Failure To Launch: Why Every Startup Should Have A Blog

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Failure To Launch: Why Every Startup Should Have A Blog

 


I wrote an article about blogging for small businesses this weekend (posted to the other blog I write for Small Business Hub internet marketing blog). 
 
Shameless plug:  I’m trying to get this new blog off the ground.  If you’re interested in small business innovation and technology, please visit.  

In any case, the article on small business blogging sparked some thoughts.  Though it’s important for many types of small businesses to have a blog, I think it’s even more important for a startup to have a blog.

The hard part is that startup founders already have a ton to do (building a product, plotting strategy, recruiting co-conspirators, etc.) so finding time to blog is really hard to do.  Besides, of all the things you could be doing as a startup founder, is writing a blog really all that useful?  

As the old cliché goes, “you have to dig a well before your house is on fire…”.  Well, you have to start attracting clients before you have a product, you have to start talking to investors before you actually need capital and you have to start communicating your vision before you actually launch.  A blog helps do this.

Reasons Why Startups Should Have A Blog
 
  1. Find Co-Founders:  One of the biggest challenges for many entrepreneurs, particularly first-time ones, is finding appropriate co-founders.  There’s evidence that the probability of startup success goes up with the number of founders.  The reasons are mostly obvious [Note to self:  Write future article about this so called “evidence”].  Most of the people that you would deem “worthy” to join you in your startup are likely going to want to learn a ton about you.  A blog is a great way to communicate your passion and vision and find like minded people.  Though you could go to networking events, have speaking engagements or do other promotional things, a blog is much more efficient.

  1. Find Employees:  Similar to the motivation above.  If I were an employee looking to join a startup, I’d want to read about how the founders were thinking about the business before I’d join.  We’re entering another tight labor market and it’s getting harder and harder to find and recruit the right kind of people.  A blog can help you make sure the right people find you (and select you).

  1. Find Early Customers:  Though success in the blogosphere is often fleeting, and only attracts the “early adopter” types, getting these early customers is still important.  A lot of these people read blogs because they’re passionate about the area that they work in.  

  1. Get Early Feedback:  A blog is a great way to start getting feedback (some good, some great, and some crap) about your product idea and strategy.  I’m not a big believer in “stealth mode” (for most startups), and lean towards getting some type of external market validation early.  A blog provides a vehicle for those that are passionate about the area you are working in to let you know what they think about your offering.  If they think your product sucks (and it actually may), at least you have a chance at finding out why.

  1. Find Investors:  Not all startups need to raise capital, but some do.  If you’re thinking about raising funding, a blog is a great way to communicate the “larger vision” of what you are out to do.  Investors also look at what kind of “street cred” you have in the blogosphere.  At the core, investors are looking to properly assess the “risk” associated with your startup.  Any evidence you can show that you have a clue about what it takes to succeed in today’s competitive landscape helps.  Show me a startup that has 20,000+ visitors a week coming to its blog and I’ll show you a startup that has a higher chance than average of raising funding.


Lest you think I’m not heeding my own advice, my co-founder and I have committed to writing an article a week for our new blog (http://www.smallbusiness20.com).  This blog is basically associated with our current startup, HubSpot  and seeks to become a resource for the types of clients we want to attract some day.  (Right now, HubSpot is still pre-launch – somewhere between alpha and beta).

What are your thoughts?  Do you have a blog for your startup?  Are you thinking of starting one?  What’s holding you back?

Posted by admin_onstartups.com admin_onstartups.com on Mon, Sep 18, 2006

COMMENTS

**Even more shameless plug warning**

Dharmesh go ahead and kill this comment if you like :)

Red Canary encourages startup bloggers to cross-post from their company blogs to our website (a Canadian-oriented source of articles and insight for startups) You get free traffic and extra awareness without having to do any extra work.

posted on Monday, September 18, 2006 at 11:44 AM by Trevor Stafford


As you know I have number of blogs. However, http://manojranaweera.wordpress.com is the most used. http://ebdex.wordpress.com is dedicated to ebdex. http://eipp.wordpress.com is dedicated to EIPP - yet to do anything with it.

Successes: MD of a Partner, an expert in accountancy field, an expert in security.

I love to find investors and others. By the way this UK and not USA. So things are bit slow

I would recommend blogging to anyone

posted on Monday, September 18, 2006 at 11:45 AM by Manoj Ranaweera


Great Post! We have a blog for our startup at Mobivity, but it has been hard to decide what to reveal to the public before the launch.

I have received great comments and suggestions from my readers, and now believe that stealth mode only limits your exposure to valuable feedback.

posted on Monday, September 18, 2006 at 11:51 AM by Greg Harris


Question.
Is it a mistake to discuss ones competitors on a blog?

posted on Monday, September 18, 2006 at 12:04 PM by gary


Gary: Not necessarily a bad idea to discuss competitors on one's blog.

But, I would lean towards focusing on your own offering and why you're passionate about it. The danger of talking about competitiors is that it may come off as arrogant, dismissive or defensive (none of which are good).

posted on Monday, September 18, 2006 at 12:06 PM by


I agree 100%. In the spirit of "Release Early and Often", I started a blog for my start-up as soon as I started working on it, while it was still the germ of an idea being hashed out over drinks with my first customer.

