July 2021 - PHIX SG | Connecting You To Talent Around You

7 Ways to Make Your Start-up Stand Out

You may know this, but there are over 55,000 start-ups today in Singapore alone, and the number is still growing. Which means start-ups are not only competing against conglomerates; their fight is with the rest of the start-ups as well. 

In a cut-throat situation like this, the best solution to rise above the competition is to stand out distinctly. Here are some tips a start-up could use to start off. 

Know what you want to say and say it out loud 

Moving forward without a clear message in mind is not a smart move. The purpose of the start-up is vital. 

Only knowing it is not enough. Reaching out to their target audience and letting them know is also necessary. 

A highly effective way to do this would be through marketing. As a member of the PR and marketing team in my start-up, the work I do is crucial. Sure, we focus on the services we offer. Without marketing it, though, we would not be able to complement our hard work and do it justice. 

In my industry of tech, there are several start-ups out there. It is a functional, planned-out marketing structure that would go a long way in setting a successful one apart.

Countless start-ups who fail to make it almost definitely did not focus on marketing themselves early on. Since the message was not sent out earlier, potential customers were left unaware and unreached. Needless to say, that does not do a company’s profitability any favours.

Shout your message out in ways that you can. The impact it can have and recognition you get can be staggering. 

Use social media 

For starters, it’s free! Social media is one of the few things in the world that does not cost you anything and yet is highly effective. With the right content, a company could be well on its way to forming its own organic customer base that they can easily communicate with. 

And these customers can communicate back. Social media channels make it very easy for them to leave any feedback they wish to, which is an asset to any start-up. From blasting emails to posting an announcement on Instagram, there are several ways for a start-up to establish contact with customers through social media. 

The collected feedback would be a significant help in telling the company what they are doing right or wrong, enabling them to make tweaks if and when needed. 

What is the real you?

Customers nowadays are big on authenticity. The same old photoshopped visuals with vibrant colours are not enough to convince them anymore. The question then arises, “What would convince them?” 

Your story would. Customers want to see beyond the sales material; they want to know what makes you…well, you. Sharing how your start-up came about, what the inspiration behind it was – your customers would feel the pull without even consciously realising it. 

This automatically sets you apart, and here is why. Everyone out there has a story, but yours is uniquely yours. All that is left to do is to use the right words to forge a connection between your company and customers through your story. 

This connection would be built on the strength of core values such as trust and a deeper understanding of the purpose of the company. When it comes down to the crucial moment of deciding, this connection may very well be the game changer that makes the customer choose you.

Create a Unique Message Based on Customer Input

For a start-up, knowing what the customers need is a key for growth. The next step is using that knowledge to create customised content for them. Keep gathering data and analysing it to try and work out your customers’ taste so you can craft out the best message. 

At the same time, tread carefully. Make sure, as best as you can, that you do not only cater to one group of customers. Not only would this make the rest of them feel unvalued, you could stray from the very fundamental quality that attracts them to you in the first place. 

Feedback questions and surveys are a great way to go about exploring your customers’ opinions. Basic questions such as “Do you find our prices affordable?” can aid in refining the product or service and best cater to this most vital stakeholder.

Honesty is the best policy

Everyone likes a great, inspiring success story. They like it even better when that story is genuine. According to poll results of top business-to-business (B2B) marketers, 54 percent of them agree that sharing real success stories is extremely effective. 

Building a relationship on untrue content or falsities can never do a start-up any good. As mentioned earlier, authenticity is what seals a good deal. A transparent, real story about how the founder dropped out of college to start his own tech company might be just the thing customers want to read. 

The customers whose values resonate with the story will form the loyal base that every start-up needs. 

What’s life without a little philanthropy?

A start-up’s place in and value to the community is of great importance to customers. If your service or a product aids the community significantly, chances are it is a huge success with the members of that community. 

The company’s dedication and concern to the people is shown, which communicates that the society matters. People get to see that even businesses can think beyond just their own well-being and offer help. 

