Online Payments: Ultimate guide for startups

Starting a new company, need to receive payments online.

No worries,

In this article we are going to explore:

  1. Various online payment Gateways and
  2. their pros and cons, lastly
  3. Which one is should you go for, with regards to where you are:
  1. Canada
  2. USA

If you Live in Canada here are your options:

  1. Square (squareup.com)
  2. Flywire (flywire.com)
  3. Moneris (Moneris.com)
  4. PayPal
  5. Stripe
  6. 2Checkout
  7. Shopify payments
  8. Amazon Payments (US only)
  9. TD Bank portal

Stripe:

Stripe is a payment processor made for startups and developers. They have  an excellent api and documentation. You can take one time payments organise subscriptions and have extensive reporting regarding payments.

Many Silicon valley startups such as lyft, instacart, taskrabbit etc use stripe for online payments.

Stripe also has many integrations such as:

  1. Docker
  2. Docusign
  3. Marin
  4. Tableau
  5. Hubspot
  6. splunk
  7. optimizely

Fees:

Regarding fees stripe offers 2 plans:

  1. Pay as you go
  2. Enterprise

In pay-as-you-go Stripe charges 2.9% + c$0.30 per transaction. Payments arrive on a 7-day rolling basis. Plus if the customer is using an international card an additional fees of + 0.6% apply and if you provide international customers ability to pay in their home currency an additional fees of +2.0 % will apply. Volume discounts are also available if you earn more than c$50000 per month.

Stripe also comes with mobile sdk and Apple Pay:

Here are the full features of stripe:

Stripe features are categorised as

  1. Aceepting payments
  2. Process
  3. settle and reconcile
  4. manage

Accepting payments:

Pre-built UI components: Use Stripe’s pre-built UI components to design your own custom payment form.

Embeddable Checkout: Get a prebuilt embeddable checkout form to add to your website. With just a few lines of code you get pre-built checkout ready to serve customers.

Checkout Api’s: Create your own unique checkout experiences with Stripe.js Api’s.

Invoicing: You can also use Stripe to invoice US based customers, customise the invoices to match your custom branding, payment terms and accept cards as well as ACH payments.

Open source plugins: With a variety of plugins available for Stripe you are spoilt for choice. Here are some: 1. WordPress 2. Magento 3. WooCommerce etc

Payment Options

Cards: Cards from all over the world work with stripe including: VISA, MasterCard and American Express

Wallets: Stripe works with almost all the major Pay wallets. Here is the list:

  1. Apple Pay
  2. Ali Pay
  3. Google Pay
  4. WeChat Pay
  5. Visa Checkout
  6. Microsoft Pay
  7. MasterPass by Mastercard

Local Currencies : Process and display charges in customers local currency. Stripe supports currencies of 135 countries

Mobile:

Accept payments from iOS Android or mobile website, with Stripe mobile Api’s you require no backend changes and only a few lines of code:

Process Payments:

Stripe has a pre processing layer that lets business get closer to multi-regional direct connections to major card networks including Visa, Mastercard and American Express.

Here are the sub features for the Payment optimisations:

Retry Logic: automatically retries technical refusals through alternate means

Smart MCCL Automatically assigns Merchant Category Code according to your type of business for maximum auth rates

Updates Card Accounts: Automatically updates expired cards or renewed cards to reduce failure rates. Stripe does this by working with card networks to update customer card data.

Payments and Disputes: 

Stripe fraud prevention tools are best in business including a machine learning fraud prevention system, transpareant risk scores custom rules engine, real time fraud insights.

According to stripe statistics there is a 89% chance that a card has been used in the stripe ecosystem.

Stripe has to an extent also eliminated a lot of manual work related to handling disputes with their end-to-end automated process that works with card networks such as visa. They submit evidence that’s most likely to see the company win over the consumer.

Settle and reconcile:

Through Stripe API and Dashboard you get real time data

Through Stripe API and Dashboard you get real time data about charges, refunds and transfers.

Financial reporting: stripe gives advanced financial reporting capabilities, reconcile cash transactions with those recieved form cards and merchant gateways – every deposit in stripe is tagged with a transfer report containing  details of the transactions like at what time the transaction happened what were the fees involved etc.

