What do Start-ups Need to Do Right to Gain the Initial Business Traction?

Are you worried about your new business not gaining enough traction for sales to happen? Here are certain tips to help get your business traction.


The biggest challenge for any start-up is to make sales. No matter how awesome your product is or how innovative your service is, if people are not aware of you, no one will come to you. Plus, with a limited budget, start-ups cannot afford to spend much on expensive and fancy advertisements. But, one good news is, all start-ups have been in your position at some point in time, and they have all figured out different ways to gain initial business traction. And if they can, you can too. In this article, we have highlighted some tips to help you make your first few sales. 

 Why initial business traction is important 

Business traction for start-ups means to gain momentum, which leads to sales. When there is no traction, your sales are about to dry out. Know that traction does not necessarily mean profit. You can have traction and still see no profit. Companies like Tesla, Uber, Amazon always have traction but see only sporadic profitability. Knowing if your company has traction has immense importance not only to the founders and the employees but also to investors. Investors are likely to get more attracted to start-ups that have more traction than those that don’t. 

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The biggest challenge for any start-up is to make sales. No matter how awesome your product is or how innovative your service is, if people are not aware of you, no one will come to you.

Tips to get business traction

  1. Ensure you have a product-market fit

Before anything else, you need to ensure that you have a product that the market absolutely loves it. To achieve the product-market fit, you need to have the right funnel and tweak it at each level. 

  1. Amazing product

If you can build an amazing product, half of your job is done. While some packaging and customer satisfaction elements help to get an edge, a great product is what you need to focus on. For example, Nest completely redesigned the outdated home thermostat. Overnight something boring and outdated became desirable and beautiful. Or remember the Coin card product video that generated over 5000 pre-orders in less than 24 hours? So, focus on developing an awesome product so that you can align your marketing and sales towards it with a long-term vision. Another example is Tesla. Their cars are insanely better than any cars in the market, which makes the brand so desirable. 

  1. Pre-launch campaign 

Kickstart your momentum with a well-planned pre-launch campaign. When you already have a group of people interested to know more about your products, your job will get easier. Your pre-launch campaign can be as simple as a single announcement or a series of teasers to build up the interests. Remember, you need to have a plan in place, so you know what exactly you want to do here. You can send actionable emails to your list of subscribers and give them nuggets of information about your product. You can also create a Facebook custom audience list and send customized ads to the audience. It is always a great idea to share special offers that they find hard to refuse or limited-time access to certain features. These are effective ways to drive returning customers to your product. Encourage your audience to refer to their friends and families. Design some attractive offers around referral programs. Finally, build some excitement with a launch competition where customers can win some of your products to drive initial customers to your business. 

  1. Build and engage with a community

If you want to grow your business, you need to build your community—a community of people who will trust you and align with your business idea. It would help if you started building your audience at least six months before your product launch in an ideal world. But if it is not possible, there is still time to work on it now. If you prefer to write, start a blog, or leverage YouTube to create videos. Know that creating a community is not enough, but you need to engage with your community too. Interact with them, ask questions, or answer their queries. Remember to be authentic when you interact with your community. Having a strong community helps to go a long way, so start now. 

  1. Build a brand 

 When you talk about branding, the first few things that come to your mind are a logo, brand colours, slick website, the voice and tone, and social media presence. But the brand is more than that. Your brand is the experience that you deliver to your customers. And when you do that, every customer who uses your product or service becomes your brand advocate. When you deliver an amazing brand experience, your users spread the word among their friends and families, bringing in more revenue for you. For example, consider Uber. The company offers an incredible experience that is hard to replace. The company has an operational executive in every city where Uber operates. These executives work closely with the local customers and the local drivers. 

