Startups stories have become as common as bedtime stories in 2017. However, these stories are mostly written by the ones that succeed, very few people get a glimpse of the darker side that harbours broken dreams and failed endeavours. Don’t worry, this is not going to be another depressing story about how you should embrace security and sweep your dreams under the carpet for the fear of failure. The right set of tools and correct compartmentalisation of responsibility can drive your startup to ultimate success within a short period of time. However, if you have already started out on the chosen path you must remember that there are no shortcuts to success of a startup.
Over the years, we have seen several startups mushroom and vaporise. From them, we have managed to learn that there are three main areas of focus for all startups: operational visibility, scalability and optimised sales and service procedures. Any startup that has mastered this compartmentalization of labour is already half way through to success.
What is operational visibility?
You cannot operate a startup without crunching numbers. You will not find investors if you cannot provide accurate numbers. In fact, assignment of funds for projects regularly demands enough information so you can make informed decisions.
Operational visibility is especially crucial for a small company like startups since you won’t have an army of employees to analyse your finances and ROI. Startups are fueled by short-term cash flows and you need to primarily focus on the projects that may be driving the cash flow effectively.
What do you need for increasing your operational visibility?
Running a startup is the ideal example of being a jack-of-all-trades and the master of all. In real life, it is impossible to cover all grounds unless of course, you are Superman. What you need right now, is a reporting tool that will note all expenses, profits and investments, in real time. A good reporting tool will help you to understand which areas are bringing in the most amount of profit and which ones need to be immediately taken care of.
If you are using a CRM then you are in luck. Any startup that is already using a CRM is 2.5 times more likely to be successful. However, just having a CRM is not enough. You will need someone to regularly update it manage it, even if he does it remotely.
Why is scalability a key concern?
Scalability is a factor that governs the future of all startups and about 70% of all startups struggle with it in the initial years of growth. Challenges of finding a reliable investor and maintaining a dedicated DBA team mainly contribute towards this ubiquitous struggle. In most of the cases, we have seen startups face growth hurdles simply because they have too many loans to tackle. The owners are buried in bills and are having serious trouble finding their way out.
This situation can be helped by adding a financial team, but as we have mentioned before, startups are known to be close-knit. They cannot afford to spend millions on hiring new talents with highly specialised skill sets. However, they can be helped by smart debt management strategies. Many startups that have grown successful post-2010 have relied on business consolidation loans and debt counselling to restore their financial health.
Financially healthy startups usually find it easier to grow with time and opportunity. This further leads to the addition of important teams and hubs like sales, services, operations and marketing.
How to build sales and support operation?
Building a sales and support operation from scratch is more than exasperating for new startups. They require endless time and energy. More often than not, startups end up employing hit-and-trial methods that deplete them of money and enthusiasm. You must remember, as a startup, your resources are the limiting factor and you cannot squander them behind standardising sales processes and marketing operations.
The easy and smart way out is to ask for professional help. Don’t worry! We are not asking you to spend thousands. There are multiple online platforms and cloud-based tools that give you working marketing solutions and sales processes. The resultant sales cycles are shorter and more rewarding. You will end up closing more deals and making more profit by investing a little on these socialised services.
The best part about these applications and tools is possibly their customization opportunities. You can feed curated data into these tools and get personalised solutions for your business situation for no added cost. You can definitely cut down on overheads and adopt best business practices without spending unnecessarily on hiring new analysts or marketing team members.
Is your startup on the right track?
Research shows that only 70% of startups survive the first year of business and about 50% of the startups survive the fourth year. The figures are quite dismal indeed, however, the good news is – if your business has survived the first few critical years, it is highly likely that you are on your stairway to heaven.
We have also seen several startups tumble and fall despite having the best tools, applications and software programs. This is simply because they failed to manage their finances properly or they went to the wrong kind of debt consolidating companies. The key is to invest smartly and to call for debt counselling without feeling ashamed. If you think you are drowning in bills and due payments, it is time for a consolidation effort. Although it may seem like an added expense, calling for expert debt counselling is one investment every new startup should make as soon as possible.