You can also create monthly reports and transacton level balence breakdown stripe also has custom reporting via the API

Accounting support: You can automatically sync Stipe data with your accounting software ledger. or export stripe data into csv 

Payouts

Stripe gives you a dashboard so that you can see the timing of the payout and the expected date you are going to receive them, you can also get unified payouts in your own curriencies from different cross border transactions. Or in select regions opt to receive money in different currencies.

Manage Payments

Get reports about consumer data with custom sql query support pre built queries and core metrics. Get mobile apps for consumer analytics as well.

Business operations

Give roles and permissions to employees keep sensitive data protected while allowing tailor made access to speacific employees.

High security 2 step authentication for login gives you peace of mind 

Also you can attach notes to payments for your team members to review.

Third party integrations:

Stripe offers a whole lot of third party integrations from accounting, analytics to email chat apps like Shopify slack iftt etc

Get 24 X 7 support via EMail phone and Chat

PayPal

Paypal is another very popular alternative to receive payments online. You can receive payments via PayPal credit card and debit cards

Paypal offers fully customizable cart integration with receive, customers can pay without leaving your site you can even accept payments over the phone fax and email.

with paypal you can accept 25 currencies from 202 countries. PayPal offers two plans one normal PayPal with 2.9% + $0.30 fees and a pro plans that has access to api’s and other goodies with $35 per month and 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.

PayPal offers Detailed order management you get logs, monthly statements and transaction history 

One unique feature that PayPal offers is the virtual terminal with it you can process phone orders, fax orders and mail orders around the globe.

2Checkout

2Checkout is another checkout that is widely used with support of 87 currencies and 15 languages you can accept debit cards credit API’s and even paypal.

2 checkout also offers api and integration with over 100 + shopping carts, you can also opt for hosted inline checkout experience with customers having the feeling that they are still on your site while making a payment. 

Or for complete custom experience use the API’s to built a interface for yourself.

With 2 Checkout you can have recurring billing advanced fraud protection and advanced analytics they even have a monetization platform called avangate.

2 Checkout charges 3.4% + c$0.45 per transaction plus an additional fee of 1.5% if the customer is from outside of Canada. 2 Checkout also charges an of 2-5% above daily bank exchange rates for customers outside of Canada.

If there is a chargeback 2Checkout also charges a fee of $25. In my opinion, 2 Checkout is one of the pricier options.

Moneris:

Moneris is Canada’s leading payment providers. Moneris offers both Hosted Pay Page as well as customizable API.

Moneris offers a variable fees across cards plus a flat fees +0.08% 

Moneris also offers 24/7 on call customer service. Although Moneris offers online payment options it is more of a onsite product, packed with many features to receive payments from cusotmers on site. 

Shopify payments

Shopify Payments

Shopify payments is the easiest way to pay if you are using Shopify already. Needless to say, it is seamlessly integrated into Shopify. Depending upon what Shopify account you have rates vary. For the basic account, you have 2.9% + c$0.30 for domestic cards for international cards you have 3.5% plus c$0.30 per transaction and it reduces as you go up.

you can see dashboard and payment analytics on the Shopify dashboard. Well, that’s basically it. If you are using Shopify you can opt for Shopify payments

TD bank portal 

TD bank is recognized all over Canada as a trusted bank and they also offer trusted merchant banking solutions with all the services that you need.

Virtual solution, Hosted solution and customised solution

TD also has all the standered features like online reporting etc

Square

Square is a nice alternative to receive money online. It charges a fee of 2.9% + c$0.30 per transactions. One good thing about square is that you can get your money as soon as next working day. They also offer square dashboard and an iOS app to access real-time data and powerful analytics tools.

Square also has phone support if you run into any problems.

Square has APIs as well you can either integrate a pre-built square form or integrate it with your preexisting website with the help of apis

square also integrates with a lot of third party systems like CRM ERP and many other business and accounting solutions

Square also offers point of sale solutions such as accepting cards with mobile phoens and square swipe devices to accept credit and debit cards.

Flywire

Flywire is another contender in the race to help businesses accept money. With customers such as Expedia, Hilton and Volvo, flywire also has a host of services on offer

Features:

  1. easily process international payments
  2. bill international customers in their own currencies with competitive exchange rates 
  3. Get automatic reconciliation of your invoices with many of the third party accounting systems
  4. Get a dashboard to monitor fund transfers online.
  5. Get 24/7 customer support available in multiple languages.

