and possible exits.

The more you think out your company’s growth phase, the better positioned you’ll be to take advantage of opportunities. And, remember, you can always adjust your plan if conditions change.

Author: Zainab Sheikh

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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