Ask GaryVee: How To Build Your First Business

Recently, I’ve received a lot of questions. Although some vary, many are similar. Questions like, how do I start my first business or how do I keep a new business afloat. People want to build and I get it. Times are hard and businesses are trying to find new ways to be creative and stay on the offense. Here are some answers to the business questions I get most often, I hope it brings you some value. 

What is the best way to keep my startup competitive? 

You know, I default as an entrepreneur thinking it’s always going to be competitive. If you’re good, everybody’s gonna be in your space, right? You figured something out, now you’re gonna have plenty of competitors.

To me, it’s the same old game. It’s better execution, it’s better product, it’s better service, it’s better everything that’s actually going to drive your business. I can’t give a blanket answer that will work for everyone, but I can give you general answers.

I’m trying to go deeper but I would need to know who everyone’s competitors are to answer this question thoroughly. So, for you and your business, are your competitors bigger entities with more money? When you’re David, you don’t play Goliath.  Escape. When you’re Goliath, destroy David. Like, that match-up, it should have never gotten to the slingshot. Just squish that guy.

So, to give the practical advice, it’s got to be something…here’s an example, back to depth. Was anybody else surprised as hell that I barely talked about VaynerMedia for around three years. For somebody that’s always out there promoting, you might have noticed that if you went to VaynerMedia’s website for the last few years there was nothing there. That’s because I was David.

I needed to make sure that the bigger agencies didn’t realize how big I was actually getting. That was my competitive play in a competitive landscape. Now that I’m getting a little bit bigger, I’m getting a little bit more out there. I’m putting myself out there more because I have the leverage of having more money to hire the best talent or acquire the biggest clients. So, the answer to your question is completely predicated on where you are in your life cycle versus your competitor’s life cycle.

What I would tell you is, and here’s where I can give the most tangible answer (though still theoretical), never play the other person’s game. That’s where everybody gets, like oh, that big guy or gal is now running ads. We’re gonna too. Problem, they have ten million dollars. You have $80,000 You will lose. So, it’s never playing the other person’s game.

How would you promote a Kickstarter campaign beyond providing content to raise awareness? 

I treat Kickstarter no different than anything else. Just because you, for example, have an ice thing that you want to do and you decide to do it on Kickstarter (because that’s a platform that has virality) that’s fine. The answer is the same: Facebook ads, targeting people that give a crap about ice cream and ices, putting out content in blog form, and guest contributing.

I would email every single person that has a blog of any size or magnitude that plays in your space. If you’re in organic ices or desserts or ice cream culture, I would map out the 700 people that are in that space that have blogs or media outlets and reach out to them and say, “I’d like to guest contribute.” Talk about Italian ices or ice cream or dessert culture in America or the world. Speak generally, not spamming like, “I want to tell you about my product.” It’s about content not infomercials.

Too many people think about content and they hear Billy Mays, an infomercial. When I think about content, I hear the New York Times and Scandal. Get it? It’s about making that decision.

So getting distribution, putting out good content, guest contributing, Facebook ads (if you’ve got money to drive towards it), reaching out to influencers and chefs that are in the desert space to see if you can joint venture what I would call business development. 

“Hey, you know, Mario Batali! Here’s what I can do for you. Or, I’ll give you 8% of my company if you can get me the spark that spreads out awareness of my products. Maybe, Hey, Carla Hall, I think you’re amazing in Your Southern Cuisine! I’ll give you five years worth of my product, for free, if you give me a little love. How can you give me love? A tweet’s not enough.”

So it’s biz dev, it’s content creation that’s not infomercial but actual content, and then it’s proper internet marketing.

Should I post articles on my blog or social media?

Those of you who follow me have probably realized that I’m going to say, both. what I think is interesting about this question is most people in the internet marketing world want to keep telling you to do it on your own site, monetize your own traffic, it’s yours, Facebook reach can’t be taken away. All this “own it, own it, own it.”

The problem with “own it, own it, own it” is when you’re doing it on your own site, you’re at the mercy of how much traffic you’re able to establish on your own site, and so from the 99.999% of you that are reading  this that don’t have four million unique people coming to your site every day, every month, the reality is is placed like Medium, can help so much. 

For example, I had a Medium post go extremely viral, viral as in it did really well on Medium. However, that 950 people have clicked over and read the article because of that place, and that’s 950 people that I’m gonna guess 787 of them have never even heard of me before that article.

I’m a big fan of picking spots strategically that give you awareness and then build leverage for you that then eventually you can monetize in your own world.

Too many people are worried about monetizing now, posting on their page, versus using things like Linkedin and Medium, and notice I use those two because they have viral loops. Linkedin, when articles go well, it shows up in Pulse. Medium sends out an email and has the top stories. So I like being in places where there’s viral loops. I noticed the kid on Twitter today tweet out, Hey, I’m number four on Medium, two spots ahead of GaryVee, and then I looked at his profile and he has 1,400 Twitter followers. That got me excited. I’m like “See, great content can rise to the top and bring awareness.” It’s clear, it’s a heavy mix of both.

That’s all for now, VaynerNation! If you liked this article, be sure to share it on Twitter!

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