Hi, I am Mohammed full stack javascript developer with expertise in NodeJs angular react and Vue JS. Contact me for freelance work at [email protected]

Delaware LLC vs C – Corp

The Definitive Guide for Startups

So you are working on your new startup and you have your business plan , the money you are going to invest in your business and even figured out operations and marketing.

But some question remain.

What sort of business entity to form (LLC / C-corp/ S-corp) and where?

Many startups and VC funds favor Delaware to form a company.

In this article I will let you know:

  • What are the benefits of forming a company in Delaware?
  • What are the disadvantages of forming a company in Delaware?
  • Should you form an LLC or a C Corp or an S Corp? 
  • How can you form a company? What are the costs involved

Note: This is not a legal advice and I am not a lawyer, please consult your lawyer before taking any decisions.

Benefits of forming a company in Delaware

Delaware has a reputation for being liked by startups and Venture Capital funds for the following reasons:

  1. Corporate Law
  2. Privacy
  3. Startup costs
  4. Tax purposes
  5. Few formalities
  6. Easier to raise investments
  7. Structure

Corporate Law

Delaware has a special court of Chancery for law disputes and strong protections for companies that are incorporated in Delaware.

The outcome of cases in Delaware is more predictable because of the following reasons:

  1. A large volume of cases are recorded in Delaware hence there is a large base of precedents that can be looked into and hence there is less uncertainty if there is a case filed against your firm.
  2. Delaware special court of chancery has judges with corporate law backgrounds, hence cases are decided quickly and with justly as compared with courts where judgment is in the hands of ill experienced juries.
  3. As more than 60% of fortune 500 companies and a large number of private and public enterprises are incorporated in Delaware, more corporate attorneys are familiar with the Delaware laws and it’s more convenient to hire a lawyer.

Privacy:

You don’t have to name your shareholder’s officers and directors publicly. Only in the case of law enforcement you need to release these names. Hence it provides a layer of privacy.

Startup costs

There are minimal startup costs in Delaware. In Delaware, you can easily maintain an LLC with $300 in yearly costs and a C corp with $800 in approx yearly costs.

If you are forming a C corp. even a single person can perform multiple roles of the shareholder, officer, and director. In other states, you need at least 3 people.

Tax Purposes

Following are the tax benefits of incorporating the company in Delaware:

  1. There are no corporate taxes in Delaware if you do business in another state.
  2. There are no royalty payments or taxes on intangible assets such as patents.
  3. There are no taxes for non-resident individuals or entities (that is if you don’t reside in the forming a don’t do the business in Delaware you don’t need to pay income taxes, sales tax or any other kind of tax)

Investment

Many investors and Venture capitalists prefer Delaware because of they are familiar with the business laws hence it is easier to get an investment in your firm if you are registered in Delaware as compared to other places.

Disadvantages of forming a company in Delaware:

Drawbacks start when you are incorporating in Delaware and aren’t actually doing any business in Delaware. If you do that you will need to re-register the company as a foreign entity in the state in which you are actually doing the business.

Hence now you will have to do 2 filing instead of one and you also need to hire an agent and pay annual fees to them to pass on the legal notices and formalities for you.

Difference between an LLC s and a C – Corp

In Delaware and in fact anywhere in the United States, the most used types of corporations are LLCs and C-Corps.

What is an LLC?

An LLC is a type of company which is organized in an operating agreement.

An LLC is organized as a contract between members(owners) stating how it will be run and how the income and liability will be split between the memebers.

A few common characteristics of LLC:

They are designed to provide a corporate veil and a limited liability to the founders. That is moving liabilities, debts and obligations from the owners to the company to the company itself

LLC provides pass-through taxation that is generally the owners pay personal income taxes on the income earned by the business.

Formalities that are required by corporations such as board meetings, corporate resolutions directors issuing stock and drafting bylaws are eliminated. The LLC is governed by the contract between its partners, the contract itself is not required to be disclosed to the public hence it is easy to maintain and operate.

LLC can also be easily converted into a c corp. Converting a Delaware LLC to a Delaware corporation is straightforward and common enough that only a few forms are required to be filled to complete the process.

How to form a Delaware LLC: 

Forming a Delaware llc is quite easy you just require 2 things:

  1. Filing a certificate of formation
  2. Documenting your operating agreement

Before filling for the certificate of formation you must decide on a name for your firm and check for conflict with the Delaware Secretary of State. It can easily be done online.

