Startups - Use the World as Your Workforce

This is important, and let me illustrate it with an example. When starting out with Cloudalize, our cloud computing startup, our CTO – co-founder was initially responsible for the website. The reason was obvious; he had the technical knowledge to create websites and we had no money. It’s common sense, right? But allowing him to spend time on creating the website we made a critical mistake.

Why? Well, there are 2 vital reasons:

  1. The CTO must dedicate all his time to building the product. Website creation doesn’t call for his level of expertise and can be done by anyone that has the proficiency.
  2. The website is part of the responsibility of the commercial team. The website must be based on the things we learn during the development of customers (early value propositions, pain points, solutions, etc.). While the CTO will have extremely high technical competence, he may not be the best person to helm a marketing activity.

Website development is a task that can easily be outsourced to virtual assistants. And that’s a first of example of working with professional virtual assistants.

Early-stage Content Creation – Build an Audience

As you, as the one responsible for demand generation, go through the early stages of the startup, while the technical team is busy building the MVP, you should invest that time to develop the first potential customers (ie. customer development).

So during product development, you have the opportunity to create relevant content for your potential market and establishing the company as a thought leader in the ecosystem. Goal; by the time the product is ready for its official release, you and your company will be identified as the ones that are knowledgeable about the subject.

But, content marketing takes a while to build a critical mass before it really gets noticed. So creating and publishing relevant content as early as possible is always beneficial. It isn’t enough to just build content from a standpoint of SEO presence in Google.

Instead, while creating that content, force yourself to overthink your value propositions from the end user’s point of view. And this is another advantage of starting with content marketing from the very beginning. This way you will design your content to allow you to collect information from the market, which can be used to further fine-tune the product. It’s during the creation of stories that your insights ‘mature’ and content creation continually contribute to the fine-tuning and optimisation of your business plan. Experimenting is critical to finding the right product/market fit and it can be done via landing pages (or in other words test websites) and blog posts; all needing content in the form of text, illustrations or video.

Start creating content now and make sure that the content has a professional look to it right away. But while you need to create professional content, you are alone, and in most cases, not specialised in copywriting or using apps like Adobe Illustrator.

So what do you do?

The rise of virtual assistants

There is no reason why you will not be able to publish professional content, from day one. All you need is the right assistance. For example, if you create an article or blog post, publish it only after getting it thoroughly checked by a copywriter.

But where do you find a good copywriter, and at limited costs? With limited funds (because start-ups always have a cost constraint), a traditional marketing agency is not an option. As a startup, you need to look for ways to “steal time at lower costs”.

This is where the possibility of crowdsourcing should be leveraged.

The creation of illustrations, websites or articles can be cheaply subcontracted to a force of millions virtual assistants worldwide. And they are much better than you at doing those specific tasks.

At Cloudalize, we started using virtual assistants at a very early stage for a whole range of tasks that needed to be done. One of my first collaborations with a virtual assistant was to create new and unique illustrations for our new website.

Using a virtual assistant platform (99designs.com in this case), we hired a designer from the Philippines to design the illustrations for our website. Cost? Between 5 and 25 dollars a piece, depending on the complexity. With a budget of a few hundred dollars, we had a website filled with custom made graphics and illustrations. If we had used a traditional marketing or design agency this would have cost us thousands of dollars.

Example of graphics developed by our illustrator from the Philippines. source: www.cloudalize.com

The website and landing pages will change over time as your understanding of the market and your product fit evolves. You may want to keep making changes to stay aligned. If you plan on making changes to the website yourself, I suggest you use an ultra-simple CMS systems that you can understand.

Though you cannot, or may not want to, outsource everything to people you never see, my advice is – don’t underestimate them. Many of them are experts in their own fields and execute at a speed and knowledge level you may not find even in your own country.

I’m confident that the use of virtual assistants today is just the tip of the iceberg. We will see more and more independent professionals in the future, hired whenever required, working with high levels of competency and professionalism, from any and every part of the world.

In case of questions, feel free to message me.