My startup GlobalNiche equips women to use their online presence to build broader networks, connect to opportunities and be the agent of their own development. Six months ago we launched our product based on 25 years of experience, and we have customers. I submitted it to be featured in a directory of companies empowering women listed by a high profile women's empowerment organization. No dice.
"Come back when you have 1,000 Facebook likes and 1,000 Twitter followers." That was the response. "Oh, and when you have a full-featured website."
Seriously? Didn't see any of those stipulations in the directions to submit. Lot of big companies are listed. Guess they didn't think they needed to specify limits for who's empowering and who's not.
But here's the thing: being a small operation does not mean we are not seriously trying to accomplish our goals. It doesn't mean we will not grow. It doesn't mean the value of our enterprise is suspect. It doesn't mean we aren't empowering women.
Being small and scrappy can mean you're just starting out. Maybe you're seeking funding, incubation, acceleration, and entrepreneurial mentorship. Maybe you're taking the time to apply to be listed in women's empowerment organization directories alongside big name companies. Being small can mean going for it despite the odds.
The organization in question is looking for a baseline of commitment in the space, but they're asking the wrong questions.
Likes and follower counts are known to be gameable metrics. They're called 'empty metrics' by leaders in social media and entrepreneurship with The Lean Startup's Eric Ries shaming them as 'vanity metrics'.
And what is a full-featured site for a bootstrapped startup? What's required beyond a home page, an about page, a blog, an email sign up form, and some pages about products, services, social proof?
Does our site look like we've spent $100k developing it? Nope. We use a handful of industry-decent services and products to produce the site. Even when we institute the fresh look a designer is working on for us right now, we'll still look like a bootstrapped company until we have at least $15k for upgrades we envision.
We need help to take our work to the next level. We're asking for it. We have to start somewhere.