Delaware does not require you to publicly release your name while filing for the certificate of formation, but you can include it if you wish to.

A certificate of formation must include:

  1. The name of the LLC
  2. The name and address of the registered agent
  3. The signature if the authorized individual

Delaware registered agent requirement:

You can form a Delaware LLC without visiting opening an office or maintaining a bank account in Delaware. However, the Delaware state act requires you to have an agent if you do not have an office in Delaware. You can hire one of the many agents available online just search for a Delaware registered agent, they charge anywhere between $120 to $300 per year and forward any document and legal stuff that the state sends you

Delaware C corp:

A corp is a full-blown corporation, they have shares and can also be listed publically and traded in the stock exchange

C corps are designed to be an abstraction between the operators of a business and owners of a business which may  or may not be operationally involved

Owners are called as shareholders and ownership is tracked by shares i.e more percentage of shares a person has. a more economic entitlement as well as the operational control they have over the company.

Characteristics of C-corp

Corporations are intended to provide limited liability to the shareholders. Shareholders are not liable for the debts and the of the company. If they have invested money in the company they can only lose the amount they have invested and nothing other than that

As a corporation, it is taxed separately from its owners i.e the shareholders. The corporations have extensive filing obligations, plus the shareholders are taxed again on their income.

Feasibility and suitability

LLC is the best choice if you wish to have a side project or have a bootstrapped company

LLCs are well suited for these companies because Intellectual property can easily go from members (owners) to LLC and vice versa plus there is minimal paperwork and hassle.

On the other hand C corporation requires a lot of ceremony for example s shareholder resolutions and meeting before Intellectual property can be transferred plus it is a big hassle, and time, as well as money, is required to run a C corp as compared to an LLC

International Owners

While the United States or Delaware does not impose any restrictions on citizenship or permanent residents for owning an LLC or a corporation. Owning a LLC for non residents noncitizen of the United States might

complicate the matters Non-resident owners of the  LLC in the United States are obligated to file income tax returns for income their LLC’s earn

For example, if a non-resident is an owner of an of an LLC in the United States. They will have to pay taxes in the United States for the income earned by the LLC and might have to pay taxes in the home country as well ( depending on the laws of the home country) thus resulting in double taxation.

Investment

Many venture capital firms and investor prefer c corps because the flexibility accorded with LLC require’s them to do extensive legal due diligence before investing and many do not prefer expensive legal work as a requirement to of in a company.

C corp is a corporation with standard laws and terms. So many investors prefer and require companies to be converted into C-corps before investing.

this article is written by Mohammed Lakkadshaw who is a javascript and Node JS developer. I am available for freelance work. I am neither attorney nor accountants, and this information should not the be considered either legal or accounting advice.

Tax loopholes while forming a Corp as a startup 

Thers is a lot of flxibility for planning your taxes in the c copr. A LLC will have to wait a few years to take advantage of tax benefits but an C copr can enjoy its benefits in the first year itselfd

These benefits are called as fringe benefits. What fringe benefits mensa that a company can give its employees benefits and deduct them as expenses for tax purposes.

The only condition is that the benefits must be for an array of employees not just the owners but if the only employees are owners, the owners can take benefit of this. these benefits can pay for health insurance or disability insurance of employees

In additionof owners pay themselves salaries, these salaries can be deducted from the c corps profits as running expenses plus c corp can retain earnings for future expansion as long as it complies with the appropriate tac provision s

C corp can deduct all business expenses such as cost of goods sold fringe benefits, salaries etc after all these, there is little income left to be taxed

C-corp also face lower taxes  on retained earnings  this is unique to C corps of the owners can use the tax savings to further expand their company

DeadSimpleScreenSharing 2: Open source browser based self-hosted screen sharing

This blog post is about a project that I have built, which is called DeadSimpleScreenSharing 2, which the next version of DeadSimpleScreenSharing, and it is much better and faster than the previous version.

It offers audio conference out of the box and supports sharing your screen with any number of users just by sharing a URL, and it is very high quality and super fast.

I am also offering a self-hosted version of the application that you can run on your own server, and the self-hosted version is also white label so you can rebrand it with your organisation’s brand name.

