November 13, 2017
When you're trying to get your brand or product out there, it's easy to use the spray and pray marketing method and see what sticks, but that's not always the best approach to get the biggest ROI for your time and effort.
We talked with Alejandro Rioja, CEO of Flux Ventures, about what advice he gives to startups about gaining traction in the market.
Who are inspirational leaders in your life?
I have many people who I hope to meet one day. Anyone who is a leader in their respective field is an inspiration and a mentor to me. My short and incomplete list includes: Richard Branson, Roger Federer, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel, Gandhi, Elon Musk, anyone in the PayPal mafia, and many more. I remember reading the bios of all my leaders when I was 14-16 and becoming fascinated with what they had done. I knew right then that I wanted to follow their footsteps.
I try to learn something different from each of them (not just in business, but in sports, media, etc.). For instance, I really like Steve Jobs’ keen sense of design, Warren Buffett’s investing principles, Serena Williams’ drive, and many more. I think learning from the pros is one of the best ways to shorten the path to success.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today?
Anything can be learned (via Google and YouTube, for free). Most of the time, we use excuses that we don’t know how to code, how to sell or how to market. These mental limitations reduce our ability to think big. All these skills can be learned (and usually don’t take as long as we imagined in our heads). The lack of knowledge shouldn’t be an obstacle but rather the cue that we need to acquire and develop that skill so that we can continue to push our businesses forward.
Of course, we must also evaluate whether the learning time is justified and if we should hire someone with experience to handle that task. But when you are just starting, there’s nothing better than trying to learn how to do a lot of tasks so that you know what they really entail.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made and what are the lessons learned?
I tried to market on too many platforms: Facebook ads, Instagram influencers, SEO, etc. All this diluted my efforts and didn’t provide any solid results because there was no focus. Once I honed in on just one platform, I was able to better track the metrics and ROI. Not to mention that it allowed me to become an expert in one platform rather than simply amateur at many.
I suggest fellow entrepreneurs look into their business and analyze which one task, if done properly, will take your business to the next level and do that task.
What’s your best finance related tip for early-stage entrepreneurs?
If your business is not making money, you’re not making enough calls to clients, you’re not emailing enough people and certainly you’re not talking enough about your product or service. Figure out which one of them (or combination) is causing the problem and fix it. If your prospecting approach is not on full force, start making those calls. If your product lacks, talk to your prospective customers and get feedback as to why they are not buying.
Besides that, knowing your numbers will make it easier for you to understand which areas need improvement. For instance, if your customer acquisition cost is unsustainable, you will need to find ways to attract customers through other mediums. This will help you revisit your acquisition channels and customer funnel rather than looking at your payroll, for instance.
Lastly, never get into so much debt that you’re only thinking about that and not about your business.
What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur to do right now and take their biz to the next level?
Find a mentor who can teach you how they achieved success and emulate that. You can find like-minded people through Facebook groups or on Slack with the added benefit that you can also form a mastermind group to share knowledge, tactics and tips. In the same vein, get rid of people who don’t respect your dreams and are not constantly improving themselves.
How do you define success?
My definition of success is genuinely enjoying going to work every day and working with people I like and can hang out with outside of work.
Read more advice from founders on TechCo
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