The Deceptive Ease of the Startup Process

Born-in-the-cloud companies delivering digital services often fall short in a critical area. Because so many critical barriers to entry to creating an as-a-service company have been eliminated, there has been a mad rush to the as-a-service model on the part of many startups, some of which have become quite successful.

The biggest problem that exists is a growing misconception on the part of born-in-the-cloud startups, that creating the infrastructure to a company is equivalent to creating the company. One can, conceivably, create an app, build a website and populate it with content, and add in an e-commerce component and a back end for taking payments, in a single afternoon – creating the appearance, if not the reality, of an actual company. What really counts though, is what comes after. Where startup entrepreneurs go wrong is when they create that infrastructure, and then sit back and look at it, and think that they have actually created something meaningful.

The problem is that if nobody sees it, it has no meaning. Consequently, what’s more important than the born-in-the-cloud infrastructure, is the born-in-the-cloud marketing. That’s step number two.

Building actual sales channels is often outside the realm of expertise of most startup entrepreneurs, who may be limiting their sales efforts to purely online mechanisms of SEO, backlink strategies, content marketing and PPC advertising. Those methods are all increasingly important in the born-in-the-cloud world, and represent the essential next step after that simple infrastructure has been built.

Those digital tactics though, again by themselves may not mean much, and the next step after that is making your business a little more human. In this critical step number three, entrepreneurs take that online marketing and bring in a social element, incorporating things like social media, user-generated content in the form of active forums and user reviews, and adding in a two-way conversation — actually responding in meaningful terms to the comments and reviews that your customers may post.

It is tempting after all, and many fall victim to this temptation to believe that starting a born-in-the-cloud company can be fully automated and can become profitable with very little to no human interaction. That is one of the greatest fallacies cloud entrepreneurs face. Consumers, while appreciating new levels of convenience that automation brings, still want some human interaction. That may come in the form of a live blog from the owner, direct interaction on social media channels, or personal responses when a user review indicates a problem or issue.

Finally, once you have become personally involved in the business and your customers are able to see that involvement, it’s time to build a network of influencers. Again this may be a social media component, although some companies are now using the gig economy to create a vast network of influencers and resellers who are benefiting directly from their involvement.

To come up with a great product or service and say to yourself, “It will sell itself!” is a grave mistake. It takes continuous attention and marketing, and the realization that the infrastructure part of your born-in-the-cloud business is only the beginning.