How to Know You Have a Good Startup Idea?

ArtemK

Omi Sido in conversation with ArtemK (Artem Kroupenev) – enthusiastic start-up entrepreneur with focus on the business side of a venture.

The simple answer is research that involves speaking to potential customers.

If you can find a substantial group of end users willing to use your product, and a substantial group of customers willing to pay for your product, your idea is good.

Start with the Internet and see if there’s anything similar out there. Chances are, there probably is. Don’t let this deter you; competition is a sign that there are people out there who may find your idea useful and pay for it. If you find that the market is dominated by large players, you should look for other industries where your idea could be applied, or see if you can make a substantial innovation upon existing practices. Otherwise, move on to a new idea.

If your preliminary look-up is promising, proceed to a down-up research methodology.

ArtemK

1- Segment the market 

This will include a good amount of brainstorming and research of possible applications for your idea across industries, markets, market segments and finally – end users. Select 6-12 industries, 1-3 market segments for each industry, and 1-3 potential end users for each segment. How will your idea be applied by each of these potential end users?

2- Narrow the opportunity

Ask the following questions about each market segment (borrowed from MIT’s Bill Aulet):

-Is the target customer well funded?
-Is the target customer readily accessible to your sales force?
-Does the target customer have a compelling reason to buy?
-Can you today, with the help of partners, deliver the whole product/solution?
-Is there entrenched competition that could block you?
-If you win this segment, can you leverage it to enter additional segments?
-Is the market consistent with the values, passions, and goals of the founding team?

3- Speak to potential end users

The next step will be to contact some of these potential end users and actually speak to them about your idea. Ask what they like about it, and why they think it wouldn’t work. Listen to their pain points. Learn as much as possible regarding the 7 questions provided above. You will learn more from these conversations than from all the Internet research in the world. This process could take a few weeks, but it will be paramount for validating your idea. Pitch your idea often, but don’t try to “sell it”. Adjust your pitch as you get additional feedback from potential customers.

4- Select your “beachhead” market and estimate TAM

After speaking to potential end users, you will have a good feel of which market may be more attractive for your idea. Since startups usually have very limited resources, the key word is focus. You need to select only one market to test your assumption. The beachhead market should be comprized of a group of customers who buy similar products, expect similar value, and have “word of mouth”. What’s more, the market should be rather small to allow you to specialize quickly.

Next, estimate the size of your beachhead Total Addressable Market (TAM). TAM is calculated by multiplying the total number of end users in your market by the expected annual revenue per user. According to MIT’s Bill Aulet, startups should avoid beachhead markets of under $5 million, and above $1 billion, with the sweet being spot around $100 million. I’m sure many seed stage investors would disagree, as they would like companies to go after larger markets and more substantial returns, but I think that there’s a lot of merit in conquering small segments in order to expand.

5- Move to validation

If you have performed the above analysis, you are on the right track with validating your idea. The next steps will include creating a customer persona, and getting feedback on the actual solution you will try to provide.

Further validation will include MVP/prototype testing and variable testing of your value proposition with a larger group of potential end users.

……………..

A good methodology that will put your idea to a scientific test will help you stay focused and objective. Good luck with creating the next unicorn!

 

ArtemK (Artem Kroupenev) – enthusiastic start-up entrepreneur with focus on the business side of a venture. Founder of AssetLane – a startup company offering a revolutionary web-based financial platform, which will create new opportunities and paths to liquidity for international equity owners and investors.Founder of www.choozerjobs.com – Choozer is a platform that allows companies to hire better employees faster by combining incentive-based employee referral programs with the leverage of their employees’ social networks.

Funny SEO Video

Funny video about what ‘the man on the street’ really thinks about SEO.
As ironic as it may sound, the true triumph of SEO is the fact that very little people – if not no one – is aware of it and most of all how it works. But as a business owner or a SEO professional you cannot afford not to have this knowledge and you should use it to your advantage.

People do believe that if your business is in the first 5-6 in the list then your business is the best. Although we can all agree that there is a grey area in this regard, this video shows that SEO is more important than ever. Quality content, catchy Meta Description Tags(ready my previous article) and go make some  bucks (money) people….

The Importance of Meta Description Tag

meta description tag

Meta Description Tags are a great way for website owners to provide a vital marketing information to client search queries.Yet so many people don’t understand the importance and the impact they have and they are still widely misused.

