Having the proper perspective is essential for a startup founder. Startup founders should always be looking ahead towards growth and aligning everything accordingly, through the easy times and the more challenging ones. Viewing your journey through the proper lens will give you the opportunity to fully utilize any practical piece of advice you receive. With that being said, here are some tips to keep in mind that I’ve found have worked for me:
Build for Scale
Building for scale has to be intentional. It’s common that new companies don’t start this way. Instead, they try things that currently work. And when they want to get to the next stage, it seems almost impossible. Their structure is not made to scale. It’s made to survive today and continue trying tomorrow. In the beginning, survival is most important and some companies even get backed with the breathing room to restructure. But why would you structure a company in a way that it is completely dependent on a future investment that may never come along? Instead, create a system that can scale regardless. Find out what you need to scale for in the first place, what the perks are, what the disadvantages are, what the financial and other implications are and then identify variables you need to consider in order to scale. Then make a system for those variables that allows you to repeat the same system you currently have elsewhere. Anticipate the problems that decentralizing your company can create. Make fences to hedge or limit against those problems. Make it so that the potential problems can’t put you out of business or water down your brand. If they can, find a way to eliminate or limit those as well. Recognize your established system and talk it over with a mentor. Try it, fix it, repeat it.
Don’t Rely on a Competition to Make or Break Your Company’s Growth
Oftentimes, you see companies invest everything they have in shows like “Shark Tank” or “The Profit.” The reality is that even the greatest of investors on these competition panels have passed up big startups and have made bets on numerous startups that didn’t get anywhere. Your future is not dependent on a show or competition or some investor’s approval. The market decides (but more importantly, you decide). Because if you keep going, you’ll figure out how to better cater to the market that will help your company grow.
Account for All Possible Costs
From a financial perspective, what does your plan for scale mean in a best-case scenario situation and a worst-case scenario situation? What goals does it imply? What resources do those goals require? How can you create that at a gross margin? How can you make the transition from costs to a gross margin on your scaled operation occur as quickly as possible? How long realistically until you see a return? Does the wait between mean running out of capital? Test your operation on a small scale before trying it elsewhere. That way you can keep the possible incurred costs low.
Incentivize With What You Have and What You Can Give
Find incentivize packages that can be attractive, effective and moving. Not every single person has to buy in on helping you grow your startup, but the right ones will. Take that with a grain of salt. Look to continually improve upon your incentive packages. If you can do better, do better. Don’t just say, “The right people will be happy with what we’ve been doing for the past three years.” Take your financials into consideration and don’t give away more than you are capable of.
Keep an Eye on Cashflow
You know what you need for operations and what you need for scaled operations. Make sure you are very sensitive to how this relates to your cashflow, and how your cashflow relates to your ability to continue to provide and improve upon your service. When you measure the length of time until you see the kickbacks of scaling, be extra cautious with your projections. Create contingency plans to cut back on these areas of scale if you ever need to.
Speak to the People
Kabbalistic teachings explain that the term for kingship is “Malchus.” Malchus is connected to the idea that a king rules with speech. When the President wants to strengthen the country’s backing of him or gain their support when times are tough, he issues a state of the union address. Through speech, you can give meta data to the facts. You are capable of taking the details of your journey and defining them in words that gain your company’s support. Theodore Roosevelt is known for his fireside chats and position that had him in the public eye in order to gain the peoples’ support and move things in the direction he wanted them to go. As the head of your company, you have the most eyes on you. Utilize that platform to make statements in support of your company’s cause and encourage the fulfillment of your company’s current needs.
Football teams and basketball teams usually lose the moment that they let progress get to their heads. Make sure you don’t allow a recent win to cause you to lose to the worst team in the league. Success is a journey. Remember how difficult it was to get to where you are now: Don’t rest on your laurels and keep progressing.
Thankfully, growing and scaling has come easy for us by learning how to be strong and inspired and continuing to scale when things have gone wrong. It sounds counterintuitive, and it is. But the moments of struggle have given us the greatest bursts of progress we’ve ever had. In order to be able to master stormy waters, make the calm ones easier and ultimately become indestructible, you should be able to tell yourself that you’ve seen worse. This is what has helped me.