Just getting an idea off the ground and a Minimum Viable Product built are exceedingly difficult aspects of launching a startup. But those are only the first stages, and the path will only get more arduous as you set out to grow your company. And that's why we've posted this guest blog post from Laura Johnson, a member of the Founder Institute network, that lists three of the most important things you need to stimulate your startup's growth.
Timing is everything. Impatience can kill your business just when it is on the brink of amazing growth. It happens a lot more often than you think. You see a promising business that has survived the teething stage. It is profitable and self-sustaining. Everything seems to be going pretty well. Then suddenly, it’s gone.
There are three problems it might have been, all starting with the letter T. In this case, timing. Like high blood pressure, it is the silent killer, except for startups. The signs are not obvious. It can be difficult to tell when the timing is just right for growth.
The market will usually tell you when it is ready for growth. But you have to be fluent in the language and listen with a sensitive ear. The change you are pushing might be too much too soon. As it is said of many things, One step ahead and you’re a leader. Two steps ahead, and you’re a martyr.
Being too late is no better. Catch the wave just right, and you’re surfing. Catch it just a little late, and you’re swimming for your life. Pouring money into growth before the market is ready is pouring money down the drain. Wait till deep-pocketed competitors take away your first-mover advantage, and you may not have the money to catch up. Timing is everything. Here is everything else:
By now, it should be patently obvious to everyone that you can’t grow a business without the right technology. Your one-person startup will not survive the expansion to a two-person business without the right tech, including the following:
These are table-stakes when it comes to business tech. What is sometimes forgotten is the software, especially the little discussed administrative software. Asure Software is an example of that category of business software that you may not find on the shelf of your local Best Buy, but you will find it running at some of the world’s largest and most successful companies such as Staples, P&G, and Phizer.
It is the type of software that helps you with HCM, workspace management, scheduling, benefits, and other HR challenges. The truly successful companies are not doing this stuff with a spreadsheet and notebook. That is no longer going to cut it when it is time for you to grow.
Do startups really create lots of good jobs? Successful ones do. And they do it when they are ready to grow. One of the signs that it is time to grow is when you realize that you can’t do it all on your own.
That said, you don’t have to run out and hire everyone you need. You can get just about any workers you require from modern employment agencies. Every skill type from coders to hospital administrators are available through staffing services. Short-term staffing is the lifeblood of startups because they get only the staff they need when, and only when they need the help. It has never been easier to find good help.
Growth is really expensive. You didn’t think all that technology and talent was free, did you? According to The Denver Post:
Lacking sufficient capital to grow is the major constraint for most small- and middle-market companies. Capital is the fuel that drives the company’s growth engine. Without it, reaching that “next level” is almost impossible.
Think about the amount of money it took to get your business where it is, which is to say, no longer operating at a loss. If you want to double the size of your business, you are likely going to need that much again. Growth capital is like operating capital: If you don’t have enough, you are not going to get very far.
You will be much better off remaining profitable and stable than trying to grow before your war chest is full. You can see how it all loops back to timing. Growing your business is even more precarious than starting it. Anyone can start a business. Only the good ones survive their first round of growth. With the for Ts, yours is sure to be one of them.
Laura Johnson is a part time blogger and full time adventurer. She enjoys writing about anything that sparks her interest. This especially includes her passion for business and branding!
(business woman drawing a chart image by Shutterstock)