  1. Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing helps to get initial business traction, especially to start-ups. To do it successfully, you need to reach out to influencers in your community or industry. You can do this either by sending out cold emails, interacting with them on social media, or enticing them with lucrative offers. For example, Yelp, a bay area-based start-up, reached out to influential bloggers and reviewers to talk about them and honoured these elite influencers by showcasing them on their home page. If your budget is tight, micro influences in your domain can be of great help too. Micro-influencers are social media users who have between 1000-10000 followers. They recommend products just as normal people do. While choosing micro influencers, it is natural to choose influencers who have more followers. But know that influencers who have a highly engaged audience sell better products because their audience trusts them. Do your own research to choose the right influencer who wants to work with your brand before approaching them. That way, you can find the right influencers. 

7. Partnering with other brands

Many start-ups manage to gain initial traction by partnering with other highly influential brands. It is a great way to garner some traction by leveraging the customer base of an already established brand. Partnerships can be of four types. 

  • Syndication: This is a common way of partnership where two brands combine their products and expose them to their respective audience. For example, Cloud-based security provider Silver Sky became a syndication partner with Office 365. 
  • API: If a brand has built a platform, you can leverage the brand’s platform to display your product. For example, Uber has done with other brands like Starbucks, TripAdvisor, etc. 
  • Integration: Two brands work together to improve the features of both the brands. 
  • Referral: Referral can be either an affiliate, reseller, or organization that already uses your product. For example, Dropbox offers one of the most popular referral programs to offer 500 MB of space for both the recipient and sender.  
  1. Create and promote original content

Being original makes a lot of difference. Whether you write a blog post or create a social media post, share original quality content. Content plays an important role for start-ups — it helps them build their brand, spread awareness, become an authoritative figure in the industry, educate your audience, and finally help search engines find you and generate more traffic to your website. 

  1. Think out of the box

Finally, there is always a scope to think out of the box and get creative. While these tips would help you get started and gain some initial business traction, you can always try something yourself. Unique marketing campaigns and publicity stunts can always help get some traction in your business’s initial days. 

Things to remember for beginning with  business traction

Start with a clear goal

Science has proven that when you are clear of your goals, you tend to achieve higher. First, begin writing down your goals and visit them at regular intervals to understand how you are doing. Instead of having vague goals like “I want to grow my business,” make it more specific and time bonus. When goals are measurable, you know where exactly you are standing and what you need to do to achieve that goal. For example, a measurable goal can be “I want to grow my subscriber list by ten subscribers every week”. Specific goals can help guide you to make your actions and decisions, ensuring you are having Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Based (SMART) goals.

 Pre-launch email list

One of the most important things you need to build for your start-up is your own email list. Perhaps you would argue that why have an email list when you are already working towards building your social media followers? Think this way. Suppose you have a huge follower on Facebook, but suddenly Facebook decides to close. Or think about what happened with TikTok in India? If you don’t have any other way to stay in touch with your followers, you are going to lose a huge chunk of your followers, right? That is exactly why you should work towards building your own subscriber list. With email subscribers, you own your data, and unless you decide to remove them, no one else can. You can use different targeting landing pages to build your subscriber list. Start working on your email list before you launch your product. That way, by the time you have your product ready, you will already have a curious bunch of audience to pitch in your product. 

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In freemium model, you offer a free version of your product with limited features for a fixed period of time.

Offer a free version or a free product

A freemium model works great for initial business traction. In this model, you offer a free version of your product with limited features for a fixed period of time. This is a super-effective way to build your user base. The model works so well because a user has nothing to lose from it. It is free, so they don’t need to pay anything for trying it out. And it is easy to remove or delete it if they don’t like it. You can also use it with an advertisement model as an additional source of income. For example, Spotify displays ads and plays an advertisement as well after playing a few songs. And once you upgrade to a paid version, all the ads are removed, and you can enjoy it without any interruptions. Another great example is Slack, the popular chatting app. Slack has a very generous free model, which many businesses use without even upgrading it. This model can work for any kind of app. 

Key takeaways 

Initial business traction is crucial for start-ups because it brings in sales and attracts investors, and helps grow interests among customers. These are some tips that would help you gain the initial business traction for your start-ups. 

Chayanika Sen
Chayanika Sen
Over a decade of experience in Corporate Communication Chayanika writes on Human Resources, Recruitment, Marketing, Employer Branding and Thought Leadership.

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