The growth stage represents a crucial time in a startup’s life for setting a direction towards the business it’s meant to become. During this phase, it is important to develop mechanisms that promote agility and an ability to innovate. Doing so increases your chances for success and profitability down the road.
Here are five ways to make sure each step you take is one towards that goal.
1. Find great talent
Great talent has gotten your business to where it is now, and great talent will continue to propel it forward. As the business grows and new roles are created, ensure you’re crafting processes to recruit top talent.
A talent management system, or well-developed hiring models, will help your talent acquisition team target the right candidates. You might specify models that compare skills and experiences highlighted on resumes with those of previously successful hires, to estimate the effect of certain characteristics on a potential hire’s likelihood to produce desired outcomes.
If your company hasn’t conducted enough hiring to generate sufficient data on which to run such models, you can use third-party recruiting technology to analyze candidates and resumes against the broader candidate marketplace. These tools can pinpoint indicators of capability and role fit, helping you develop pools of qualified talent and saving your HR team on time spent sourcing candidates. This opens up more room for other important tasks like conducting interviews and communicating with candidates in the funnel.
You’ll also want to post opportunities on talent boards as well as utilize the newer phenomenon of job marketplaces. These digital platforms can expose your recruitment efforts to additional talent pools and help funnel greater volumes of qualified talent into your hiring pipeline.
2. Strategize information architecture
Properly organizing information on departmental or cross functional operations will help maintain solid records, communication, and a structuring of data for analysis. Building on this infrastructure facilitates your business’ agility in its human resources, financial, and project management operations, as well as in sales, marketing, and analytics.
When updating or consolidating your information systems, it’s important to strategize which types of business intelligence applications fit your needs and produce an ROI. Financial management applications will help streamline the documentation of investment decisions and efficiently track the business’ cash flows and sources of capital.
Spending and budgeting analyses may also be conducted with this sort of app. Project management and human capital management systems allow work activities to be recorded for both organizational and communication purposes, and also aid in employee development plans or personnel allocation decisions.
CRM applications provide ways to store and reference prospective and existing customer data to inform sales and marketing material as well as relationship management. As your business grows, you may also consider aggregating information from these software applications into a single ERP system, which allows for visualizations and analyses to pull together data from different sources and departments of the organization.
When deciding what information architecture to invest in, prioritize areas you see your business experiencing frequent or costly pain points resulting from miscoordination or suboptimal maintenance of data from which to base decisions.
On the other hand, such areas for improvement may not always be so apparent. As a business leader, your goal should be to continue seeking out inefficiencies that can be addressed with technologies that provide
3. Further quantify sales efforts
With business functions recorded into intelligence systems, and that information organized and structured into datasets, you may run tests to solve problems or to determine new optimalities. Sales is one such area that can benefit from the availability and analysis of solid information.
By coding aspects of the sales process into variables, you can analyze past outcomes to model the effect of certain messaging strategies on likelihood to receive a desired response or generate a viable prospect. This helps to predict the degree to which certain mediums, timings, or content of your messaging will interest a potential customer and lead to a purchasing decision. Including variables in your models to account for and describe aspects of leads helps to project the types of companies or points of contact with a relatively higher propensity of becoming a prospect or buying your product.
This analysis allows your business to estimate the effectiveness of sales initiatives and types of leads, in order to improve results and long-term ROI. If results show specific aspects of your current sales efforts to have suboptimal estimated effects on desired outcomes, you might shift resources toward other strategies or marketing efforts that show evidence of better results. This analysis can also help identify any misalignment of your sales strategies with your target markets, and point you towards tactics that may better target those leads, or in some cases, aim for new market segments.
At the end of the day, so much more goes into the sales process than what can be mentioned here. It spans from the deep research on specific markets, companies, and individuals, to the production and design of decks that express value and conjure interest. It continues into the craft of building, nurturing, and managing relationships. Not all of this can be quantified towards optimization, but throughout your business’ sales operations, try to nudge decisions, processes, and deliverables forward with effective data analysis where it can find use.
4. Use data and experience to iterate on your product
The ability to leverage data to drive business decisions extends to your product or service. By taking in
You can turn this data into insights that inform on how to improve your product such that it provides greater value to clients and potential customers. It’s worthwhile to set up additional mechanisms, strategies, and mediums through which to receive market or customer feedback.
This may be accomplished through website analytics platforms, assessing engagements on your mobile app, sifting the web for conversations about your business, or collecting experience surveys or answers to naturally-introduced questions from your clients and prospects. Organizing this feedback data into business intelligence systems will structure it to be searched, queried, visualized, and analyzed in comparison to your current product to inform on iterations that further incorporate demand.
5. Maintain cultural identity
It’s important to maintain your organization’s cultural identity as change occurs, processes develop, and more people are hired. A growing organization experiences several forces that can shift it into the company it is to become. Ensure yours maintains a shared sense of purpose and unified objective as it navigates these waters of growth and disruption.
Even as things may become more scientific, don’t lose the ability to undertake certain operations by instinct, qualitative reasoning, and dynamic “feel,” based on your team’s situational and emotional awareness. Though, you may hold it as a goal to continually carve out scientific methods that can further arm your touch-and-feel abilities with proven insights.
As your firm undergoes this growth, the camaraderie, energy, and dedication needed to become a breakthrough company will provide their own returns, regardless of your ultimate business outcome. But with these tips in mind, your business outcomes should be more likely to generate their due returns as well.