It is often said that there are low entry barriers for online startups. Is this true or just another myth?
The right question
The right question isn't if it is easy to start a business on the web. But rather if it is easy to be successful drawing traffic to your website. For the first question: yes. For the second question: no, it isn't. An online startup can only be considered as such if anyone can reach its website, otherwise it's just a hobby.
Getting to a good place
If you were to start a retail venture, you know its all about location, location, location. When you are talking about the web, what it really matters is to get a good rank on Google, on Bing, on Facebook, just to name a few. To be able to get that, your online startup needs to perform a ton of very important tasks, like:
- value creation,
- social Marketing,
- having a responsive website that is compliant with the SEO's best practices,
- you need to produce content,
- you need to get backlinks.
The process of acquiring location
In our opinion, there are a lot of tasks that your startup needs to perform before investing in adwords or promoting your Facebook post. Applying best practices will make your marketing efforts have a more durable results. So, producing the right content, improving your content strategy, improving usability, improving website performance are goals that take time. From simple mistakes as including the wrong anchor texts (like click here), to having spelling mistakes on your website, using the wrong keywords on your content, the natural evolution of content/product offering resulting in a need of a different site structure.
How long is long enough
When should you start investing in SEM? There is no definitive answer. You should not see it on a time basis, but rather on stages. So you should go as follows:
- Website live,
- Social networks on,
- Content improvement,
- Website's usability improvements (development),
- Website's SEO improvements (development),
- Build backlinks (SEO),
- Content improvement,
- Website restructure (development),
This process is iterative, so you need to take in account a long list of skills, if you don't want to drop serious money to get to a better location.
Do I have the skills to do it?
Your startup will be constantly improving in many different aspects, like for example, your website, your SEO, and even your content. As so, you need a developer, a SEO guy and a content producer. The first option, and the best one, is for you to gain those skills and do it yourself. Another, is to include in your startup these elements either by giving up equity or by hiring them. Costs time, costs money, so it is definitely an entry barrier.
How relevant are the entry barriers for your startup
Not even looking into your startup's service or product, we already identified quite a number of tasks you need to do on an ongoing basis in order to be successful. We would say that they are probably high, not extremely high, but seriously relevant. It may be the case that you are amazing doing all of those tasks, but you will still take a long time doing them. The cost, either in money or in time of getting your startup's website into a good location is very relevant.
Although there are significant entry barriers, here at IdeaNinja we work to make it easier for your startup. We made several resources, opinions and tools available for your disposal. You can probably benefit from our series about article writing, to improve your content, and SEO: