As an entrepreneur, you are duking it out in a competitive environment. To get and attract customers and investors, you can take a lesson from the animal kingdom: appear bigger and stronger than the competition.
Luckily, the Internet makes this easy. Just because you’re a small startup run by a lone entrepreneur or a small team doesn’t mean you can’t look just as imposing as more established companies in your industry. While you may want to be seen on all the latest online platforms, focus your efforts on the basics: have a great website and invest in your profiles on websites frequented by investors.
Redesign your website
Your website is your storefront. It’s often the first thing potential investors see, so take the time to make it professional and informative.
Don’t reinvent the wheel
It’s easy to spend a lot of time you don’t have on imagining the slickest designs and bells and whistles for your site, but before you go that route, take a look at your competitors’ sites. If you imitate and improve on their sites on every single page, you’re off to a promising start.
Websites are made for people, not for robots. Luckily, these days it’s easy to satisfy both their needs: simply use the language your potential clients use when they search for information related to your industry. If you don’t know if you are on target, look in your site analytics suite for the search terms visitors use on your site and research keyword ideas in Google’s Keyword Planner.
Your contact info is gold
Visitors to your sites can be gone in seconds. If there’s only one thing that they get out a visit to your site, make it your contact information. Include a phone number (a 1-800 number if appropriate), an email address, and a contact form so that potential investors and clients can use the mode of communication that works best for them. Also make sure that your contact information stays up to date. If you’ve moved, your site should have your new address and the correct map, and you should make sure search engines display the most recent info. Go to Google My Business to start managing your company’s Google contact info and to keep it up-to-date. You can do the same on Bing Places for Business.
Make your site mobile-friendly
So much of the internet browsing happens on mobile devices today. Investors, like all of us, are busy people and consume much of their content on the go. If they can only see 40% of the site on their small screen, they will quickly tap away. Test how well your site displays on a variety of devices and make sure you pass Google’s mobile test.
Optimize your LinkedIn profiles
With so many social networks at our fingertips, we’ve all been trained to think of a new acquaintance as a new “connection,” but only a few of us will proactively go to the website of that new person’s business. So you also want to make a great first impression on LinkedIn and make it easy to get from your profile to your company’s website.
Treat your LinkedIn profile as a resume
Think of your LinkedIn profile as a resume—for yourself, your company, and your team. Investors don’t just invest in companies, they invest in teams. LinkedIn lets you feature both, so make sure both are well presented.
Choose a professional profile picture
Most investors will see your face on LinkedIn before they see it in person, so give some thought to the picture you choose. What first impression will an investor get if the profile picture is fuzzy, taken from too far a distance, or is marred by distractions in the background? A professional headshot is your best bet, but if you only have amateur photos in your library you can start with a free service like PhotoFeeler, where users vote on how professional and likeable you look in various pictures, and if you look like a leader in your profession. You may be surprised to find that your favorite shots significantly underperform compared to pictures you don’t particularly like.
Include a summary
The description for your role at the startup should not just include what you are responsible for, but also the 30-second elevator speech for your company, along with a link to your website. Make it as easy as possible for your potential investors and clients to discover and be delighted by what you do.
Create a company page
This may seem like extra work if you already have a company website, but again, many people will find your company through LinkedIn or go to your personal profile first. The company page should contain a description of your company, a logo, and a link to your website.
Post on LinkedIn
If you are investing time and money in creating blog posts on your site, you can reach a much wider audience if you also post links on your LinkedIn company page. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to push your content, which ultimately helps establish your brand and demonstrate thought leadership in your marketplace.
Manage your investor-facing profiles
In the recent years, the role of matchmaking platforms that connect startups to investors has grown, so it pays to keep your profiles up to date.
At Lighter Capital, we often look up potential borrowers on Crunchbase. It gives us a quick glance of their capital raising history and the investors that have been involved. This information helps us understand their stage and financials. We also use Axial, a matchmaking platform between entrepreneurs and investors.
There are many others to choose. AngeList is a common one and probably the most well known. You should try them all, do your due dilligence, and stick with the ones that are most productive for you. Here’s an article about four online platforms you should know when it comes to raising capital.
Invest in the social media channel that matters
Social media is absolutely an extension of your company’s website. Consider your industry, your audience, and your resource capacity, then pick the networks that will help you have the biggest impact on your audience. The key of managing social media channels successfully is to create consistency, which will require time and resources, so prioritize and focus. Consider starting with one or two channels—the last thing you want to do is to have five social media profiles that are stale and unmanaged. A social media account that hasn’t been updated for more than two years makes a much worse impression than not having one in the first place.
Gearing up to fundraise?
This guide explains explains the most important components of a successful fundraising strategy and how to prepare.