It’s an unfortunate reality that less than 50 percent of small business startups make it to four years, according to BLS.gov. But it’s reality nonetheless, and everyone is striving to make it as one of the few still standing. Your sweat equity is beginning to take shape and now the problem isn’t finding business, but rather managing the influx of customers who want to buy from you. Of course you’ll have your own unique experiences, but here are some tips to help you prepare for scaling a startup.
Invest in Improvements
Your efforts have been directed to getting your products and services to the market before competitors can cut you off. “Now it’s time to streamline your internal processes and become a lean operating machine,” says the Huffington Post. Review every operational detail to find and eliminate inefficiencies. Ask yourself: Can it be done better? How? Remember, investors like to see a culture of continual improvement.
Research the available cloud-based applications that can ease the work in the administrative areas. Move your customer management into the cloud with a product such as Zoho CRM. Implement cloud-based accounting tools from Intuit, such as invoicing and paycheck calculators. The easier you make the administrative work, the better able you’ll be to deal with large-scale hiring and growth, should that be in your future.
Teams, Not Islands of Expertise
Startups often take on a flat structure with everyone gathered around the person with the vision. As you move into the growth phase that requires you to present your self to investors and other companies, you’ll need to show that you have an organizational structure in place. People want to know who is in charge. Who sets the direction? Who will be responsible for managing the venture funds? More structure, not less, makes people on the outside looking in, more comfortable.
Fill in the Skills Gaps
As you put more structure around your company, identify the areas in which you have a lack of skilled people. Hire contract specialists for those roles until you can afford to hire full time employees. Positions like public relations, human resources, web development and bookkeeping can all be outsourced, giving your staff more time to focus on production, marketing and support, as Entrepreneur notes.
Have a Clear Focus and Minimize Distractions
During the early phases of a startup, operations managers test processes to see what works and what doesn’t. Experimentation was the norm until separate products and services began taking shape as one. As your company matures, it’s crucial to focus on the core products, as Chaotic Flow explains. Set priorities, educate the staff, and give them the support to stay focused. When you have become a stable company with clear products and services, you can once again experiment out of an organized R&D department.