While some startups succeed at the speed of a bullet train, others find themselves chugging away like a steam train struggling up a mountain. Christie Whitehill offers three pieces of advice to accelerate your business growth.
We all love a business profile that traces the meteoric rise of a startup but with the prominence of feelgood stories in the media, you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s common for new businesses to gain ground quickly and easily.
While some startups enjoy quick success with a boom in customers and impressive profits, the reality is most startups will struggle initially. As someone who makes it her business to help accelerate the growth of startups, I can confirm that growing a new business often requires persistence and patience before you can turn a decent profit and it’s not often that we hear about the businesses that fail.
If your business feels a little sluggish, here are a few things you can do to hit the accelerator.
1. Focus on value
Invest a lot of your time and effort upfront getting to know your customer. Match this with the aspects of your business offering where you believe they will find the most value and then focus on delivering more value than they expect. Catering to your customer in this way not only allows you to convert them to your product or service from more established competition, it also demonstrates your understanding of their needs and pain points and shows them that you are willing to address them as part of your business.
The second part of this advice is just as crucial. You need to make sure your team shares this deep understanding too. Be diligent with your hiring in the early days because aligning your team with the value you want to offer is hard if there are too many people pulling the wrong way.
These people need to be product-focused and at the same time acknowledge that growth is born from a deep understanding of how your customers use your product. From that, they will have a picture of how your funnel is built around your product and where you can find product-channel fit.
2. Know your numbers
Cashflow is king so you need to know your numbers before you can scale. I know this piece of advice is not new, but it is really important to stay on top of cashflow, especially in the early days. Conventional advice suggests you look after the numbers yourself until you grow enough to justify paying someone else to do it, but if cashflow is not your strong suit – and it isn’t for many entrepreneurs – you can save a lot of grief by bringing in an independent expert early on.
Get a second opinion and bring in proven expertise so you don’t need to waste time and money undoing bad decisions in this area, or missing opportunities due to poor cashflow. If you want to accelerate your business growth – then healthy cashflow is one of your keys.
3. Be agile at scale
It’s easy to be agile in the early days because you have fewer people to manage, but once you start growing, the culture of the team will make or break your ability to accelerate. A lot of this comes down to knowing who you need to hire and when: making the right or wrong hire can make your business a success – or kill it. Having people early on who can focus on growth and numbers, but with a balance of customer success and value, really helps.
It is also important to implement the right systems and processes. This may take a little while to perfect, but once you have the right people and the right systems in place, you can automate at scale, which accelerates your growth. Thanks to technology there are so many tools that can help you automate marketing, sales, operations, tools like Insightly, Zapier and Slack.
Once your business addresses its growing pains with the right value offering, good cashflow, and agility at scale, you’ll start to see it blossom.
About the author:
Christie Whitehill is an award-winning entrepreneur and mentor in the Australian tech space, dedicated to empowering and educating women in startups, tech and innovation.
She is the founder and CEO of Tech Ready Women and the creator of the Tech Ready Program—a ten-week accelerator specifically designed for non-tech female founders who want to step confidently into the tech space. It was recently awarded Startup Accelerator of the Year at the 2017 Australasian Startup Awards.