When you are starting a new business, everything is a threat to its success. There are no inconsequential choices. And that is a lot of pressure for anyone to face. Even if you have other successful startups, your new one is not like your previous efforts. Like a new child, each one is different from the last.
Your new startup is your new baby with its own personality, needs, and quirks. The world has changed dramatically in the last five years. If your last new venture came into being before that, you are really starting from scratch. Your previous knowledge and experience could actually mislead you if your strategy is just to repeat your previous success formula. This is one of those times where you can’t just rinse and repeat.
One of the pillars of a successful company is flexibility. You have to be willing and able to unlearn old lessons as well as learn new ones. Both skills are important. Many businesses are unable to move forward because they are stuck in the past. The only thing they know how to do is what they have already done. The first make or break decision might well be whether to hold on to what has worked in the past or start from scratch with new ideas. In times like these, the second idea is likely the right choice. Here are three other big decisions that will make all the difference between success and failure:
Warehousing or Fulfillment Centers
If the only retail model you know is one that was in use 50 years ago, you might be thinking that you need to invest in large warehouses ranging from 10,000 square feet to 100,000 square feet each. This has been an integral part of supply chain management for a very long time. So it makes sense that this would be the direction of your thinking.
Before calling a broker about commercial property, get to know the difference between a warehouse and a fulfillment center. The difference is subtle but can save you a lot of money if you make the right decision. Warehouses are properties that you own and operate. Besides the initial costs, the financial and time burden of managing such a facility can be quite crippling. Fulfillment centers are similar spaces that are typically run by third-parties. Such an arrangement can be a logistical lifesaver. If fulfillment centers can power a retail force like Amazon, it might well be the right choice for your startup as well.
Hire or Outsource
The right employee can make your business feel like a dream come true. The wrong employee can turn your business into a nightmare. When does outsourcing make the most sense? It should not be used as a reactive last resort. It should be a part of a carefully orchestrated plan. The same can be said of hiring. You shouldn’t do it just because that is the only model you know.
It is not just a matter of timing. You need to outsource for the right reasons. We can all agree that outsourcing to maximize the bottom line may end up hurting the community you join, instead of helping. You also have to consider the moral implications of where you are sending your outsourcing dollars, and avoid controversial sources and potential PR disasters just to save a dollar. This decision must not be made lightly. If you start with outsourcing, it is easier to transition to hiring than the other way around.
Mac or PC
Thankfully, the Mac/PC wars are mostly over. But if you make a hard decision one way or the other, you will be locking yourself and your future employees into an ecosystem that will have hard limits down the road. You don’t want to repeat the mistakes of other businesses by basing your operations on a bespoke piece of software that locks you into poor hardware choices for the rest of time. The best decision in this case is to choose both and neither. Don’t get locked into any hardware dead end.
At some point, you are going to have to decide between warehouse and fulfillment center, hiring or outsourcing, and Mac or PC. Choose wisely. And be willing to change if you discover you have made the wrong decision for your company.