There has been plenty of blogging literature concerned with how to survive the early days of your startup. Tutorials exist detailing how to staff your departments, encourage sales growth, market your products wisely and set up an office with a tight budget. Guides exist detailing how to effectively manage your employees new to a startup firm, how to operate as a new boss, and how to implement clear fiscal planning to overcome the rock foundations upon which every startup stands.
What’s sorely lacking in this content is how you should act and plan for startup success. That’s the goal you began with. So why not plan for when it is achieved? Startups only succeed when success is considered an actual option. In the mad dash to survive and stay relevant as a startup, you might forget that success is even the goal. Daily considerations with startups are intense, and can distract you to the point where you get stuck in short term thinking, instead of long term planning.
When you do start becoming successful, it can be amazing to witness, but requires arguably more of a time investment and understanding of how to navigate these paths of growth. The following in-depth guide will give you the details necessary to achieve your growth with style and stability, all the while opening doors to even more future success and growth.
Know Your Market
You’ve made certain strides thus far, and that means you have successfully been able to market your product, gain exposure for it, and capitalize on this. If you have carved a niche out of the market you inhabit, you should congratulate yourself. However, the responsibility now rests with you to understand the market you have been successful within. Using analytic data, you might have been surprised at where the sales have accrued from, and the demographics your product has been popular within. Once you have established this data, you need to analyze it. Knowing your market serves two benefits. One, it allows you to tailor your future marketing strategies to try and retain this customer base. Two, it allows you to, while clinging to the original customer base, pivot your plan to try and make it more accessible to new interests.
The first few months of a startup not only serves an exercise in intense, focused business practice, but also serves as a testing chamber for new ideas. When you have limited relative exposure, you have the freedom to try new marketing strategies and product derivatives that a larger firm might not be able to try without negative corporate imaging consequences. Luckily, at this time you will be in the sweet spot of having the financial backing to try and implement new ideas, while also still being in the ‘testing stage.’ Customers simply won’t respond to bad ideas with as much venom as if you were a more established business. Through knowing the market, you can know yourself.
Assess Your Success
Of course, the only way you can capitalize on success is if you assess what went right in the first place. This should not be a self-congratulatory effort, but simply a surgical self-reflection that gives you the almost scientific data needed to try and replicate your success and emulate what you did right in your future exploits.
Some businesses fail to keep up their innovative and creative ability in this instance, in an effort to simply rinse and repeat what may have worked before. You should try and find a balance between your original vision, and refining your strategy to incorporate what worked.
As you increase in sales capacity, grow a customer base and develop more refined methods of marketing, you will need more staff and more departments to handle this load. It’s likely that as a new startup, you have tried to take on multiple roles at once. Now your role will organically shift to more of a leadership mindset. You simply cannot balance between support, sales, leadership, and accounting as you did beforehand.
Your business will only continue to grow if you reinvest in these added departments, and staff them with at least one competent individual east, at least to begin with. The time this will free up for you will help you try and solidify that golden resource, whatever it is, that has made you successful to begin with. Upon creating these departments, you will need to make sure that you enact each one with a company policy and methodology for working. You shouldn’t simply hire employees to staff these departments and let their competency do the work. You should sit down and figure out exactly how you want to proceed.
For example, when setting up a support department, you should find out exactly what platforms of support you want to provide to your audience. Next, you should ascertain what scripts they should use. Scripts can come off as impersonal, but they help provide your support staff with the exact framework they need to understand what to provide your firm with. It will give them a clear and concise way to effectively solve many support tickets in a day. Without a script, the support team can seem unprofessional. Despite your initial startup interest in seeming human and accessible, with growth comes the necessity for compromise and change. You simply cannot cope with the overwhelming amount of support tickets that arises from successful sales and provide a neat, tailored and customized solution for each one. Compromise where needed, and excel where you can.
dedicated accountant or team of accountants are required to keep up with the budgeting, accounting security, money management and tax requirements of a growing firm. Even if you are a whiz at mathematics and fiscal planning, this will be a full-time job, and your talents will be best used elsewhere. If necessary, you can outsource, but it might be more cost effective and beneficial long-term to hire someone and pay them a salary.
Always develop something new. Your established base of customers will only be satiated if you launch new product lines, new additions to your service, or some form of better infrastructure that benefits the end user. This can help you seem relevant, useful and exciting as a firm, labeling yourself as one to watch. Now have more standing, you might find that crafting your own software through bespoke software development can give you the tools necessary to embedding your internal IT solutions with fluidity and accuracy regarding the nuances of your operation.
If you’ve been using a makeshift home space, or a small office, you can now give your staff the space they deserve and hire a proper office, with security, spacious office desks, IT support and maybe even air conditioning. Your staff have been good to them, so it’s time to reward them now you have the funds to do so. This will mean much more than simple gift rewards, as it will improve the entire working experience of your employees instead.
In the spirit of rewarding your employees, now might be the time to bestow solid, reliable contracts and salaries for your employees, as well as any benefits you might now be able to afford. This can help an employee feel like all the risk they placed into working for your startup was worth it, and now they are being rewarded with the security they hoped for. Make a big deal of this. It’s an important milestone in the story of your business journey.
Don’t Lose Your Edge
We mentioned earlier in the article about the need for compromise as your business grows, using the example of a more uniform support structure to help meet the demand of your clients. You might find that there are more and more considerations like this that become more of a melting pot of competent ideas as opposed to the efficiency of a clear vision.
If you decide to go public, you will notice that you will compromise more and more in order to satisfy your shareholder meetings and try to provide sustainable growth at all costs. Be careful. Despite the temptation to grow your operation at all costs, remember why you took the risk of opening a startup to begin with. It’s likely because you were tired of the standard corporate and semi-soulless methodology of success.
If it means retaining your integrity and preserving what made you a hit as a new standout in your field, then be sure to never lose your edge, and stay fast and true to the business plan and desires you laid out at the very beginning, when you were worried if you were going to make it through the next month.
Just because you’re successful doesn’t mean you can’t keep learning. As a startup CEO, you have more of an obligation to yourself than ever to keep refining your competency. Larger businesses require better captains at the helm. Become one, making use of blogs like this one, and the free exchange of online information that can keep you sharp as a razor.
These 9 top tips can help anyone overcome the increased demands of startup success.