Before getting into any details let me get one point very clear: Meta Description Tags do not affect search rankings in any way, but saying that they are very important in gaining high click-through rate. In a way the best “organic ad text” you can get when people are inquiring about your product.

meta description tag

I said “organic ad text”, so lets stop and think about this one for a second because I’d really like you to understand the power of the meta description tags.
Ad – write a compelling and action-oriented meta descriptions for all your individual web pages. If you can’t think of anything different do not duplicate your meta tags – leave this job to the search engine. Meta description tag created by the search engine is always better than a duplicate one. To make sure that your value proposition stand out check all your closest competitors page descriptions and then write a better one! Always, and I can not stress this one more, always write for the visitors and not the search engines. Putting together lots and lots of keywords and create awkward sounding phrases won’t get you very far in the search engine results page (SERP), even if you are ranking top 5 for a given keyword. And last but not least – incorporate a call to action!
Organic – By using keywords you can increase the click trough rate of a given page. How? Well keywords matching the user query will be displayed in bold by search engines, thus drawing attention to the eyes. Can not be more organic than that. People are coming to you because they see something they are looking for. But they only gonna come if they see it.

By now you should be getting the big picture. A well written and planned meta description can give you a huge advantage in search engine results page (SERP), resulting in more visitors to your website and more chances to convert them into leads or new customers.

meta description tag

Is there a case where it’s better to leave the Meta Tag Description empty?

Well the logic above says that there should not be a page with empty description. But in all honestly in case of a multi-page catalogs, shopping carts or blogs with multiple entries that are targeting long tail keywords it is better to leave the search engine to create the meta description. The reason being is search engines always pull out the keywords, but also the surrounding phrases the user has searched for. When deciding whether or not you gonna leave a page without description (and those should never be your “main”pages) always consider the probability of this page being sheared on the social networks. No description in my experience means something random and inconsistent gonna be displayed, thus ruining the impression of your website. Social networking websites are very powerful tools for converting leads into customers,so you don’t really want to present your business there with random words.

Recommended Length

The recommended length for meta descriptions is 155 characters including spaces, but Google may cut it shorter if it would exceed two lines based on pixels. Interesting post here on the subject: http://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/page-title-meta-description-lengths-by-pixel-width. Although I wouldn’t worry too much about it and stick to the 155-160 characters, the wisdom here is: always to put your important keywords in the beginning rather than the end. For the very cautions its worth mentioning that for articles Google sometimes will display a date which will eat up some of your maximum characters allowance and the new limit is 139 characters including spaces. For most of you Twitters this “new” length should not be a problem I believe.

meta description tag date

When it comes to capitalization use whatever case you want, but I’m still gonna give you some tips. If Google do use your meta descriptions unlike titles it will keep the case of your characters. Naturally capitalizing important words can draw attention. Never ever use only capital letters throughout the entire text. Same can be said about lowercase letters. And last but not least: don’t capitalize every letter just because you can especially For Really Long Sentences, Because This Can Get In The Way Of Easy Readability and Quick Scanning From Searchers Who Are In A Hurry.

So to put everything together. Meta Description Tag gives you a lot of control of what people see before they arrive to your page. The truth is they will not arrive there at all if your don’t show something compelling, unique and attractive. Those are statistics,not an opinion. Now go on and give your SEO and click-through rate a boost. You can thank me later.

Be A Hero – Create a Second View In Google Analytics

Create a Second View In Google Analytics

I am amazed at how many people nowadays don’t have a second view in their Google Analytics (GA) account. It’s true I’ve never seen a proper GA tutorial about setting a second view and most of all the great importance of having one, but still, it’s kind of logical don’t you think?

Let’s call the default view created by GA  “raw view” and let me write this down in capital letters: One day when you least expect it everything in your GA account gonna go nuts and the “raw view” gonna save your day from a data disaster. And you gonna be very thankful to Omi Sido. You may even pop in and buy me a beer.

Everything started a week ago when two non-related companies asked me to comment on some strange anomalies in their GA accounts after setting up some filters a while ago.

So my first question: Shall we compare the data to the “raw view”. No “raw view” or “second” view is their answer. So my second question: “What?!”.

How the “raw view” gonna save your company from a data disaster.

