Atlanta Startup Advantages: Young Professionals

Atlanta added more people than any other metro region since 2000. Naturally, a large percentage of this population growth is from young professionals, age 25 – 34, informally known as the “young and restless.” These young professionals are looking to advance their careers and are the perfect people for startups.

TAG, the largest technology group in the state, recently added a Young Professionals society to promote networking and learning among this fast growing demographic. Forbes, in 2007, ranked Atlanta as #3 best city in the country for young professionals. An article just last month in the AJC revealed that Forsyth County is among the top 10 counties in the country for young professionals that make over $100k/year.

What does this mean for startups? This means that there’s a highly educated workforce here, that’s early in their career, and ready to make an impact on the world. Young professionals are an advantage for Atlanta startups.

New Series: Atlanta Startup Advantages

I’m going to start a new series titled Atlanta Startup Advantages and talk about some of the many great attributes Atlanta has for young technology companies. With today’s technology, companies are able to be so much more capital efficient, and take advantage of the many resources a city like Atlanta has to offer. Here are some topics that come to mind:

Please let me know of other topics to add to the list.

When to Move On

I was recently talking to an entrepreneur who’s been working on his company full-time for three years and is at the point where he’s no longer passionate about the business. Rather, he’s identified another business opportunity that is tangentially related but would require starting from scratch. How do you know when it is time to move on from your startup?

My advice to him was to figure out how to follow his dreams while taking care of his small number of employees (less than five). He believes the timing is right for the new business but needs to the day-to-day pay check to make ends meet. It is a tough situation, but when it is time to let go and change paths, you know in your gut what needs to be done.

TiE – The Indus Entrepreneurs

Last night I had the opportunity to attend the Atlanta chapter of The Indus Entrepreneurs annual gala at the Georgia Aquarium. It was a wonderful event centered around giving back. Bernie Marcus, co-founder of Home Depot, was honored for his philanthropy and several entrepreneurs won awards.

The biggest takeaway from the evening for me is how lucky we are to have an organization like TiE. TiE’s mission is to promote entrepreneurship around the world and they are doing a great job. I would recommend you look into your local chapter of TiE and get involved.

The Easy Way

The easy way is to do nothing. Or, to take the path of least resistance. Are you taking the easy way in your business? What’s the hard way? What direction can you take that’ll make you a little uneasy but will push the limits of your potential success?

We’re working on a new initiative in my company that is going to take some people out of their comfort zone. It will likely temporarily slow growth for a couple quarters, but will pay dividends down the road. I’m excited about taking the hard way.

Sales Territories and Lead Distribution

Sales territories are a way to define which prospects or leads are handled by specific sales reps. Territories can be a tricky issue with fast growing companies as there are morale issues with constantly changing how leads are assigned to reps, as human nature is to fear change and expect the worst.

Here are some common ways to divide leads:

  • Geographical territories (e.g. by state, city, zip code, etc)
  • Round robin so that each lead that comes in (or list that is generated) is handed to the next rep in sequential order
  • Verticals or company type such that certain industries (e.g. energy or technology) are owned by specific reps
  • Company size based on employees or revenues

Developing sales territories along with lead distribution strategies is critical for fast growing companies and should not be taken lightly.

Tabletop Tradeshow Preparation

This week starts the beginning of the Fall tradeshow season for us. We’re doing shows in San Francisco, Boston, Denver, Milwaukee, and a second one in San Francisco. Only one of the shows allows our full-scale booth while one provides a turnkey booth and the others are tabletop shows. A tabletop show is one where you have a simple 4″ x 8″ table, and is generally smaller and more casual than a show that allows for large booths.

For our tabletop tradeshow preparation, we like to do the following:

  • Reach out to prospects and customers in the area to invite them to the show or a breakfast/dinner
  • Contact analysts and schedule briefings
  • Rotate a new team member from our staff in to attend the show so that more people get to experience an event
  • Prepare consistent talking points for team members that are going to work the booth
  • Prepare a checklist of things for the tabletop including:
    – Table cloth with logo
    – iMac with product demo
    – Fish bowl to collect business cards for iPod Touch giveaway
    – Business cards and product slicks to hand out
    – Pop up banner stand with the message we want to emphasize

Tradeshows are still a great way to meet several people in person in a short period of time and should be considered as part of your overall marketing mix.