So, here is how you can use this super simple service:

Step 1: Go to http://deadsimplescreensharing.com and click the “Host a Meeting” button

Step 2: It will take you the chrome extension page, where you’ll have to install the extension

Step 3: After installing the extension, click the extension icon, and a window will appear, in that window click the “Host a Meeting” button

Step 4: Done! Your screen is being shared, you can share the URL with others so that they can join your session.

The definitive guide to being super productive in life.

In this blog post we will discuss ways in which we can be more productive.
To answer this question we must first ask what do we want to become productive in.

Productivity is always in context to work. What work we want to do first need to be determined.

What do we want to do Everyday?

We got only one life to live and we have to decide what we are going to do with it.
To do that we will have to do certain things.

Think about what do we want in our lives, When we get old What would we consider a life well lived?

Write those things down and write down what we are going to sacrifice for it cause nothing in life is free.
Everything we do in life, every opportunity we take, we lose other opportunities we could have taken.

In finance we called this opportunity cost. If you are investing in bonds you are losing out on the opportunity of investing in stocks and losing out on investing in real estate and all other investments we could have made.

When choosing a way of life, you are losing out on all the other ways of life that you could have lived.

When living a life, always consider your options before starting, cause as time passes we are set in our lives and it becomes somewhat difficult to change our ways. We should do so if we still have the chance. Cause you can’t live a productive life if you don’t like what you are doing.

If you ask me what my goals are, this would be the list:

  1. Being an awesome entrepreneur, giving my company and my client the best work of my life. Getting the kind of work satisfaction that you get when you know that you have done the best work you have ever done before.
  2. Having time for my family and friends.
  3. Earning a lot of money.
  4. Having time for my hobbies like video games.
  5. Heaving good health physical as well as mental.

At this point in time, this is what I want in life. This could change in the future because of new knowledge or circumstances. But, for now I am pointing my life in this direction

Importance of time.

Time is the only commodity we all get the same. You and I have got the same 24 hrs a day as Beyonce, Tim Cook, Mark Zuckberg or any other human being in the world. Time is the most expensive commodity in the world cause No matter how much amount of money or power you have, you don’t get 25 hrs a day.

“ If you love life don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of”
— Bruce lee.

I give my time and the time of others highest priority.
I spend my time like I spend my money doing a price/ value analysis. What is the value I am getting after investing x amount of it. Is the value sufficient enough for me to be investing time in it. If I think I will be regretting it later I don’t invest my time in the activity. Now, value could be rest, entertainment, work satisfaction, time spend with family etc.

More people than not hear this advice and ignore it. Saving little bit of time is like saving and investing money, You save a little time here and a little time there and you have a lot of time to do the thing you really wanted to do but didn’t have time for.

An important way to maximise time is dividing your day into fifteen minute slots and giving specific work some slots of that time.

Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla does this in his life.

Reducing Clutter

There are two kinds of clutter

  1. The clutter of mind
  2. The clutter of physical stuff.

Files on the computer, notifications from twitter, Facebook, email subscriptions you don’t read. These all things competes for your attention,

apart from these, the clutter in your office at home, things that you buy and have no use of or the things which you brought at some point in time and are just lying around all contribute to clutter, and it creates the nagging feeling that some works need to be done and is not done yet, bills needs to paid etc.

Clutter reduces the ability of your mind to think clearly. It reduces the ability of the mind to focus and to process information according to neuroscientists at the Princeton university (https://unclutterer.com/2011/03/29/scientists-find-physical-clutter-negatively-affects-your-ability-to-focus-process-information)

Avoid Multitasking

Doing many things at once. Checking email, writing up a presentation, doing research.
We all do multitasking to one point or the other, but why do we do it, cause

“Multitasking gives a great feeling of work being done”

but, actually little or nor work is done when you multitask according to research done by Zeng Wang [http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/multitask.htm]

According to research multi-taskers are really bad at work, doing multitasking not only

  1. takes up a lot of time for work to be done.
  2. Reduces the quality of work done.

Why?

Believe it or not, when we multitask, we don’t really work on multiple projects simultaneously. We can only really work at one project at a time. We switch context when we start working on the other thing at hand so in reality we really are doing
one job for a little amount of time and then switching over to the next job.

While this happens our brains has to have the relevant information about the work at hand and has to do rational thinking about it as well.

As we switch more and more contexts brain gets tired and slow and loses its flow.
hence multitasking
we make mistakes
It takes a lot of time
gets us real tired

All for nothing, Instead single work at a time saves a lot of time energy and results in great work done

this is what I do personally on my life

I do one and only one thing at a time.

