Why Every Startup Founder Needs to be a Community Manager

Announcing the resultsBuilding a company from the ground up is a major undertaking.

There are a lot of logistical, technical and administrative things to figure out when first starting out. But one thing that every company needs in order to succeed are customers.

How do you start building a customer base from scratch? The same way you build a community from scratch. In fact, for a lot of companies, your first customers ARE a community.

Many companies today—especially tech companies with access to scalable tools—take the approach of putting up a generic landing page and building an audience of people who they successfully intrigued enough to hand over their email.

These people aren’t customers though. They’re an audience.

An audience member isn’t a customer. An audience member also isn’t a community member. They are a potential customer, and a potential community member. In order to convert them, you need to engage them.

Like building any community from scratch, it all starts with a conversation. You start with one customer and you talk to them. Then you get two. Then three. And as you bring on more and more customers, you learn. You learn about who they are, what their needs are and how you must adapt your product in order to fulfill that need.

Ever hear all of those success stories about companies that just launch a product and everyone loves it and buys it up immediately? That’s rare. Very rare. That means that on their first shot, they nailed the product market fit and went directly into scaling.

For the greater majority of other companies, if you try to scale before you know whether or not your product is a good fit, you’re likely to waste a lot of time and money.

So build your new company like you would a new community. Start by talking to one person and learning from them. Then talk to a second, and a third.

You’re a founder, which means you have to build something that fulfills a need or appeals to a belief. That’s what communities are built around. If you’re truly able to bring people together around that common need or belief, then you’ll find your product market fit quickly and will be scaling in no time.

Build a community around a common interest or belief, learn what the needs of that community are and build a product to fulfill those needs.


Photo cred: Gueorgui Tcherednitchenko via Compfight

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About the author

David Spinks, CMXSummit and Lifelong student, community builder and writer.


Thank you for writing this post. Building a community first (as a founder) allows you to test hypotheses, build a solid beta user base, and develop a company culture. For a seed or early stage tech startup, the attitude "oh I can outsource the social media or find an intern" is one foot in the grave. Like you said, TONS of money wasted. If you can't build a community, how can you launch a product? (Because PR is not the answer.)