Ever hear the phrase "all dressed up with no place to go"? I think about that phrase every time I see a new startup begin to spread its wings as it emerges from the birds' nest. Up to this point, you have spent countless hours creating product, possibly securing funding from friends and family, even developing your initial customer base. Now you need to make sure the world knows about you.
It takes a little time, but you must establish your company's presence on these five platforms in order to be viewed as a real player:
A Website. Seems like a no-brainer but I am still amazed at how many startups don't have a web presence. Worried about cost? For $9.95 you can buy a web domain, and for another $9.95 a month you can utilize a hosting provider who also includes free web tools like WordPress. With just a few hours of work you can have a site up and running. Remember, your future customers, partners, investors and employees will immediately look for you on the web. Don't miss out on that opportunity to tell people who you are.
Company Email Address. I hate it when someone gives me an email address with a gmail extension. I hate it even more when they try and game the system with email@example.com. It signals to me that you don't think your business is worth the $9.95 per month for the website AND free email addresses that come with it. The email addresses are included with the cost of the website. Or set up a Google Apps account for $5 per month per email address. Either way--tell me that you are serious.
LinkedIn. This is the social platform for professionals. No LinkedIn account? You are sending a signal that you are not operating within the current professional construct. With less than an hour of your time, you can set up a biography about yourself and craft your words to support your current goals. When the same partners, investors, customers and employees search for you, they will see your LinkedIn profile.
Facebook or Twitter. I think I just heard you groan. Relax; it's easy and you can limp in if you want. However, if your startup company will target consumers (not businesses) you have to have a Facebook and Twitter presence. Not sure how to get started? Ask your kid or your niece or the college kid next door. Make sure you keep the usernames and passwords after they are done. If you have a personal Twitter account, keep that for friends and create a business account. Facebook has an easy way to create a company page. Establish a strong presence on today's communication platforms.
AngelList (www.angel.co) is an emerging platform to connect startups with investors and employees. If you are in the tech space this is a requirement. In this same category you can also set up a crunchbase and F6S profile for your company. Look up these funding platforms and get comfortable with the fact that these are means to an end.
Building your business requires many hats from building product to doing the books to securing office space. Don't forget to create your online presence so that others can not only see you but they can feel secure that you are the real deal.