The “raw view” is the one sitting quietly in the background of your GA account (never ever touched), collecting information and waiting to become a hero when the other views (did I say that some colleagues would even create a third view for some extreme situations) crash down.
For example and in connection with the story above – you gonna need this view when setting up filters. Only by comparing to the “raw” view you are going to be able to check whether the difference is trustworthy and whether you have to re-do your filters. Quick logic here: How do you even know if your filters are working they way they are supposed to if you don’t have two views?!

How to set up your “raw” and “second” view.

By default when you set up your GA account you are presented with the default view or in the words of GA – “one unfiltered view for every property in your account”. Never add or delete a filter to this default (“raw” as I call it) view. When you add a filter the data you exclude becomes unavailable for this view, hence only add the filters to the other views. Logically when you delete a view the historical data in this view disappears forever.

Although you should not set up filters in the “raw” view you can set up goals there. Despite not being harmful I wouldn’t do that, as you probably don’t want to have your goals in a view that you don’t visit that often.
One very important note here: It is not possible to import historical data into the new views.
“Creating a new reporting view will provide you with unfiltered access to all data collected by the Tracking ID.” If you rather make a copy of existing view than all the goals are copied over to the new one. Again in both cases – no historical data(!).

The technical part of the process is rather simple. You just go to Admin, View and in the drop-down Create a new view. Give it a meaningful name and also for the sake of security rename the default view to something scary – “Raw View- Do not touch or I will kill you” – for example.
What to do if you only have only one view now: for a start don’t panic- you are already doing something right by reading this article, so the easiest thing to do is copy the existing view, rename it to using the “convention” above and clear it from all filters. The copy of the existing view, in my opinion, should have today’s date in the name as like this you gonna know exactly when created. Don’t forget all the goals and filters gonna be copied over so you don’t have to worry about them at the moment.

Now enjoy the moment. You are a future hero.

Don’t Waste Your Time On Facebook

Don’t Waste Your Time On Facebook

If you asked me 3 years ago “Is it worth creating a Facebook page to promote my website?” I would have given you a big “YES”.
Nowadays despite me promoting all social media interaction (in connection with SEO), my answer is categorical: Facebook is not worth the time and effort!.

Don’t Waste Your Time On FacebookThe main problem lies in the number of people a page is able to reach organically. Pages have a much harder time making it into the Newsfeed because of Edgerank. Due to this mind blowing algorithm pages are only able to reach between 8 to 15% of their audience on any given post. Pretty low don’t you think? Or shall I say – pretty depressing for the time and effort involved in creating a post?

See the Edgerank algorithm is not there to promote your page, it is there to make you pay Facebook to promote your posts. So in order to reach more audience, a business page is left with two options:

  1. You get more likes, comments or shares on your posts.
  2. You pay Facebook to promote your posts.

So let’s talk about the first part: Facebook doesn’t take into account the type of audience you have. If your audience is very active – say you are promoting a rock band, Rihanna or some Goth Erotica Clothes (the young generation, the short of money generation), then your posts/page will be more visible. If your audience is not that active you begin to see your reach gradually declining until your page is almost nonexistent to your followers. Facebook doesn’t care about your brand – it’s all about the way Facebook see things important. I’ve seen serious accounting firms posting “Like if you hate Monday” with the odd picture of a drunk employee just to get some likes/activity on their business page. In fact, I can tell you that promoting business through a Facebook profile in a way is a lot more rewarding, but that’s another topic.

So don’t waste any more time on Facebook and concentrate on the platforms that really give you value for the effort of your employees. By value, I mean: if the marketing email is good people gonna get back to you. If the Google+ post is informative, authoritative and relevant customers will stop and read it. Not to mention the searchability and the ripple effect. At my current company – Global Real Estate Institute – sometimes we invite our guests to be on the Podcast and within hours we are getting thousands of replies.
So to put all this together: whether or not potential customers read your articles depends on whether or not you are giving them something interesting or valuable enough to pay attention to. In the Facebook case, there is only one variable – The Edgerank algorithm.

Just before I finish this article I’d like to give you a good advice. Don’t destroy your relationship with Facebook pages completely – just start auto posting your articles there. As in all social media if anybody replies make sure you respond and engage in a conversation. Direct all your work force power towards social media that gives you value for brain effort involved.

