Congratulations! You have decided to create a startup.
If you’re lucky, this will help you earn enough to live a good life and also pay other team members decent sums of money to help you grow and maintain the business.
However, it’s fair to say that you are definitely not the only entrepreneur with a good business idea. Actually, in the US alone, in 2018, there were around 30 million businesses of this kind. In other words, unfortunately, a lot of startups fail. A lot of entrepreneurs face irrecoverable losses by doing something wrong during the early growth phase.
If you want to succeed, you have to dominate the growth stage following your early months after the launch. Or you could contact an internet business broker with the aim of finding an already established business to buy.
Now, if you belong to the former group, you should find a lot of useful tips and information below. These will help you start things right and steer your startup in the right direction towards success.
Differentiate growth and simple traction
It is quite easy to mistake traction for growth during the phases you are currently going through. A lot of companies make that mistake and that often results in costly damages.
Both traction and growth come at different stages in the lifecycle of the startup. However, do know that their roles are different. Knowing where your business is at the moment can help you manage your time and resources you have in a better, more efficient way.
The traction phase brings the first customers and establishes your business’s early image. This is the phase where you should also focus on retaining your customers.
On the other hand, growth revolves around your focus on the levers that are attracting people. But the growth also improves these levers to bring in more and more new customers.
You can recognize growth easily by spotting two important elements — more capital resources and more team resources.
If you have trouble discerning these two, learn how you can take better advantage of your startup analytics. Data analytics provide useful insights regarding your business in general, but this data makes it even easier to distinguish growth from traction.
Identify a good growth channel
This is the stage of your business’s journey where you have to figure out what works for you and what simply does not. When you know your common thread, you will be able to identify the specific growth channel or channels that you should focus on.
A wise move would be to seek threads or themes that are common to both your best customers and the top industries they represent. For example, if your best customers are those with 10 to 15 employees or are from a particular industry segment, you should go deeper within that segment.
Don’t be afraid to measure
Managing your growth becomes easier when you can measure it. No startup can find a sustainable business model without pausing sometimes to get directions. These directions are what you get by examining the right metrics and from the data you find.
Most high-profile companies have employees that regularly check various metrics. Therefore, you should also check growth metrics every once in a while.
This is not stressful at all and it is actually quite helpful. Measuring your business’s performance makes you accountable. You can confront harsh truths and always look for ways to improve your results.
Just remember to pick a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) which you will track and report day in day out. Metrics will help you track everything, but it is up to you to focus on what matters the most.
And do not think for a second that any metrics tool is too much or insignificant. Even a free one.
Google Analytics tool falls under that category. But before you start using it, first you need to know why your business needs Google Analytics and how it can actually help you. This and similar tools that can help you measure every important thing related to your website.
Do not neglect customer support
Many successful entrepreneurs have a saying that goes somewhere along these lines — offering a good product is one part of success, but caring about your customers is what really makes a business great.
If you really want to provide great customer service and prove that you really care about your customers, you need to develop a customer-centric culture in your company to achieve that.
As your offering gains traction, it would be a mistake to think of your customer service team (or person) as a separate entity of your company that only deals with requests while the rest get to do anything they want without having to interact with customers.
On the contrary, you should build a company where every single member truly understands their target group (customers) and what they are getting out of the product you are selling. For a start, you could provide your users with a simple way to contact you and give you feedback.
If there is a good partnership chance, go for it!
Building a strategic partnership can be a powerful weapon to fast-track distribution.
When you sell to other companies, try to integrate your product into their product in some way. This way, you will be able to reach consumers who are generating the revenue (through ads or some form of payment).
A majority of these relationships involve a revenue share between the two companies.
It often happens that companies run out of cash during this growth phase. Do not fall victim to that misfortunate scenario. Do not spend on anything that doesn’t drive growth in revenues or efficiency.
Also, start bringing in revenue early on in your startup journey. This can help you stay invested so you can go all in on whatever growth channel is good for you.
Build processes before building everything else
These early stages are the ones where you should create written processes for how you do things. These range from recruiting and basic tasks all the way to dealing with sophisticated issues. After all, this will define your long-term success.
It would also be great if you could document everything. This will not only help you delegate the day-to-day tasks you do as a founder, but it will also make training, re-training, and process improvement more streamlined.
Bear in mind that processes tend to change as time goes by. However, when you have clearly defined manuals from the beginning, you will have something concrete to look back on as proof of your company’s growth and improvement.
Surround yourself with the right people
Finally, in the beginning phases and the first growth stage, you need to have the right support.
Even though it is possible to do it all alone and succeed, you will appreciate all the help you can get from the right people once you are done with the launch.
Consider the industry you are in, take a look at your rivals’ businesses, and try to figure out how many employees they have and what their company structures look like.
Obviously, you should have a small team for a start. But this is the very reason why you need to be careful when hiring.
Make sure that you are recruiting the right talent (equipped with the skills you need), but also find individuals that have the same drive as you. It’s not easy finding people that will share your passion, but it certainly is worth it.