Startups are now the norm in business, where risk-takers with big ideas flock. Launching a startup requires thrust to escape gravity, though. Yours may not be in league with Tesla or Uber, but who’s to say investors won’t like your special sauce? And while some attribute success to luck, yours should be about hard work, coupled with the knack to capitalize on every opportunity.
You’ve crunched the numbers and they’re solid, your business is primed to scale up. You’re even weighing the advantages of outsourcing development. But before you do, it pays to assess actual health with a handful of criteria. These four essentials are not exhaustive, but enough to ensure you have a good head start.
1. Focus on the Bigger Picture
If you think your business is now the big fish in your pond, then it makes sense to dream of open seas. You have to mind the transition, though, which means there are smaller, shallower waters to navigate before you’re really capable. Say you’ve valuated your business at $1 million, how high should you scale up? $100 million may be a stretch, how about $30 million?
Keep your goals realistic, and progress with doable margins. You’re likely aware many startups crash and burn because too much money was funneled into a flimsy business model that fell flat. Make sure yours is solid before you boost.
2. Your business deserves a face – like Apple and Microsoft
Many of the biggest brands are fronted by equally big personalities. Think Elon Musk, Oprah, and Donald Trump. While it is possible to build a brand separate from its founders, it’s in your best interest to couple personal brand with your business. For better or worse, stamp your seal of approval and front the business with a familiar face.
Building your public profile exposes you to the industry, opening tie-up opportunities. If eventually you’re big enough to spread out to related industries, your personal brand will tie these ventures together. Think Google, currently spread out into countless areas in tech.
3. Build, expand your network
This may seem an understatement, but have you considered there are connections you’re better off without? Some connections spark and sustain growth; others hamper, or worse, drag you down. Before you pursue potential tie-ups, do the legwork and research your investor. Confirm if your partners are financially sound before you commit.
It appears counter-intuitive to turn down opportunities for funding. It’s wise to think long-term, though, cut ties and preempt any potential damage.
4. Steer the ship, delegate the details
This is the pitfall of many start-ups, failing to focus on strategy and push with it. It’s true success is measured in small steps as much as milestones, but upper management is supposed to steer, even in small start-ups. If you find you’re knee-deep in routines you can delegate, pause and find someone to do the dirty work. Outsourcing development and processes to third parties lifts the burden, frees you to focus on the long view.
Hire specialists to take on tasks, prefer multi-taskers if you’re tight on finances. It’s important your head is clear preparing for investor meetings, setbacks, and other curve balls thrown your way.
Stepping up in business takes true grit, but it helps if you’re also equipped. Avoid the urge to gamble, though; businesses that went all-in and succeeded are the exceptions. Plenty more went bust and only had lessons to learn from the mistake.
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