Link Building, Online Marketing and Google Ranking

Link Building

Nowadays Link Building is an important part of website marketing – in fact, perhaps THE most important. It is the most important factor considered by Google to rank your website high. Imagine each link like one vote, but for the vote to be legitimate the link should be of good relevance. If you don’t understand the word “relevance” than you are in the wrong business – don’t mind me as Google will be the judge penalising you in no time.

On the other side “Link Building” sounds like something you should go and do in no time- quickly, ruthlessly and in great amount. Sounds like something not very organic, but Google nowadays is all about “organic”. Think in any other way and your website quickly disappears from page one.

Link BuildingIt may sounds like catch 22 until you realise that its not about just “Link Building”, its all about relationship building or shall I say authority building. See Google really likes backlinks to your website assuming that people are linking to you because they find your content informative, authoritative and relevant. If they link to you its because you give them value and Google is all about providing value for its customers. So in a way forget about Link Building and start building your authority website by offering people high valuable information (products, services etc.). Once the authority is in place no search engine will ignore you, but rather rank you high for its customers as now you/the search engine is giving them value for their search queries. Higher rank in search means more people can find you, but in our case also means more people want to link to your website. And suddenly it all becomes clear.

In the end let me put this all together by citing the head of Google’s Webspam team Matt Cutts: “The objective is not to “make your links appear natural”, the objective is that your links are natural”.

Sunday Gifts – Modern Web Essentials Using JavaScript and HTML5

Modern Web Essentials Using JavaScript and HTML5 e-book

We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
― Winston Churchill

It’s Sunday again so I’ve got a new “code gift” to give you. If you want to develop for users of different platforms, than this book is for you. It’s packed with responsive design principles, JavaScript essentials to help the eager coder to achieve modern web look and functionality.

Modern Web Essentials Using JavaScript and HTML5 e-book

By David Pitt – Sr. Solutions Architect and Managing Partner of Keyhole Software

Download it here

How To Remove Blogger Attribution Gadget?

People always ask me “How To Remove Blogger Attribution Gadget?”if none of the other tricks work. Well you know my answer: In web development if nothing else works use the old fashioned CSS.

The Attribution gadget is the gadget in the footer that says “Powered By Blogger”.

How To Remove Blogger

If you have tried to remove this then you may of noticed this gadget is locked into you blog. To unlock it, follow the next steps:

Step 1. Log in to your Dashboard, go to Template > Edit HTML

Step 2. Click anywhere inside the code area and press the CTRL + F keys to open the Blogger’ search box

Step 3. Type or paste the following tag inside the search box then hit Enter to find it:
</head>
Step 4. Just above </head> add this code:

<style>
#Attribution1 {
display: none;
}
</style>

 

Step 5. Click on the Save Template button to save the changes.

That was all !

Google Universal Analytics is here to stay. Get used to it.

Google Universal Analytics

Google announced last week that Universal Analytics is out of beta and is now being rolled into primetime. People ask me: Is this really going to change anything?

If I have to be short, its gonna change everything.

Google Universal Analytics completely replaces the technical aspect of how online data is collected so there is a completely new way at how we track and analyze our customers. Instead of tracking the anatomy of a visit, now it tracks the behavior of visitors. Apart of tracking websites and mobile devices, GA can also track point-of-sale systems which means we can also get information form offline conversions. All of these mean now we’ve got access to a new wealth of information from which your business can make informed, data driven decisions. Let me repeat this one: informed, data driven decisions.

 Google Universal Analytics

Shall we start using Universal Analytics now or later. Well I am afraid its not about “if”, its more about “when” as eventually all of us will be forced to upgrade.

For those still not ready to retag their website Search Discovery has a free JavaScript tool called Airlock that will automatically convert your page tags for you. Airlock gives you the ability to start taking advantage of GA Universal Analytics while phasing in all the tags that will have to be upgraded.
Still start thinking now- this is not just a good advice, this is a warning.

Google has fundamentally changed their concept – what’s the reason? Essentially, the change to Universal Analytics tells us that the way user interact and the web in general have become a lot more sophisticated. No longer we can do our marketing without putting into account offline interactions. No longer we can relay on a visit-based tool as the psychology of the visit becomes more and more important. The old method does not fit the new model, so the old method has to go.

Universal Analytics is here to stay. Get used to it.

PS Some useful links:

Universal Analytics is out of beta: What the heck does that mean?
About Universal Analytics
Upgrade to Universal Analytics