The year’s end is a good time to relax, look at the big picture and re-define your personal and professional roadmaps. I’ve gathered this year’s insightful content from the startup community – let it point you in the right direction for the upcoming year with actionable advice, hella’ motivating words and a ton of resources.
This year I’ve seen a lot of awesome content and I want to share my picks with you before 2015 ends. A little explanation for this post – I divided the content I gathered over the course of 2015 into:
Click any of these to jump to the category that interests you the most. For your convenience, every piece of content has a specific question that it answers assigned to it – like “What are the best tactics to continuously build a prospect email list?”. That’s why you can treat this not just as a cummulative post – but also a guide to solve specific B2B startups problems.
Enjoy the intense awesomeness that you’re about to experience!
1. How do I generate buzz before launching my start-up?
Mitchell Harper, Founder & CEO of PeopleSparkHQ, explains the guerilla marketing strategy (low cost + big effect) he used to create pre-launch buzz for Capital H Labs. It’s a very descriptive article – overall the strategy is pretty simple and is a combination of combining a product website, Slideshare, Twitter and Mailchimp. In essence:
2. What are the best tactics to continuously build a prospect email list?
Matthew Barby is the Global Head of Growth & SEO at HubSpot. He provides a detailed breakdown of the tactics that he’s tested, and explains why it’s important to iterate and see what works in your case. An email list is one of the most important lead generation resources in B2B sales and marketing these days. A good emailing list provides huge opportunities to give value, nudge towards a buying decision (nurture), and get feedback. In essence:
3. What can I do to quickly start generating new sales leads?
Ritu Singh, online marketing specialist at Better Graph, describes 20 lead generation tactics. Some of them you can start implementing right now and some require a bit of planning to execute. All of them are good ideas, just remember that not all have to work in your industry – take your target group’s preferences into account. In essence:
4. Why don’t my cold emails ever work?
Anand Sanwal, CEO at CB Insights, analised 147 cold emails and described why most of them simply sucked. Not a guide per se, but Anand still provides a lot of actionable advice in this article. A lot of statistics, a lot of graphs, a lot of data in this article – if you don’t like that, you can still skim through it to find tips for writing better cold emails. In essence:
5. How do I approach influential people with cold emails and don’t get ignored?
Brian Wong, founder and CEO at Kiip, describes how he managed to get his startup funed thanks to… and exchange of emails with Ken Chenault, CEO of American Express. He also provides a 3-step guide for replicating his success. In essence:
6. How should I approach B2B sales in today’s complex business landscape?
Frank Cespedes (Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School) and Tiffani Bova (Research Vice President and distinguished analyst at Gartner) describe how B2B buyers make their decisions, and how to strategically approach selling your product or service to achieve the best results. In classic HBR fashion, the language is a bit sophisticated and some conclusions might take a while to sink in. In essence:
7. How do I produce lead-generating content without sacrificing other priorities?
Neil Patel is a badass entrepreneur, and basically all of his posts are pure awesomeness. In this one, he delivers 6 productivity hacks to consistently produce content without sacrificing all of your free time. If you’re an expert, you’ve already got a lot to share – but you probably don’t have the time to write it up. Neil comes to the rescue. In essence:
8. Is there a specific piece of content I could create that would attract thousands of visitors to my website?
Yes there is – an influencer blogpost and Piotr Koczorowski from UsabilityTools provides a detailed explanation and action plan for creating it. He nicely divided the article into separate stages of creation, and adds neat pro-tips here and there for your convenience. In essence:
PS. Or write something that’s been bothering you for a while, but you had no time to get it off your chest – if luck helps, you’ll greatly boost your visibility online. Just like our CEO Piotr did when he wrote about a personal pain – wasting time at conferences. The effect?
Admittedly, it was a one-time thing. But still – thousands of people have visited RightHello’s site = thousands of people already have our brand name written somewhere in their memory. Scoreboard!
9. What’s the smallest change I can make for my sales calls to be better?
Garrett Hollander, Content Strategy Director for SalesStaff LLC, found a study by Accuvit – a study of using filler words (like “umm”) in sales calls. This is a short post, with 4 actionable tips near the end, that will point your attention to a mistake that you’re probably making – without even realising it. In essence:
10. How should I approach early-stage B2B sales?
Invaluable insights about founder sales from Jakob Marovt, Co-founder of PipetopHQ. His approach at the start was very similar to what was going on at the beginnings of RightHello – no sales outsourcing, using the network effect on a smaller scale to get first clients, squeezing every last bit of customer insight out of this process, etc. This is THE way to do initial outbound sales, neatly described by Jakob in 15 important points. In essence:
All of these are must-reads – just saying so I won’t have to add that part to all of the article descriptions. A lot of motivating, inspiring, often mind-blowing words from the top players in the start-up and blogging game.
