Have you ever stopped to think if your company might have outgrown itself? Are you finding that you’re stretching to deal with the new demands that have been placed upon the business? Are you struggling to get all that work done in a tiny office? Are customers banging at your door, eager to find out what you’ll be coming up with next? There’s a very good possibility that you’ve outgrown the startup phase.
Now, your business is ready to explode into a fully-formed business with plenty of expansion in the next few years. But, how do you know that this is the case? How can you be sure that you’re ready to invest more money into your ever-growing company? Have you really outgrown the ‘startup’ monicker? You can use the following tips to help you determine this information.
You’ve established yourself in the market with quality products & services
Here’s the ultimate deciding factor. If you’ve found a niche in the market, and you’re providing quality products and services, you’re onto a winner. Customers and clients are flocking to you, and you’re gaining massive profits as a result.
You can look at examples like Psyonix for this purpose. Before they released the ultra-popular Rocket League video game in 2015, they could have been considered a startup. It wasn’t long before they made their business transition due to a massively successful product launch.
You’re attracting investors & business clients
There was a time when you’d be ringing and emailing any investor or client you could find. 99% of the time, you were probably getting polite rejections, right?! If you’re now finding that the tables have turned, and they’re coming to you, that’s an excellent sign.
It’s a sign that you’re doing the right things with your business, and that future success is a distinct possibility. Ultimately, if you’re getting investors on board, you’re moving away from the startup phase.
You no longer need to employ cold marketing techniques
Starting a business and trying to generate interest is incredibly hard. One of the ways many companies do it in the early days is to employ cold marketing techniques. They’ll cold call everyone they can find, and they’ll risk putting them off altogether if those calls become irritating.
If you start to achieve success, however, you can put these irritating techniques to bed. Now, you’re free to start focusing on your customer service in a more positive way. You’ll need to upgrade it, though, and that requires growth.
‘High-risk’ isn’t a term you’re using anymore
When you first get involved in business, you’re working in a very high-risk environment. Everything you do comes with a massive degree of a risk, and you never just know if you’re business will fold tomorrow. Once you start gaining success, those risk levels slowly start to lessen.
If everything goes well, you’ll get to a point where ‘high-risk’ isn’t a term you need to use anymore. You’re past that stage, and your company is now able to take more risks with less devastating potential consequences. That means you can expand without worry, leading to an expansion beyond what a startup allows.
You’re experiencing rapid growth
It might just be as simple as the fact that you’re experiencing rapid growth that you’re struggling to maintain. Some businesses get off to a flying start, even if they aren’t all that established yet. Before long, you’ll find that your premises aren’t suitable, and you need to invest more in the business to retain that success. T
here is a fine balance between rapid growth and overgrowth, though. This article from Forbes mentions a quote from Hampton Creek CEO Josh Tetrick. He says that “if you’re doing too much and you’re stretched too thin, you’re not going to be good.” Ultimately, whether you thrive on rapid growth or not, it’s usually a sign that you’re past the startup phase.
You’ve set your long-term plan in motion
Many of us understand what it’s like to try and juggle the demands of a new business while creating a sustainable plan. In those first few years, that plan will probably change multiple times. The struggles of establishing a new company comes with plenty of unforeseen pitfalls.
Once they arrive, that plan is altered to adapt to the new situation. Eventually, with the right amount of success, you’ll fall upon a sustainable plan. Now, you’ve finally got goals to work towards, and for the first time, they seem viable. Once you’ve got that plan in place, you’re able to start moving forward.
You’re hiring more staff than your premises can accommodate
Once you’ve hired a certain number of employees, you’re not going to be able to grow at your current level any further. Eventually, you’ll all be restricted by the amount of space you’re able to work in. By upgrading your premises, you’ll be opening up new possibilities for growth in the future.
However, this is a big decision. Making it puts out a statement of intent that you plan to ditch the ‘startup’ name and move into the big wide world of business. The choice is up to you, but you’ll need to grow eventually if you want to move forward.
You’ve built trust
Any startup can build up trust with loyal customers and clients on a small level. Having that base takes away an element of risk, and gives you something to build off of. Eventually, you’ll get to a point where you’ve got a whole database of loyal followers.
At this point, you’re going to need to improve your customer service operations to retain the trust that you’ve built. The only way to do this is to start growing further and investing more in your customer service operations.
What Happens Next?
If you’ve been reading those tips and feeling like your business has outgrown its startup phase, there’s work to be done. Now, it’s time to push forward. There are a few key areas that you’re going to want to focus on before you do anything else.
We’ve just mentioned how important customer service can be when developing a loyal base. Now, you need to start investing much more heavily in making sure your growing number of customers are satisfied. “Every day we’re saying, ‘How can we keep the customer happy?
How can we get ahead in innovation by doing this?’… because if we don’t, somebody else will.” That’s a quote by Bill Gates, and it shows just how important this area of business is. As you grow, so will your need to work harder on your customer service techniques.
Restructure your business plan
You know that business plan that has finally seen some stability in recent times? It’s time to tinker with it all over again. Now, you want to set brand-new goals for yourself. If you’re ready to step out of the startup phase, what are you aiming to achieve? What’s next on your list of ambitions for the company? By setting future goals, you’ll have a better inclination of exactly what needs to be done, and how much money needs to be invested.
Equip yourself for the future
So, you’ve got that plan all ready to go, and that means you can start looking at what you need to equip yourself with. Firstly, there are the new premises that you need to expand into. Then, there’s additional equipment, marketing costs, and much more that might need to be a consideration.
Are you able to invest in these additional areas? How much can you afford to spend? Where does the money need to go? All of these questions need to be answered, and action needs to then be taken.
Invest in talented staff
You’ve already built up a loyal band of workers to bring your company to this point. Now, as you grow further, you’ll undoubtedly want to bring a few more on board. Now that you’re no longer a startup, you might be in a position to pay your workers a little extra than you used to.
Use this chance to give promotions and wage rises to the most talented members of your team. When hiring additional members, use your new capabilities to hire the best talent out there. If you invest in your staff, you’ll benefit from greater productivity as you grow.
Don’t lose sight of what brought you to the dance
You’ve been successful up to this point because of a formula that has worked for your company. Far too often, companies lose sight of what got them this far. When growth kicks in, they rapidly change the way they do things, often leading to failure.
The idea is to build off your past successes and enhance them further. Continue to listen to your customers and clients, and make sure you’re meeting their needs. If you take matters into your own hands, you risk losing the backbone of your company.