Want to start a business? Find your tribe first


Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely existence. Which is why it’s so important to find a committed network of engaged customers from day one, to support you and spur you on to succeed.

This network is your tribe.

At TribeFirst, we know the key to successful crowdfunding is connecting your product to people who share your values. Tribes are no longer a luxury for a business, they are now essential.

Here are my key tips to building a tribe that will help your start-up business succeed.

Know the difference between a tribe and a crowd

The fundamental difference between a tribe and a crowd is the time you take to nurture it. A crowd member is indiscriminate. Sometimes crowds gather, but it’s a fleeting occasion that’s not often repeated. They certainly never tell their friends about you.

A member of a tribe is impassioned in their beliefs and will shout about you from the rooftops, for free. They will turn up, time and again, and fight for what they believe in.

Are you building a crowd or a tribe?

A crowd… A tribe…
Can be bought Has to be earned
Can be spammed Choose to be, and even pay to be, members
Can be distracted by other brands or voices Sees your brand, business or voice as a leader
Has no common features Is identified by clear commonalities
Can grow large, but can disperse just as quickly Starts from humble beginnings, but will be in it for the long-run

Build your tribe member profile, then find them and hang out

List the common features a tribe member would possess: what types of media they consume; what their political tendencies would be; and who would influence them.

Then take this information and find out where this person spends their time – virtually and physically. Go meet with them, engage them, speak their language and become respected in their communities.

Get to events where they gather. The best events do cost money, but if you speak or sit on a panel, you’ll get to attend for free.

If you don’t feel comfortable speaking, consider getting media-trained. Remember, tribes have leaders. If you can’t speak to a group of people, you’ll struggle to earn their respect and buy-in.

Use digital resources to your benefit

Australia is a vast country, and not every start-up begins life in a CBD. Online communities have made it much easier to connect through common interests, so you don’t need to be in a major city to build a solid tribe.

You may need to engage some of your industry influencers in-person occasionally, to earn their trust and friendship, but so many forums and community pages now exist online, you don’t need geographical ties to succeed. Be active in participating in conversation, and make sure you’re saying something useful.

Find a tribe that already exists and that is looking for you

Rather than launch a product then find a tribe to fit it, build a business model that will appeal to an existing tribe that’s already looking for you. That’s what we did.

There are a million marketing and PR companies out there, but virtually no one built a company for a very specific audience: start-ups looking to crowdfund. Almost immediately our tribe came seeking us out.

It takes time to nurture relationships and build trust with your tribe. There are no shortcuts, but the effort is worth it.

There’s no time like the present, so start now. Don’t try and launch the perfect version of your idea. Launch the version that works then improve it over time, with the support of your tribe.

John Auckland, Founder, TribeFirst