A diverse group of early-stage entrepreneurs having a business meeting.

Top 5 tips for early-stage entrepreneurs to grow a business

Building your business can be both empowering and daunting, especially in the early-stage of growth, and the path to market is often filled with challenges and learning curves. It takes a village to raise a start-up, so we’ve gathered some guidance from our start-up mentors and advisors to help you navigate those challenges.  

Inspired from the ‘Mentor Moments’ series on Academy at Innovation Factory, a selection of short videos featuring business tips from our community of experts, this blog features the top 5 most watched ‘Moments’. From refining your pitch, and understanding and engaging your customers, to leveraging your network, and establishing a clear brand image, these practical insights are tailored to empower you through your entrepreneurial journey.

How to create a strong pitch for investors

David Wright, an Innovation Factory (iF) Expert Advisor and former Executive Director of the Angel One Network, with decades of investment experience, shared that having a strong pitch is an important part of connecting with your investors.

Focus on having the most relevant information in your presentation, including a summary of your business plan and financial forecast. Why? A detailed business plan and three-year financial forecast shows investors how the business will attract customers, make money, and grow – clearly outlining the needed funds and profit timeline.

How to drive sales as an early-stage company

Tom Turchet, an iF Expert Advisor with experience in the tech industry shares his thoughts on how to equip yourself to make a successful sale. To close sales effectively, you need to identify your clients’ urgent needs and focus on addressing them. As an early-stage company, you should thoroughly engage in customer discovery, ask questions, and identify the core problems they face.

How to leverage client feedback in your marketing plan

Bruce Inwood, another iF Expert Advisor with years of Product Marketing experience, shares that creating a solid marketing plan for your product is key to ensure growth of your company.

How do you do that? Inwood suggests understanding your customer, keeping them involved throughout the product development stages, and determining the logistics of how you’re going to bring your product to the market. The first two steps help inform the logistics of the plan to market.

By interviewing customers and gathering feedback to deeply understand their pain points, you can refine your product, validate its benefit, tailor your marketing mix (Product, Place, Price, Promotion), and plan effective scaling strategies.

How networking can lead to collaboration and conversions

Your connections with large service providers like banks and law firms can be leveraged to find your next client. Sarah Romanuck, a mentor from the iF ecosystem with expertise and experience in the financial sector, explains that large service providers can also sometimes turn into clients or help you connect with potential customers.

Consider how to engage with a service provider beyond their main offerings by exploring opportunities for joint events or community projects to enhance collaboration. Think bigger. If targeting a potential client, use your connections to learn more and meet key decision-makers. As Romanuck suggests, building a relationship can provide insights and access to their network, even if a deal isn’t immediately closed.

How to build a brand image that resonates with your customers

A product can only be perceived as well as its brand image. Having a clear brand image is very important to having your client receive your product well. John Holland, an iF Expert Advisor with experience in launching many products for multinational food and Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies, advises you to define your brand’s value proposition to highlight why your product matters and how it differs from competitors.

As an early-stage company, you should start by conducting thorough market research through innovation centers, online, or by observing directly to understand trends and consumer behavior. Use this information to position your product clearly and effectively in the market.

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If you want to hear more from our network of advisors, visit Academy at Innovation Factory, a multi-disciplinary online learning platform leveraging the ecosystem of experts and mentors to provide growing businesses with the resources, knowledge and training across a variety of relevant topics.

Interested in getting connected and working directly with our advisors? Contact us to get started. 

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14th Annual LiONS LAIR Pitch Competition and in-person Gala on September 26, 2024 from 5:00pm to 9:00pm. Tickets available on lionslair.ca

Attend the 14th annual LiONS LAIR pitch competition

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When: September 26, 2024 | 5:00pm – 9:00pm 

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