If you want to find out the vibe or mindset of a start-up, just take a look at its team members. 

Because a start-up’s team is so small, it becomes imperative that each member must be a strong personality in whichever department they belong to. A wildly creative digital marketer or an eloquently tactful PR executive are some examples. 

A vibrant workplace helps to prop up a brand and enhance its uniqueness. This allows  the start-up make sure it is flexible enough to be able to adapt to a changing society as well.

Treat the team right 

If you managed to find the perfect digital marketer and PR executive I mentioned earlier, brilliant. Now, all you have to do is make sure they are treated well. A start-up cannot fulfil its potential without the people who make it up. Their well-being is crucial. 

Team members being emotionally cared for can translate into many positive outcomes for the start-up. Increased revenue, better branding, reduced expenses, an established customer base; the list goes on. 

To do this, start by thinking of what would make an employee want to stay. Empower them through opportunities and encourage their learning. Taking them out for a mean once a month or so would also be the kind of bonding session they would appreciate. The team’s productivity and drive would stay amped up. 

Happy people tend to spread their happiness. Once the word gets out there, more talent would see your start-up as the desirable work environment they want to be a part of. With a satisfied and adept group of people, your start-up has the best team to boost it to its success. 


Competition will always exist, but following these tips might be just what your start-up needs to be the next big thing. These six stepping stones would go a long way in taking it up the ladder of success. 

If your company is not where it wants to be, why not try these out? If you have any tips of your own, even better. Trial and error is an excellent way to figure out what works best for your company. 

Better to be a risk-taker and gleaning the possible benefits of it than staying stagnant, don’t you think? 

Education photo created by pvproductions – www.freepik.com

Start-ups, Here’s How to Be a Talent Magnet, Not a Scout

Every company naturally wants talented employees. Having people who are adept at their job is a valuable asset in many ways. This becomes especially more important for start-ups. 

The small team size of a start-up only means more responsibility on each member. Which means the hiring process itself has to be a tough, meticulous one. 

Would it not be a smarter move, then, for the start-up to work on making itself desirable first? Here are some ways which could help a start-up relax and wait for the talent to approach instead of scouting for it themselves. 

Put yourself out there 

If you want people to know about your start-up, you have to publicise. That starts by telling everyone 

  • who you are, 
  • what you stand for, 
  • and how your start-up benefits the community. 

It is only when a start-up puts out this fundamental yet critical information about itself that people would start talking. Make sure the content is factual and straightforward. This will give the public a clear understanding and time to mull over the information. Be mindful to keep your message honest. After all, honesty is the best policy. 

Utilising the available channels of mass media is key. Take advantage of platforms that would help your start-up reach its desired target audience. This goes a long way in building your reputation. 

The start-up’s portrayal on media should reflect and broadcast its tone, style and purpose. Be sure to make the company’s intended contribution to society loud and clear. 

If the messaging is purposeful, it will resonate with the talent out there that the start-up is seeking. In turn, this would stimulate the former to seek the latter.

Marketing. Effective marketing. 

I would wager a bet that majority of you – if not all – would have had gone through at least one interview in your lives. Which means you should know the most necessary skill required: the ability to sell yourself. 

That is what a start-up has to do here. The company values, as well as what makes the start-up at its very core, come into play here. These qualities have to call out to the talent for them to be attracted to the start-up. 

To be able to do so, a start-up needs to think from two perspectives. 

  1. What they have to offer.
  2. What the talents would want or expect out of working with them particularly. 

The second aspect could contain several factors; from salary to work environment. Every talent that you interview from there on could have different expectations. Some could think of a start-up as open-space offices and regular snack breaks. For others, it could mean long work hours and a lot of initiative. 

It is important to hire team mates whose expectations align with the company’s and everyone else working in it. This way, at least the core ideology will be shared. 

Talent is often attracted to promotional opportunities and knowledge expansion. Let them know that your start-up is where they can get these and much more. 

