Starting any business is hard. Very hard. Staying in business is even harder. Most startups fail. The details of running a successful company can be overwhelming. But fortunately for new entrepreneurs, most successful founders are sharing their experiences, success factors and lessons for free.
Indigenous (an all-in-one business management platform for independent service professionals and small businesses) contacted a number of successful startup founders and they revealed these growth strategies for any startup struggling to scale. You can apply some of them to your business. Read the complete post here.
1. Daniel Kempe, Co-Founder & CEO at Quuu.co
1. Actually consider if your business does scale or not before you embark on the journey. Sounds crazy, but so many people don’t do this and they waste money and time, not to mention emotional energy.
As your business grows, what is required to support it? How does that affect your margins? So many business’s profit margins fade away as they get larger–this needs planning first and foremost!
2. Don’t rush growth or scaling up–it’ll lead to mistakes. Plan-Do-Check-Act to ensure continual improvement when onboarding new clients.
3. Become obsessed with growth hacking! Be creative when coming up with new ways to engage users.
2. David Alan, Founder & CEO of ProperKnot.com
I have been very fortunate to have not really made any big mistakes yet. I’ve almost pulled the trigger on things that would have been extremely detrimental (inventory), but fortunately they never progressed. I would definitely say that I’m grateful for launching my product prior to it actually being ready.
We were able to launch and grow our brand, building an audience and developing The Proper Knot™ into a better product, all while no one really knew who or what we were. We also never invested into inventory. We kept everything made to order. This helped because we never had older product sitting around that we couldn’t sell.
Lastly, hold onto equity. Equity is gold. I gave away 5% to two different people who were rock stars one minute then 6 weeks later they disappeared and wouldn’t even return emails. We never signed paperwork so my attorney gave me the okay to get rid of them, but it could have been a disaster.
Scale Up Business Recap:
1. Inventory: Drag this on as long as you can as long as you’re not hurting your business
2. Launch: Don’t wait. Your product is going to change. Listen to your consumers and adapt.
3. Equity: Maintain as much as you can. Only give away equity when you are without a doubt certain of the person. Your gut won’t lie
3. Paul May, Co-Founder & CEO of Buzzstream
Nothing is more correlated to the growth of our business than the success of our hiring efforts…when we’ve hired the right people, set them up for success and retained them, we’ve grown rapidly. When we’ve done it poorly, we’ve seen growth slow.
To do this, we’ve implemented a very rigorous hiring process. We put together a complete “scorecard” for every job, we go through a detailed interview process, and we conduct a lot of reference calls.
More than anything else, we look for people who have a startup mindset. We look for people who have a good attitude, are comfortable learning new things with little guidance, love working in a team environment and have a “get s*** done mentality.” :)
4. John Turner, Founder & CEO of Usersthink.com
1. You’ll scale up faster by focusing on fewer things at first, not more.
This might be a little counterintuitive, but it was an important lesson to learn in scaling up UsersThink. It’s easy to not only think of scaling as doing more things, but it’ll be hard to resist the feeling that doing more things means you’ve scaled up.
But the way to grow quickly is often to double and triple down on a very small number of things that are working. Don’t worry about later company sizes when each scale tactic will be it’s own department, just worry about finding a very small number of approaches (3 at most, ideally 1-2) that help you grow.
This is hard not only because it’ll feel counterintuitive, but it also won’t feel like what a “real company” does. Fight those urges and keep your focus, even if you have more resources on hand.
Note: You should still experiment with different growth channels and tactics, but don’t throw gas on the fire until you KNOW that a new approach would be 10x better than what you’re doing now.
5. Ron Young, Founder & CEO of Shocase
Don’t expand your customer base at the expense of losing what made you special in the first place. If customers are coming to you, there is a reason for it. An expanding customer base may start pulling you in many different directions.
Don’t chase every opportunity but rather build on your core values and strengths. Testing plays an important role in determining where your business should go next. See what’s working, always with an eye on what made you special in the first place.
6. Michael Cheng, Co-Founder of Snip.ly
When thinking about scaling up your business, you should break the process down into smaller, more manageable chunks. Figure out each area individually. Figure out how to scale up your team, how to scale up your product, your marketing, your costs, etc. As these individual parts scale up, your business will naturally scale up as a whole.
7. Matt Gottesman, Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Hustle & Deal Flow Magazine
Scaling business is all about your end customer: the audience. All too often people want to put the cart before the horse and build something without being in touch with their audience first. Once I started building a brand with a specific target audience in mind, I started attracting them and immediately developed a relationship with them.
Doing so allowed me to find out exactly what their pain points are and what they needed so I could provide it to them. The more I provided it to them, the more they helped me grow by spreading the brand. My target audience became my brand ambassador
8. Mike Trevino, Founder & CEO of Indigenous Software
1. When your business is looking to scale up, initial hires should be people you can build teams around. It’s inevitable in a start up that you work “in” and not “on” your business. If early team members are also leaders you can scale through them; it’s also a great way to set company culture early because leadership over time has history and a real sense of strategy ownership.
2. Maintaining optionality is really expensive! Have the conviction to invest in a market or an MVP that shows promise and gains traction rather than spread yourself and team over too much surface area early on. When it is time to scale or expand, your core competency will already be defined, and you will have established your beach head.
3. Don’t underestimate the value of partnerships or affiliations at an early stage. Initial scale often comes through these relationships; growth takes time, brand building takes time, going directly after the market takes time and resources.