If I am working I am not browsing Facebook, Imgur or reddit for leisure.
If am riding my bike I am not thinking about work.
If I am spending my time with family, I am not thinking about any other things.

Having discipline in life

One of things in life to live happily is to have discipline in life. Making your own rules and living by them.

”If a person can control himself, he can control the world.”
— Ancient Indian saying

Controlling oneself is one of the most difficult things in life. But, the rewards are so very great. You can have the best goals and the best plans in your life but without a disciplined approach its useless.

According to study by Wilhelm Hoffman

”People with high self control are happier than those without.”

Ways to achieve self discipline.

According to research done at Stanford University.
Will power works like a metamorphical muscle, the more with exercise it along with good nutrition and sleep it gets better with time.

So, if you want to have self discipline.

Eat healthy.
Exercise or go for a walk.
Research suggests that walk reduces stress levels, increases creativity and improves self discipline. If you fail sometime, forgive yourself and start again with renewed rigour.

Deciding on what to do tomorrow.

Having a clear plan as to what you are going to do today helps a lot. Usually take a lot of time thinking what they are going to do today and managing and replying emails and other stuff in the morning. Which is a really bad time to do this sort of thing.

Cause it takes up a major chunk of the morning time and by noon you haven’t really done anything and there is a whole lot of work remaining. Invariable there is stress.

I used to waste my morning on emails and scheduling. But, I learned if I did these things in the evening before leaving the office. I have my work set of for tomorrow morning. You won’t believe the kind of work that gets done by noon if you don’t have to go through that scheduling and emails.

Delegating tasks, saying NO and minimising distractions

You should not really do everything your self. But delegating tasks reduces the things your brain has to think about.

That is a really very very nice things.

The less things you have to think about, the more deeply you will think about them.

a lot of psychological studies states that the brain is like a muscle gets tiered by making decisions. It has a limited capacity to make decisions and this capacity get recharged after sleeping. That capacity will invariable increase as you use the brain, but in the short term it is constant.

Use that capacity of brain on the goals of your life and delegate as much small stuff as you can.
Try to minimise/avoid the distractions and rather than abstaining from them.

Many well known personalities wear same clothes daily, so as to avoid thinking what they have to wear today.
Examples include:

  • Steve Jobs Black turtleneck blue jeans
  • Albert Einstein grey suit no socks and unkept hair.

How to get customers for your startup- A comprehensive guide.

Marketing and selling products and services for your newly created startup can be a difficult preposition. But, it can easily be done if we think about it logically.

Let’s Start:-

For the sake of understanding, let’s assume we have a SaaS (Software as a Service) startup. We sell something that helps early stage entrepreneurs build their enterprises.

Defining a Persona

Now lets have a look at who our customer is and try to build a persona of our ideal customer.

Some things to consider:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Martial status
  • Education
  • Income
  • Interests
  • Aspirations in life.
  • Employment.
  • Where does he/she lives

For our startup, our customer is the founder of an early stage startup, and his name is Mike.

  • Mike is a male
  • He is 27 years old
  • Mike lives in San Francisco,
  • Single and a graduate in business,
  • Mike has a job and makes around 100k/ year.
  • He wants to start a startup and make it big in life.
  • Mike does’t know programming or design and has to rely on other people for these skills.

Now, we have got Mike but,
Mike doesn’t know about us
nor about our awesome product that is going to help him make it big.
We have got to find him and tell him.

Where can we reach mike?

We might be able to meet mike in places where he generally hangs out, like:

On the Social media sites:

  • twitter
  • facebook

And Website which provides startup news and updates:

  • product hunt
  • betalist
  • hackernews
  • inbound.org

Apart from this Mike is also reading stuff about entrepreneurship and success on sites like:

  • entrepenuer.com
  • thenextweb
  • lifehacker
  • Medium
  • Forbes
  • VentureBeat
  • etc.

Mike also does a lot of things in the physical world:

  • Mike visits technology meet-ups.
  • Mike visits coffee shops, building his business plans
  • Mike visits trade fairs.

What does mike want ?