Start-up members each have significant roles to play in its progress. Talent would be gratified to know how greatly their contribution matters to the company. They should be reassured that the company needs them.

The chance to try their hands at different skillsets and not just be limited to their own toolbox would also serve as a strong incentive in attracting talent.

A+T+T+I+T+U+D+E=100

To many people, the word ‘attitude’ is paired with a negative connotation at first sound. In doing so, they suffer a misconception which could affect their mindsets for the worse.  

Yes, it is true that attitude could mean something negative. However, it could also be used in a completely different sense. 

A definition of Oxford’s says that attitude is ‘individuality or self-confidence’. People who possess this attitude are the ones that start-ups should pull aboard their ship. 

Talent does not automatically translate to good attitude. In fact, the contrary is found to be true more often than not. While skills are important, attitude determines the team member’s willingness to get the job done right. Despite failures and several revisions, they possess the grit to see it through till the end. 

Several hirers on LinkedIn and other online platforms have expressed that they would prioritise attitude over skill in an employee. It is a greater joy to teach a willing, not-so-bright student than to wrestle with trying to educate a snobby know-it-all. 

As the saying goes, “one bad apple can spoil the bunch.” Similarly, one team member with a bad attitude could negatively impact those around them. Hence, it is important to employ people with a mind open to learning and working. 

Interviewing the right way 

As individuals, we tend to form first impressions of every person we meet. On some occasions, we find out how wrong we were after getting to know the person better. 

Which is why it is crucial that interviewees get interviewed in the correct manner. The effectiveness and accuracy of the results comes from the right interview process.  

Not only should the hired team mate be in line with the company’s ideology, they should also be able to add their own value to the working culture. 

An interviewer should ensure that the questions asked are actually answered and not swerved around. A story to back up the answers would be an added bonus in terms of getting a better understanding of the interviewee’s character and calibre. 

An interview engineered right could be just the trick in hiring the right talent for a start-up. 


Undoubtedly, there is a lot of competition out there for employers. It gets tougher for start-ups as they are competing with conglomerates which have already established their reputations and attract talent on a global scale. 

Working on these four aspects, however, is better than not making any effort at all. In Singapore itself, there are over 55,000 start-ups – and this number is only growing. 

The start-ups who practise these methods would have the upper hand on those that have yet to get the ball rolling, or whose efforts are unfocused. 

It is never too late to start building your start-up team, but when you do, do it right. Focus on your start-up, so that talent cannot help but focus on it too. 

Source Credit: grasshopper.com

Business photo created by ArthurHidden – www.freepik.com

The Biggest Weaknesses a Start-up CEO Should Have

Yes, weaknesses. All you read about is what makes a great CEO, “Five Qualities you can Find in the Best CEOs”, so on and so forth.

Cut them some slack. Allow them their weaknesses, and see where those lead them. 

  • Great power = great responsibility. But too much responsibility… 

The CEO is the big boss, so naturally, everything falls on them. There is a lot that goes on in a company, especially if it is a new start-up. From funding to marketing to sales – too much for just one person to take on alone. 

Undoubtedly, there are some jobs that only a CEO can do – such as hiring and delegating. 

Sometimes, start-up CEOs tend to forget that. In their minds, they play every role – from PR to marketing to support. 

This tends to result in an overworked and wrung-out CEO. 

It is these CEOs, however, that have the passion to cover all bases. They possess the skill of paying attention to details and being adept in several aspects.

  • Breaks? What are those? 

CEOs are incessant workers. Their unending work routine starts early in the morning, ends late at nights, and hardly contains a slot that says ‘break time’.  

This worsens with start-up CEOs. Their lives revolve around getting their start-up’s wheels turning, and making sure they keep turning and gaining momentum.

The cost? Going for walks, jogs, or even a simple lunch break at times. Eventually, the lack of breaks would weigh down on even the best of CEOs. 

