Every entrepreneur and startup founder raises the same question in the beginning: “How can I get traction?” The feeling of experiencing traction in the early phase of a startup can arise from many things: it may be numbers that express your rapid growth, customers who give you great feedback, accomplishing a first round of pre-seed financing, or making a big deal with your most important vendor. Traction can have many faces but in the end, it means the market starts to adopt your product or service. Through this adoption, your idea turns into an innovation.
So how can you generate this traction for a startup in the early days? What can you do to bring your solution into the market? How can you boost adoption and turn on the growth engine? Raise these 9 questions to generate early traction for your startup.
#1 How can I change lives?
The first thing you want to feel certain of is your startup’s vision. What is it that gets you out of bed every morning? Which problem are you addressing? How will you change the future of people? Talk with as many people as possible about your vision and refine it until you can convince people within 30 seconds. If you cannot explain your vision in a short soundbite, then you have to spend more time getting to understand it. Break it down, keep it simple, and make sure it is understandable.
#2 Whom will I help?
Knowing your target market is essential for generating traction. As a startup, you will initially target a small niche. Try not to only define your target market as a group of people, outlined by demographics. Imagine how your product or service is going to be utilized out there. In which moments does this happen? What is your target customer experiencing? Why is there a need for your solution? What attributes outline this moment when somebody checks in and needs your help? (Who? When? Why?)
#3 What makes me unique?
Your clear USP (unique selling proposition) helps you to stand out in the market. What is it that makes you different from the other solutions your target market currently utilizes? Do you have some exclusive new features on board? Do you save the customer time or money? Focus on creating unique awesomeness: build a really great product that incorporates at least one thing that nobody else provides.
#4 Who can help me to build my solution?
A typical behavior of us entrepreneurs is to try to do too many things by ourselves. We want to do it better and therefore we want to have our hands on it. That might not always be the best solution. Try to find partners and vendors for your product development. Aggregate the services of others, connect them in a unique way, and build something totally new out of this collaboration. This will help you to run on a healthy budget.
#5 Who can help me to spread the word?
Nowadays we can simply create a new product, build a small website, send out a few posts on Facebook and our sales will happen automatically. Right? No. Do not underestimate the effort it takes to make sure your target market really adopts what you have to offer. Partners and influencers can help a lot as they spread your message in a trustworthy way. A good network of partners will provide valuable support by leveraging your marketing efforts.
#6 Why should anybody trust me?
When people make a buy decision, trust plays an important role. Why should anybody trust your solution or you as the provider? Influencers, referrals, testimonials do a great job in building trust. What can you do beyond this to demonstrate that you are trustworthy? In a B2C setting, you may ask: Am I responding fast enough in customer service? In a B2B environment, you may ask a different question: Am I reliable in my business relations?
#7 How can I have more conversations?
In the early days of each startup, interaction is really what brings you up to the next level. Do not stay in your garage to tinker on your product for ages. Go out and talk to people! Actionable advice: create a simple landing page, mockup your solution, ask them to join an early access email list, and spread the word. Build your list of early adopters to connect and engage with. These contacts will help you in product development and marketing.
#8 Am I doing the right thing?
The further the progress in your path of launching a successful startup, the more decisions you will have to take. How shall you ensure that your decisions are the right ones? Also, you will often face times where you question if you are doing the right thing. Notably, the road to success is a turbulent one. Leverage your list of contacts to have as many conversations as possible. Ask for feedback and let them help you to make better decisions!
#9 How can I measure traction?
There is no success if you do not measure what you do. Define your relevant KPIs and have an understanding of what numbers mean ‘traction’ to your startup. Which are the key things to focus on and to measure your success? Set yourself goals and measure everything. The more numbers you collect, the better they can support your decision making in the long term.