Since Mike is starting a early stage startup, he is probably looking for ways to:

  • build a website,
  • Build his product
  • Market his product,
  • Looking for people in his network who might be be interested or willing to help him with his startup.
  • Maybe he is trying to pitch his idea to investors
  • Looking for a small office space or a Co-working space among many other things.
  • Mike might even be looking for his early employees or freelancers perhaps. That might be designers and
    developers to help him build his product.

At this point in time we have got Mike with his early stage startup and we know what does Mike wants and the places where he hangs-out and the people he hangouts with.

Now we have got to get to Mike and help him succeed in his startup.

Why do we want to do that ?

Because Mike does not want to buy our SaaS product. Mike wants to succeed in his business. And we are not going to sell our SaaS product to him. Mike will buy a resource from us that is going to help him achieve success in his business.

Marketing that does not look like marketing is the best kind of Marketing.

Up till now what we have done is

  1. Customer Profiling: Identifying who our customer is.
  2. Identifying distribution channels: Finding out where our customer is.

From now on, We will help our customer find us.
There are two ways we can get this done.

  1. In the physical world.
  2. Over the internet.

We can choose both ways or we can choose any one based on our resources and which we think might work best for our product.

The Physical World

We can go to the meet-ups, where mike is hanging out.
To the coffee shops where he is working on his business plans.
To the trade fairs where he might visit to sell his product.
Out-side Co working spaces where he might be visiting.
We can talk to him and tell him about our product and how we can help him.

OR

We can
Find out his contact number/email and call him or email him.

Cold calling is an awesome sort of Marketing, you just need to know whom to cold call and how to execute. People out there have real problems to solve and if we can help them. It is going to be great business.

(One of the biggest examples of cold calling working is today’s business environment is AppAftercare  app maintenance business by Einar Vollset.

It is an awesome company, He even runs a course explaining how he markets his products.)

And we can speak to Mike, tell him how awesome our product is and how he is going to be huge success by using it.

Over the internet

We have already figured out where Mike hang outs over the internet, We just need to reach out to him and help him out with his Business.

  1. Building a Side Project.
  2. Teaching.
  3. SEO

1. Building a Side project.

A side project can be a website or a tool that does some kind of leg work for Mike.
For example
Mike needs to get a lot of things done.

He needs a Website, a logo, he needs legal stuff done, he needs to find designers and developers, he needs productivity tools. He needs to learn basics of coding or design. He needs photos for his blog or social media posts etc.

If we can build a tool or a side project that can help Mike in achieving his objective. He is going to come finding us.

One of the awesome companies that are doing this kind of thing is: Buffer

Buffer is company that helps entrepreneurs schedule their social media posts. They need to attract people who are into social media.

They have a side project called:

  1. Pablo is website that helps you design images for your social media posts. This solves a big problem for Entrepreneurs and social media marketers.

When Mike is searching for photos for twitter post and he stumbles-upon Pablo.
He gets to know that there is this SaaS company called Buffer which helps him save time
on his social media marketing and he is likely to buy from them.

2. Teaching

Blogging is a very well known tool for inbound marketing. But what to blog is thing to consider. We need to only blog things that are going to help Mike.

Actionable content, Content from which mike can take away something from and apply to his life and business and get results.

A study by New York Times, claims that the likelihood of an article being shared is the most for articles with
practical utility. articles with actionable content gets shared the most.

Ideas to blog about?

We already know a lot about Mike. Lets just think what would be the core idea Mike would like our advice on?

Answer: Entrepreneurship and success.

Well, this is just one thing. What are the other complimentary things we could help Mike with.

Complimentary ideas

  • Productivity
  • Marketing
  • Getting startup ideas
  • Validating startup ideas
  • Building an MVP.
  • Getting funding etc.

Apart from writing an article, you could also make video or podcasts or slide-share. But the basic idea between all these mediums is the same, that is to help the customer achieve success in his/her pursuits.

And writing an article is just not enough. We will have to tell Mike we exist and here is an awesome article which would be a great help to him.

Distributing your Side Projects/Articles and doing SEO:

Well we have a great SaaS product, a great tool to help Mike and we are also writing awesome articles.

How are we going to make Mike come to us?

Well we know where Mike hangs out on the internet. We can just through stuff on the social media and hope and pray that Mike reads OR we can be proactive in our efforts to reach Mike.

Here’s How:

Now, there are certain people on social media who are called influencers. These people have a large amount of following.

We will need to find out certain influencers who would be interested in distributing our free tools and blog articles to their network of people on social media.