1. Should money be the only reason for building a start-up?
A transcription of Yancey Strickler’s (CEO of Kickstarter) talk from the Web Summit in Dublin. He tackles a very important subject here – greed as the main motor of business. He talks about the importance of holding on to your integrity, of innovating for the greater good instead of greater revenue, and why greed-driven business is destructive. In essence:
2. Should I hold on tightly to my ideas, or should I also consider other people’s points of view?
Jason Fried, founder & CEO at Basecamp, describes how someone made him realise a mistake in his behaviour – disregarding people’s ideas without taking the time to think about them first. After this article, you won’t be so quick to poke holes in what other people tell you – hopefully you’ll start taking the time to listen and analise, because there’s great value in understanding another person’s experience and point of view. In essence:
3. Do I have a lot of time left to achieve my goals?
Tim Urban, in my opinion, writes the greatest articles for millenials on his blog – Wait But Why. They’re extremely easy to understand, but he drives such mind-blowing points that it’s sometimes unbearable. This is one of his ultra mind-blowing articles – I had to just sit down and think for a while after I read it. It’ll get you depressed at first – but in the end Tim gives you a huge motivational kick in the ass. Read it now! In essence:
The rest of my pick of inspirational content comes from Quora – if you’re not on there, it’s a great world full of answers to … well, probably all the questions that are bothering you right now. Influential, successful, experienced people are kind enough to spend their time on Quora answering tough questions and providing great solutions. I highly encourage you to engage with the community – visit, read, comment, and finally start writing your own answers. It can be very rewarding, a few of us here at RightHello do this, and it’s very gratyfing when the community appreciates your answer, as was the case with our CEO’s answer about the best cold email, our Head of Sales, Bartosz’s answer about leaving a 9-5 to create a startup, and my answer about what to do when your startup seems to be failing.
Let’s move on to the best of the best from Quora:
4. How do I become an indispensable team member that my CEO will highly appreciate?
Angel investor, entrepreneur and author Auren Hoffman comes up first in this topic, with a great answer that will show you that becoming a great team member isn’t rocket science – it takes two basic qualities and huge grit to follow-through on them. Become indispensable for your company by following his advice – since I read this answer, I changed my approach and started working my ass off to become that person. In essence:
5. What does building a startup require?
Jason M. Lemkin is, as his Linkedin profile says – a Media Giant & Hyper-Founder-Centric SaaS-Only VC. To me – simply a genius. He answered the question “how old is too old to start a startup?” with basically all the requirements that first-time founders need to know before they embark on the (usually) long, hard journey of building a startup from the ground up. In essence:
6. What’s the most important word for an entrepreneur?
James Altucher has so much experience that it would take a whole article to write it down. In essence he’s an unstoppable entrepreneurial spirit, great writer and an investor. In this answer, he talks about the most important word for success. And it’s not “yes”, if that’s what you were thinking. It’s not an obvious answer – but the way he writes it, the whole message proves his point extremely well so don’t skim it. In essence:
7. Is it possible to make it big in Sillicon Valley without an engineering background?
Jonathan Brill is a startup specialist, and in this answer he describes how you can make 100k $ in sillicon valley without being an engineer. Yeah, they might be the cool kids on the block, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make a ton of cash being, for instance, a marketing or sales specialist. In essence:
8. Should the whole start-up team be aware and understand strategic goals and plans?
Auren Hoffman strikes again, this time writing about why it’s important to have the whole start-up team on one page, and why it’s the only way to reduce the need for constant micromanagement. In essence:
Massive free resources
Not a lot of links, but trust me – it’s enough. A supply of tools, an aggregate of startup insights and 2 lists of books to read (in case all the content I’ve given you isn’t enough to fill your free time :D).
1. Where can I find free resources to employ in my growth tactics, or to learn something new?
Look no further because Ali Mese, a freelance marketer, blogger, and all around awesome guy created the Freebie Supply for everyone to enjoy and take advantage of. It’s built as a clean, categorised list of free online resources that you can use to improve A LOT of what you do – from copywriting, through business development and management, design, up to simply learning new stuff to broaden your horizons. In essence:
2. Is there a source of solutions for very specific, real-life b2b startups growth problems?
Yes there is – and it lies in the AMAs (Ask Me Anything) on growthhackers.com. Growthhackers is founded by Sean Ellis (he actually coined the term “growth hacking”). AMAs started over a year ago, but in 2015 they really blew up with some of the top startup players helping the community with specific cases people needed help with. If it’s hard for you to navigate, I recommend first finding the person that you think could have the best answer to your questions, and mining for specific keywords on the site of the given AMA.
3. What are some great books that a millenial should read?
Check out YC’s reading list – it doesn’t containt many books from 2015, but it’s a list of the best books that Y Combinator’s team has read over this year.
4. What are the best, all-time sales books that I could dig into?
Check out Bartosz Majewski’s Quora answer to that exact question, with 14 of the best sales and marketing books that all start-up crazy people should read.
That’s all, startup folks!
Thanks for reading, hope you bookmark this post and enjoy the content I picked as my favorite, most helpful pieces from 2015.
If you have your own picks – please write them in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I would love to include them if they’re valuable!