4 Growth Tips
It’s not always easy for a new company to grow up into a mature business. Many fail before they even get off the ground while others struggle with issues like hiring, scaling up operations, and staying true to their values as they grow larger and more complex.
If you’re one of those founders trying to scale up your startup into something sustainable — without losing focus on what matters most — these tips may help you navigate those early years:
Invest in the right technologies
You might have heard the saying “build it and they will come.” And while that may hold true for some startups, there are plenty of other companies whose success is tied to their ability to grow as fast as possible.
These businesses need to invest in the tech essentials that make scaling (both up and down as needed) possible. For example, a cloud-native approach to app architecture combined with microservices and low or no-code solutions is the difference between an affordable and responsive app that hits the market fast and an expensive and difficult-to-maintain solution that isn’t easy to adjust or scale.
What makes a technology right for your business will vary depending on your industry, end product, and market. So be prepared to do plenty of research.
While technology is incredibly valuable for growing your business, it can potentially inhibit the company’s growth. Before you invest in new tech — especially solutions that aren’t directly connected to your core competency — you should understand where your company is in its lifecycle.
It’s essential to investigate how other similar companies have grown using these types of tools and to analyze whether or not the investment will make sense given current market conditions.
For example, if you’re still trying to gain traction with a new product, then investing heavily in marketing automation software may not be worth it because there isn’t enough demand yet for this type of solution.
Don’t obsess over the competition
As a startup, you don’t want to be obsessed with your competition. More often than not, they’re so far ahead of you that it’s impossible to catch up — and even if it were possible, all the energy spent on worrying about them could be better used elsewhere. Instead of focusing on what others are doing, you should focus on your own product and how it stands out from theirs.
If you do have concerns about how people perceive your company based on what they see from its competitors’ marketing efforts or user experiences, consider this: many companies have their own take on common elements in their industry. For example, there are dozens of messaging apps available today but only a handful provide end-to-end encryption.
Those differences make each product unique and allow customers to choose which one best suits their needs, so don’t worry too much about how one company compares with another instead focus on how best to deliver your product or service to your customers. You wouldn’t have customers if your business model wasn’t viable, so keep doing what you do best.
Sure, keep an eye on the competition, but don’t let them become your main focus.
Be realistic about growth rates and set reasonable expectations for yourself and your team
In the beginning, you probably didn’t have much of a plan for growth. You just wanted feedback and validation on your idea. But now that you are in the midst of scaling up, it’s important to be more realistic about how fast you can grow (and avoid over-promising).
Scaling is exciting and it’s all too easy to get caught up in stratospheric growth rates, using these as a measure of success. Which they can be, but if your product or service isn’t delivering while you’re scaling, churn rates are likely to rise. Remember that your core product is why you have customers in the first place, so make sure your growth doesn’t hinder how well you deliver this to end clients.
Team members are likely invested in the company’s growth too, but a culture of overwork is counterproductive. You want people refreshed and energized so you can get the most productivity from them, that means encouraging a good work-life balance.
Hire smart people directly out of college instead of experienced professionals
As a founder or CEO of a startup, when it comes to hiring, you want to hire smart people who are also hungry. You want motivated people with a strong work ethic and the willingness to learn. You want team members who can fit into your company’s culture and take on new challenges as they come up.
The old adage “hire slow, fire fast” is good advice for any business — especially startups that might not have the resources (or time) to let someone go if they don’t work out from day one. They need candidates who are ready for their position so they can get some real work done right away instead of spending months training them on things like proper communication protocols or project management skillsets before they’re able to be productive.
At the end of the day, if you want your startup to scale up quickly, you need to keep things simple and focus on what matters most. When you do that, you won’t have time for unnecessary distractions—and that’s a good thing. If we could give one piece of advice to new entrepreneurs who are just starting out? Keep it simple and keep your focus on the core product.
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