How we are going to do that?

With a certain tool called as Followerwonk, which is available at MOZ.com It helps us sort influencers on twitter with certain keywords in their profile or bios.

for example. If our tool is an open source product. we will sort people with open source in their bios and see if they post other people’s open source products on twitter.

Then we will contact them and ask them to distribute our product.

We could do something similar for product hunt as well. Product hunt is an awesome network that lists digital products.
Though we don’t have followerwonk for product hunt. Product hunt has hunters and we can contact them on twitter and ask them if they will hunt our product.

This same thing we are going to do with our Blog article. One thing to remember though: The quality of our content should be top notch. The better the quality of our product the more viral it will become.

One very good side effect of this will be people will start linking to our blog or free product page.
For example some one is writing some post and they might link to us as a reference. This is going to increase our SEO.

Or someone might be listing free resources for Entrepreneurs and
businesses and they might list our product.

Alternatively, we can also search for blogs on google.
Just typing in Open source software blogs or Entrepreneurship blogs and Google will give us a list if blogs and we can contact those blogs and ask them if they can list or add a link to our free product site or blog article.

Build an email subscription list:

Always try and build a subscription list. The people who are subscribing to your articles really believe in your content. And you should make them search for your articles from time to time.
They are a dedicated audience and dedicated traffic to your blog. Do your upmost to make it really easy for them to signup to your mail list.

What is SEO ?

SEO is search engine optimisation. What is means is that When mike does a google search for a product or problem that we could solve our website ranks higher in the search ranking.

To increase search ranking there are many things Search Engines consider. Among them are

  • Keywords
  • Number of links connecting to our site
  • Traffic coming to our site
  • Number of social media posts of our site.

What are Keywords?

Key words are words Mike might type into the search engine bar to find something he wants to find.

For example if Mike wants to hire a mobile app development company, He might search
mobile app development companies in San Francisco. or hire mobile app developer.
We need to research keywords that are relevant to our industry and customer

Typically we should try to rank in the top three keywords our customer would search.
Now there are two kinds of SEOs.
Onpage and
OFF page.
Here is a very good guide to Onpage SEO.

For finding out keywords
Think

“will searchers really find what they are looking for when they search using using these keywords?”

Or

Find out what key words competition is using. Tools like Open web explorer and SEM Rush are a great for this kind of research

and google keyword planner is another great tool for keyword research. It tells you how much traffic is there for a particular keyword. It even tells you how much difficult it is to rank for a particular keyword.

And we already have been doing a lot of off page SEO by building free products and Blogs.
Just be sure to sub-domain your free product page and blog site to your startup site.

After getting an understanding of keywords. DO a quick on page SEO. It doesn’t take much time is simple to do and the results are for ever
here is a quick guide.

These key word tools tools will also come in handy when distributing blog articles

Doing Paid Ads.

If we have the budget or if we want to do experiments we can use paid ads for this purpose.
Building a paid ad is an skill unto itself
We will need to answer questions like these ?

What is the goal of the ad?

The goal could be to drive signups, or
influencing people to read our blog post
or
converting people to buy our product.

What keywords to target?

Key word targeting in ads is a skill. You need to find key words that drive traffic but aren’t that expensive to buy.
We discussed some of the tools we could use above.

Which platform to choose?

Ideally we should only choose platforms where our customers visit (mike). Another thing to consider is what mood mike is in when he is on a particular platform.

Research shows that for long form content twitter is a good source, for relaxed entertaining content Facebook is good media.
For getting conventions search engine ads like on google and bing are a good source.

Other things to consider:

What ROI do we want, and at what cost ads are feasible for us.

What does a client pay us VS How much does it cost to get the client is an important thing to consider.

Assuming our goal is to convert the client to buy our product.

Income from client > How much money a single click costs * How many clicks are required to get the client.

##In Conclusion:

Marketing like everything else in life is a trial and error thing. All of the things will not work everywhere.
And running with all the strategies and all the distribution channels that I have mentioned is a not a good idea especially when your resources are limited. Instead try and identify what channels suits you the best and work with it.

So many times it happens that one of the channels brings in more customers than all of the other channel combined.

I wish you best of luck for your adventures.

This blog post is by Mohammed Lakkadshaw. Founder at Mohammed Lakkadshaw & Co. A Mobile and Web design and development company.