I plan to move the blog from blogspot.com to my company's domain as soon as the issues discussed in the Sep 14 entry are resolved.

Check out http://tales-from-a-startup.blogger.com. I will be updating it at least once a week. I would welcome comments, criticisms, and whatever wisdom you have to offer. At the very least, stop by to enjoy the ride (and increase the impression count for my ads :) ).

posted on Monday, September 18, 2006 at 1:47 PM by SF


I agree 100%. In the spirit of "Release Early and Often", I started a blog for my start-up as soon as I started working on it, while it was still the germ of an idea being hashed out over drinks with my first customer.

I plan to move the blog from blogspot.com to my company's domain as soon as the issues discussed in the Sep 14 entry are resolved.

Check out http://tales-from-a-startup.blogspot.com . I will be updating it at least once a week. I would welcome comments, criticisms, and whatever wisdom you have to offer. At the very least, stop by to enjoy the ride (and increase the impression count for my ads :) ).

posted on Monday, September 18, 2006 at 1:48 PM by SF


With all the rbots and spiders out there caching everything they find, are you sure this is a good idea?

How much public information about what you're doing is too much?

posted on Monday, September 18, 2006 at 4:18 PM by Anonymous


To Anonymous:

The whole point of my blog is that I want to get the content out there and get people reading it. As I say in a recent entry, my biggest regret is that for reasons that I am working diligently to change, I cannot yet put my own name and ugly mug up there as well.

I am not putting my patent applications on my blog, just the content that I would want to share with potential investors, employees, customers, critics, and general busy-bodies. Before anyone can do business with me (as a customer, partner, vendor, employee, etc), they have to know me. This is my way of casting the net of people who know me a little wider.

Right now it is still very thin just because I started posting last week. It will grow over time and give a better picture of who I am and what my company is.

SF

posted on Monday, September 18, 2006 at 4:56 PM by SF


Not exactly complementing the topic but still a short comment echoing it.

One should be blogging before he decides to open a startup for the reasons of the above but even if not to get a more lucrative job (in any sense it may be). Somebody told that you're actually blogging for your boss, the current and the future ones:-)

posted on Monday, September 18, 2006 at 9:36 PM by Roman Rytov


I disagree. I don't think that every startup should have a blog.

Blogs are a fine thing but they grow best out of having something to say. If you've got something to say, create a blog. But don't create a blog just to have one.

Although you might get some benefits out of having a blog, it isn't really the best way. It's just a side effect. If you want any of the benefits listed above, there are better ways of getting them.

posted on Monday, September 18, 2006 at 9:49 PM by Dan Howard


This post made me remember the old saying, "you never want to partner with someone who wants to partner with you." Think about that for a second; if you're just getting started, you only have a blog about an idea. I've been contacted through my blog by startups before who were looking for employees. The one constant here is that each business plan was begging for disaster. Honestly now, would you want to work with someone who just contacted you because of a series of stories about a company that doesn't exist yet?

posted on Tuesday, September 19, 2006 at 1:45 AM by Chris


Thank you Dharmesh! This is not only a "shameless plug", but also qualifies as "serious sucking up."

http://therainmakermaker.com/2006/09/19/blogging-for-business.aspx

posted on Tuesday, September 19, 2006 at 6:24 AM by Rick Roberge


I'm very glad that Dharmesh had suggested that startups create a blog in a prior post. I thought is was great advice and startedwww.shopyield.com

The space that I work in is highly competititive so I need to be private about what I have developed until ready to launch. I can blog about the industry that I'm in and how different participants and institutions are influencing its development.

And I do want to connect with people and a blog seems to be a very useful vehicle. Blogs are not big in financial services but I have found some early adopters and put them in my blogroll.


posted on Tuesday, September 19, 2006 at 11:59 AM by Cate


I like the idea of having a blog but I'm on the fence for my own website,www.startup-business-info.com. While I want to get the information out to the folks who want or need it, I also want to devote more time by adding relevant content in lieu of a blog. Maybe I have this backwards but that is my perception at the moment.

posted on Wednesday, September 20, 2006 at 10:06 AM by David


Depending on the business, you might want to set up a few other web presences. I made a post about a friend's small business here - http://blog.stewtopia.com/2006/09/05/small-business-and-social-media/ about some sites she might consider.

posted on Wednesday, September 20, 2006 at 5:33 PM by randy stewart


I think I might probably be the youngest (read : most amatrue) startup venturer here.
But I think I'm sold to the idea of Business Blogging. There is obviously the time constraint factor, which, presumably is the most common excuse. But rest assured, after visiting most links on this page, I have taken a solemn vow to start blogging as soon as it is humanly possible (Nice loop-hole, what ?)

posted on Thursday, September 21, 2006 at 2:50 AM by Raseel


Dharmesh, I am confused. Are you saying that an entrepreneur should reveal his/her idea for a startup (ie.e no stealth mode) even before a co-founders are "found" and key employees are hired? Maybe I am just simple minded but others with better people/money connection might get the lead if I just blab on a blog.

I am intrigued about the blog notion you propose and use but did you do that before you launched the company?

posted on Friday, September 22, 2006 at 4:27 PM by Gary Valan


Comments have been closed for this article.