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From Startup to a Thriving Business: 6 Action Steps you Need to Take
As an entrepreneur, being in business can be fulfilling, exciting and scary at the same time, especially as the founder of a new startup. Many businesses stay in the startup phase for far too long because of not setting the right strategy for accelerating growth and becoming a going concern. If you are wondering why your business is not growing ,here are some steps you can take to grow your startup in the right way.
As an entrepreneur in the startup phase, you are most likely handling almost everything. If your business is to grow, you need to build a team that can handle some of those tasks so that you can focus on more important matters. This gives you a chance to grow and develop other people’s skills which can have an invaluable effect on your enterprise.
Three quarters of all business have zero employees. This shows that most people are uncomfortable with delegating. It will take effort at first, but then you can spend your time as the founder to plan the way forward for the company and come up with new ideas. By doing all the work yourself, you are simply not making the best use of your time.
Investors also usually look for a good team, not business plans or products when deciding who to invest in. This is what reassures them that they are pumping their capital and expertise in the right place. Delegating duties to other members of your business will help achieve this and in turn make investors more inclined to put their money on you.
Keep tabs on team members you have assigned duties to and make sure you are updated on any progress or problems. Finally, when work is completed, be sure to give recognition where it’s deserved. Delegation may feel like a hassle at first but by delegating effectively, you expand the amount of work you can deliver, build a good team and grow your startup.
Take Advantage of Digitization and Innovation
We are living in a digital age. This means that your startup will have to navigate the digital waters, whichever sector you deal in. These days, consumers demand around-the clock availability, personalized treatment and zero errors. Your business should be in a position to provide all that.
According to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, as many as 40 percent of fortune 500 companies will not survive the massive digital transition. This is a big change in the future of business and your company should be on the positive side of this if it is to grow.
There are many economic benefits to be reaped from digitization. With digitization, companies and technologies receive more capital. Increased affordability of broadband as well as the development of low cost devices has made it easier for more people to get online. It has also made marketing easier. Automated sales and marketing software like Insightly and AgileCRM are available at an affordable price for you to use.
You should also look into emerging innovations that your startup can utilize. Remember that innovation is not limited to technology. There are innovations of processes and much more. Innovation can improve the quality of your services and get the attention of the industry giants. You should have a good strategy put in place about how you will use digitization and innovation for your business’ benefit.
Manage your Cashflow
Eighty-two percent of businesses are forced to shut down due to poor cash management. This is an alarming statistic. However, you can prevent your startup from this by implementing the right money management strategies.
Some of the steps you can take are:
· Bill up front: Most startups use accrual accounting, whereby they recognize revenue when it’s earned instead of when payment occurs. This causes problems when the customer pays late or fails to pay at all after the company has provided the services. You can combat this by billing your customers up front. Use discounts to reel in the customers who may be pushed away by the high upfront costs. Introducing late-payment charges will also discourage late payments and help keep your accounts in order.
· Reduce your free trials: Many startups offer free trials to grow their customer base. Without a well laid out plan of how that money and time spent will benefit the business, they end up in serious financial problems. You don’t know if some of the clients you are doing pro bono work for will stick with you over several years and you might end up wasting your time. If you are planning on offering free trials, do it in a way that will lure your clients to going for your paid options.
· Online payments: Clients want a simple and fast way to make payments. This will in turn help your business get its overheads on time.
· Be accountable: This is a must if your business is to be successful. As a startup, it is highly likely that you don’t have a full-time CFO. But you should ensure that your financial records are well kept and that your team members are also accountable for your company’s finances.
As a startup that is looking to grow, you should also look into your expenses and identify areas where you can cut costs. If your expenses are too high, you may consider ditching any needless expenses such as office space and expensive systems.
Develop a Mission and Vision
As a startup, your mission and vision is what inspires you; it is what makes you get up in the morning and labor towards what you want to achieve. They are your baselines; the “what and why” behind your business (your mission) and “where you want to go” (your vision). These are the driving forces behind your startup. They represent why you decided to get into business.
Your staff, partners and customers should all be behind your vision. A good way to encourage this is by hosting business conferences where you invite customers and partners to share ideas. Get everyone behind your vision and get them fired up about seeking success.
Every person you hire will either strengthen or weaken your startup. Hire and train according to your vision. Look for contributors who are inspired by your startup’s purpose and a genuine enjoyment of what they do. Don’t be afraid to let go of people who do not subscribe to your company’s purpose or because of under-performing. This may make you make some tough decisions, but it is better for your company in the long run.
Setting a company’s vision lets everyone know where they are going. It will help you decide which activities are beneficial and which ones are detrimental to the growth of your startup.
Hundreds of thousands of new startups are being started each year. Chances are there are other firms; both startup and giants that are doing the same thing you are. And just like you, they claim to be the best at it. Don't regard them as just your competition. Instead, aim to put your startup in a good position to take advantage of new opportunities as well as be prepared for new threats by partnering with other companies.
The average return of collaboration is four times the initial investment, according to a global survey of business and IT managers. Your startup will stand to gain in sales, research, development and marketing as well as human resources. You may have a great team of individuals in your staff, but your ability to work well with others will have a huge say in the success of your company.
Getting customers is one of the most important, and also one of the most challenging aspects of doing business, especially for startups. If you get your marketing right then this won’t be much of a problem. You don’t have to necessarily break the bank for your startup to spread information to people and reap the benefits. Some clever ways to market your business on a tight budget are:
· Do things different from your competition
The best way to market your company is to offer quality services. Look at what your competition is doing wrong and do better. Aim to satisfy your customers. It’s that simple. By fulfilling the needs of your clients, you are building trust in your company and soon you will get referrals.
· Build an Online Brand
This is one of the ways that successful companies have used to become household names globally. A personal brand will create awareness about what your business stands for, provide a way to grow a fan base, improve credibility and get more customers.
Get on social media; Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter and talk to your idyllic clients on each platform in a way they want to hear. You can also use them to provide information and customer service to your customers. Build a blog where you share valuable content that excites and informs your readers. This will help create a popular brand.
· Build Customer Relationships
The services that your startup provides must be focused on your customers if it to be successful. You must create a number of channels in which your customers can give feedback. Customers are a good marketing tool if you satisfy their needs. All you have to do is keep them happy and they will promote you on social media and in other ways.
When still in startup mode, you don’t need a lot of financial strength to market your business. You can begin with these simple marketing strategies and once you grow, you may use other marketing avenues like Pay per Click ads and getting covered in local papers and media houses.
Guiding a business through a period of sustained growth comes with challenges, but the lessons learned will help you be better prepared. In time, you will be able to take a look back at the startup phase as an important part of your thriving business’ history.