It cannot be denied, however, that this sort of motivation cannot be found in just any individual. Employees may even feel spurred by their CEO to push themselves and explore their potentials.

  • “Sleep is for the weak.”

A good sleep cycle is between 7 and 9 hours long. This information does not seem to have an effect on CEOs.  

Reset My Business CEO Darren Witmer sleeps for not more than 4 hours every night. On the other hand, STS Capital founder Gregory McKee religiously gets his 8 hours of rest every night. He claims he cannot function effectively otherwise. 

Either way, every CEO requires sufficient sleep to be efficient the next day. When they compromise that, the problems arise. 

Being so driven that even the lack of sleep cannot be a deterrent, though, is admittedly impressive, albeit begrudgingly to some. Investors look for this conviction in a CEO. Many would admit they are hard-pressed to find CEOs worth their mettle. 

  • Thinking they are not just Captain America, but all the Avengers combined.

Around-the-clock working and lack of enough rest definitely takes a toll on mental health. Exhaustion can unconsciously instill negative emotions, such as frustration and despair. 

This can translate into several outcomes, few of them good. Members of a start-up are generally more energetic, as is necessary. But overdoing it burn out the entire team; especially the CEO, who does more. 

The takeaway here? The CEO’s mindset. Physical limitations regardless, their belief in themselves and their team to get work done transcends those boundaries. 

Their rare and immense mental strength gives them an extra boost, making it a prized quality in a CEO.

  • Weakness? Never heard of it.

No one ever said it was easy to admit weakness. It gets even trickier with CEOs. 

Having only portrayed their strong side to those around them, they somehow trick even themselves into ignoring their weaknesses.

Stepping back and delegating for the sake of efficiency would be ideal for any company.

It is not an easy thing, not letting your shortcomings get the better of you. It requires sheer will. Any CEO that can do this can be relied on to be consistent and focused on the positives. 

  • Caring too much about ‘making it’

Getting interviewed by the press about success stories is definitely cool. According to Touchdown Semiconductor CEO Brett Fox, however, prioritising fame over success would take the company down the path to doom. 

For many CEOs, ‘making it’ does not mean paparazzi. It means getting their company recognised for its worth, as they see it. Which means the exhaustion would be worth it at the end of the day if their mission is accomplished. 

Farsightedness and perseverance – two important qualities of a CEO. The start-up with this CEO is well on its way to success. 

  • Yes, yes, good job. Moving on. 

Big or small, victories should be celebrated. Yet, many companies – or CEOs – always overlook the small ones. It gets worse when they are too harsh on themselves if they fail. 

Acknowledging accomplishments is crucial in boosting group morale. And that appreciation means a lot more coming from the CEO. It creates inspiration for future wins and keeps spirits up. 

On the flipside, CEOs can sometimes tend to lay back and lose focus on their goals once they get a taste of victory. 

The ones that move on quickly to their next goal have the ability to look at the big picture. Not being tunnel-visioned goes a long way in attaining long-term goals. 

  • Will you be my friend? Please?

Networking is one of the most useful tools for a start-up. Here you can find investors, mentors, and all sorts of other professionals.

CEOs, however, are at risk of going overboard. Attending every networking event they get an invite to and following every investor whose profile they come across on LinkedIn are signs of a little overenthusiasm. 

Statistically speaking, few of these newly-established contacts are of actual use to a start-up. 9 in 10 investors may be uninterested, while some mentors’ guidance may not be what that start-up needs. 

It is the CEO’s undampened driving force and hope that is the advantage here. They pitch to every investor with the same positive mindset. Each time, they hope this will be ‘The One’.  

The contacts they make are carefully stored away for a rainy day. This preparation and conviction are what make a reliable start-up CEO.


Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, even Jeff Bezos; every CEO has their drawbacks. It is the way they make up for them, that sets them apart from everyone else. 

Weaknesses are necessary for a start-up CEO. Without them, how can they strive to be one of the greats? 

Source Credit: Value.ai blog