One of the most frequent comments I hear from successful female entrepreneurs is, “I waited too long to bring my product to market.” These awesome women knew, long before Mark Zuckerberg or Sheryl Sandberg started chanting it, that sometimes done is better than perfect. You do not need to sacrifice quality for speed. Instead, you exchange the safety of making plans in your office for the invaluable experience of direct interaction with potential customers.
I met with Giovanna Aguilar and Nicole Franklin, co-founders of Midnight Media Capture a company that helps marketers tell compelling stories to engage audiences online. Midnight Media combines Aguilar’s marketing and production acumen with Franklin’s years as a filmmaker, producer, and editor. They launched their business in a day. Here’s how you can too.
Innovate your experience. Aguilar and Franklin knew that their years of experience and their passion for marketing and filmmaking could somehow be combined, and that creative and practical insights from filmmakers could and should be shared with marketers.
Do you have experience you can apply to a different market? How can your expertise serve the unique needs of another type of buyer? Every marketer, no what kind of company he or she represents, needs to connect with his or her market on a personal level. This requires shifts in skillset and mindset that Aguilar and Franklin help create through their film industry network and their personal editing and story-telling expertise.
Support and nurture partners. It would be really hard to go from idea to business, hold down a job, and support a family, all on your own. Aguilar and Franklin both have busy personal and professional lives, complete with day jobs, families, and other commitments. Starting a business together enables them to accelerate the start-up process through collaboration, creation, and shared responsibilities.
They established a collaborative culture from the start, feeding off each other’s creativity. They pulled from their networks to help market, sponsor, and build and deliver content that aligns with their unique value proposition.
Who in your network can help you build your business? Find partners who fill gaps in your expertise, network, and capacity requirements. And be open to new ideas and new ways of thinking.
Prioritize time-to-market over perfection. For many, this is the hardest part. You want your best representation in the market and can easily get caught in analysis paralysis. You worry that a less-than-perfect marketing pitch and campaign or a product that doesn't solve 100% of a problem for all customers is not market-ready.
Aguilar and Franklin disagree: “Act fast,” they say. “There is no perfect time to launch your business. Go with your instinct and bring your experience.” The founders spent their first day deciding why their audience (marketers) needed help from the film industry and how Midnight Media would bridge those two worlds.
They spent the weeks that followed creating content, reaching out to their contacts to book well-known speakers, and converting existing business relationships into sponsors for a flagship event.
Give yourself a timeline to launch, and work backwards on what has to be done and by when. Don't compromise on the timing. And don't worry. As long as you ask for input from your customers and partners, you’ll hone your pitch and your offering as you learn more about what's working and what’s not.
Focus on the money and delivery. You do not need to give away the farm in order to get early customers. Aguilar and Franklin spend their time only on things that help them make money and encourage their target audience to become and remain customers.