Founding a startup can be extremely exciting in the early stages, but if things don’t take off as quickly as planned then it can also be equally disappointing after the initial wave is over. That lurking doubt of “what am I going to do next” can have you feeling as though you’ll always be caught in a rut, especially if you haven’t yet cracked the code to scaling up.
Within the first few years of operation, many startups are fighting to survive, but a fortunate minority come out striving from the gate. Ideally, we would all want to be managing a startup that falls under the latter category, picking up steam and continually growing without any hindrance. With that said, here are 12 things you can do to keep your startup expanding expeditiously from day one.
Invest in Project Management Training
The inability to scale up usually boils down to not being able to accommodate a demand that is higher than the current workload. When you have too many projects to manage at one time, the most obvious solution would be to hire more help. However, doing so won’t necessarily solve your scaling problem and it could be an unnecessary payroll burden. As the leader of the startup, you are essentially the head project manager – the one who hires the employee who is then titled “project manager.” Thus, you have the option of investing in project management training for yourself or your staff. You can easily compare courses and find the best project management training using a site such as findcourses.com who is the leading search engine for training in the US and North America.
Take Marketing into Your Own Hands
Most startup founders and managers have the natural inclination to outsource marketing and advertising to “people who know what they’re doing.” If you really want to know that your marketing campaign is being run to its fullest potential, you need to be the one managing it. Startups that are independently marketed are much more likely to succeed because they save money, have more control, and are able to focus on the marketing aspect of the business even during spare time.
One of the main reason why many startups struggle to expand is that they simply don’t have the funds needed to hire more help, buy more equipment, and invest in more advertising. As the saying goes,” you need money to make money,” and the fastest way to accumulate a reasonable amount of starting capital is to leverage your business credit and seek funding.
Invent in New Products or Services
Companies that blow up and catch viral fame usually have something extremely unique that none of their competition can offer. This exclusivity instantly propels you to the head of the line and makes a name for your brand. Spend some time to think of a way you can achieve this, and it will give you a tremendous head start.
Expand Brand Awareness and Web Presence
Having an official website is the obvious prerequisite for every startup but going beyond that you need to be visible on external web properties as well. You can make a name for your brand around the web by guest authoring and releasing informative or entertaining content in the form of videos, infographics, and blogs articles.
Become Active on More Platforms
Expanding your static web presence by participating on other blogs and content venues is a great start, but to really put your brand out there, you’ll need to also stay active on social networking platforms. Likewise, if you run an eCommerce shop you should consider creating stores on third-party platforms like Amazon and eBay.
Hire and Outsource as Your Budget Permits
If you really want to scale up as quickly as possible, you’re going to need lots of help. In fact, theoretically by the very definition of expansion, you’re going to need a team that continually grows in size, so be prepared to do a lot of hiring. Hopefully, some of the previous suggestions will be paying off enough to make hiring more help financially doable.
Try New Software and Tools
Every business model can benefit from the use of a powerful software management strategy nowadays, so if you haven’t yet incorporated that into your overall process then now would be a good time to do that. Likewise, proactively testing out alternative equipment and procedures will help you maximize productivity and stay ahead of the curve.
Use Cashflow Financing Methods
While funding was already mentioned earlier, there’s a distinct difference between startup funding such as a loan or a round of investments and ongoing financing such as invoice factoring. After you’ve obtained an initial batch of funding, you may want to look into ways you can finance your cashflow so that you can fulfill orders even faster than your company can currently afford to.
Open Additional Locations
If your startup is based out of a brick and mortar shop and you’ve had significant success in the first location, perhaps the easiest way to keep the ball rolling would be to duplicate what you’ve already done at a second location and so on. Even if you plan on doing most of your business online, franchising and becoming a chain can help bring the brand to national or even global heights, at which point you’re operating at an elite level of international business. In fact, after you’ve started generating a decent income with the first location, it should be even easier to launch another one.
Target Foreign Markets
If you’re operating online and you’re seeing decent conversions domestically, why not try your hand in foreign markets by utilizing translation services to make your marketing materials understandable in an entirely new demographic? Taking this approach can be a great way to skim past the competition in areas where your competitors may not even have a presence. If you’re marketing a product and have the capability to ship worldwide, then it would definitely be worthwhile to invest in a multi-language website.
Use Promotions to Outdo the Competition
Finally, one extra way you can draw attention to your startup and keep the momentum building is by holding frequent sales promotions and discounts. Everybody loves a good deal and you can really get noticed fast if suddenly you become the cheapest option in a niche. Take it a step further with loyalty programs, social networking groups, coupons/discount codes, and referral incentives to start creating brand advocates out of your existing clientele.
A Startup’s First Year Is Critical
Startup expansion has two very polarized possible outcomes. On the one hand it can be the most difficult time to build up momentum because you’re starting from scratch, but on the other hand, your newness can work in your favor if you begin to generate enough publicity to start trending. As a new and unique brand in your market, you’ll have the opportunity to garner tons of attention during the months after launch. The key is to develop the brand and heed the tips above to create the kind of productivity and processes needed to continue excelling. Marketing research has proven that startups that do exceptional in their first year are more likely to become major brands in their industries.