To build a startup, entrepreneurs need a laser focus on providing an innovative solution to a real problem. Once they achieve that initial traction, the focus needs to change for quicker growth. Most entrepreneurs dream of achieving the exponential expansion of a Google or Amazon, but few investor pitches I see outline any strategy beyond simple marketing to make this happen.
Investors are looking for innovation in the growth strategy, to match or exceed the innovation in the technology and solution. Conventional marketing may be adequate for linear growth, but it probably will not take your startup to the exponential growth of a large-scale movement.
While searching recently for the most effective strategies of companies that have achieved exponential growth, I came across the book “Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World,” by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler. These visionary thinkers outlined in their book a set of modern accelerated growth strategies that I believe every entrepreneur should adopt:
1. Build a community of evangelists. Become a conduit for people to talk to each other, and feel like part of a special community. According to Seth Godin, it is also necessary to engage them with the message from you, the leader, about where you want to go, and the change you want to take place in your world. This incents word-of-mouth on steroids.
2. Nurture partnerships with many other organizations. Playing well with other organizations in cyberspace and in the real world is more effective than trying to move the mountain alone. Build a list of specific organizations that can help you, and how to engage them. Organizations bring their own communities to exponentially grow yours.
3. Incent friendly competition with prizes. People love to compete. Give community members incentives, rewards and challenges as a way to square off against one another, and they will show up. Diamandis created the XPRIZE and Singularity University, which created huge movements and exponential growth for related businesses.
4. Go into battle against a common rival. One of the best ways to strengthen a community is to take a stand, and find a common enemy. Attacking an issue that affects many potential customers allows you to focus on providing solutions, and lets your community do the selling. Refrain from ranting and raving or bashing the enemy.
5. Deliver edgy product demonstrations. New products being used in innovative and unusual ways spark buzz and attract followers. The opportunities are endless, with the Internet of Things, wearable technology, driver-less cars and new fashion trends. Get your community involved in both the idea and the delivery.
6. Host events to bring your community together. Events can also be in cyberspace, or anywhere in the real world. These encourage members to band together and share experiences based on common interests, and strengthen ties to your brand. Do not forget that when planning an event, your ultimate goal is incite people to advocacy and action.
7. Maximize your online brand and media presence. Do not forget the basics of search engine optimization, social media engagement, video marketing and courting influential bloggers. Your online brand is what your community thinks of you when you are not available. Creating and updating quality content is required to maintain visibility online.
These strategies are exceedingly effective when applied to solutions that are derived from one of the accelerating new technologies, including networks of sensors, infinite computing, robotics, artificial intelligence and 3D printing. They also work well in building movements based on social causes, environmental change and health initiatives.
Another modern name for business community building strategies is crowdsourcing. With crowdfunding early — and crowdsourcing to build a community throughout — entrepreneurs can massively increase the speed of business evolution in today’s hyper-connected world. Why not make your idea an unstoppable movement, and not just a business?
Image credit: CC by Brad Montgomery