Launching and running a successful business requires planning, grit, and endurance to help you weather the storms and challenges along the way.
Launching a successful startup is no walk in the park, requiring an entrepreneur’s full dedication and commitment. After investing resources to jump-start your business, the prospects of failure can be scary. However, once your business is up and running, you need to think of growing it to the next level.
The satisfaction of witnessing your business idea blossom and impact the community and your financial freedom is second to none. This article aims to show practical ways to take your startup to the next level, but before that, let’s evaluate how you know your startup is going somewhere.
Signs that your startup is ready for the next level
Before taking the next big step to expand your business operation and improve profitability, you should evaluate whether you are ready. Are your systems and employees ready for the big change in the operations? Here are some signs to look for:
● Strong core team
A startup’s success depends on the strength of the people running it. Before you think of expanding, ask yourself if you have a dedicated and ambitious team committed to your long-term course. Like you, the team should show a similar passion for achieving your business goals.
Passion and commitment will help them adapt to their challenges during expansion. Of course, you want to ensure that you have an adequate workforce to prevent employees’ dissatisfaction due to on-the-job pressure.
● Reliable infrastructure
A sturdy infrastructure is essential for a startup’s long-term success. Does your startup have a defined target audience? Do you have a value proposition for your customers? Does your startup have a defined organizational structure to keep things running smoothly?
If you have your mission and vision statement, you will faster find solutions to major problems. An established structure is a good indication you can handle growth.
● Positive cash flow
Generating profits should not be confused with maintaining a positive cash flow. Calculate the money that goes in and out of your business’s bank account to determine your cash flow.
You should be able to incentivize your debtors to pay early and delay cash outlay as long as possible to maintain a positive cash flow. You need a positive cash flow because costs will increase when you scale up operations.
● You are unable to handle all clients.
When you launch a startup, you may not have many clients. It may be easy to handle all your operations and clients with few employees. However, when you realize that you have to turn away clients, it could be time to scale your operations.
If new clients keep coming for your services, it shows that you can make more profit by employing more employees and investing in additional tools to help with the workload. Is demand for your services outpacing your supply? Don’t turn customers away; expand!
● Enriched legal knowledge
Although most startups focus on profitability and cash flow, those considering scaling should also focus on improving their business legal know-how. As your business spreads its wings, you will need to comply with several government regulations.
Some regulations deal with employee and consumer data security, taxes, and returns. If you are ignorant of these rules, scaling can be challenging and even stressful. Regulatory issues about the expansion can help you maintain a healthy cash flow. Doing research will likely help you avoid falling victim to local or federal regulations and hinder your growth.
Ways to take your startup to the next level
Choosing to expand your operations comes with its unique challenges, including the risk of financial burden. However, growth is a good thing that can help you tap into your potential and realize tremendous success. Here is how you take you’re a startup to the next level:
1. Have a business toolbox
Business toolbox-what is that? It is a plan entrepreneurs use to carry their business conceptual frameworks designed to solve diverse business problems. A business toolbox will help you jump start and steadily grow your business to the next level. What do you include in the toolbox?
- A business expansion plan to help you track your progress and avoid setbacks
- A workable marketing plan to enhance your company’s visibility and create a loyal customer base
- Your employees’ manual to ensure your business complies with the federal labor laws.
- An established framework for computer networks and IT infrastructure
2. Hire the right people
You already have committed employees who have contributed to business to a place you feel you need to expand; commend them. However, the workload will immensely increase with scaling and overpower your existing workforce. You can hire passionate employees to help reduce possible burnout associated with work overload, especially employees looking for a second chance in life.
If you find individuals who receive certain certifications or training when incarcerated, you can tap into their eagerness to impress on their first entry-level jobs. Furthermore, hiring these individuals could result in tax credit benefits for your business. Employees looking for a second chance will want to impress their parole officers and define their life journeys again. They are likely to be committed to your organization.
3. Build customer loyalty
Attracting new customers is a noble goal for any business that wants to grow; however, keeping the existing customers happy is also key to your expansion. If you want to expand, you must build an excellent customer loyalty program, which begins with creating awesome customer service.
First impressions determine if the customer comes back or not, so make it count. Ensure that your website or online store has a beautiful and easy-to-use interface to attract new visitors. Invest in a good web design and host to ensure clients can get self-help solutions before contacting customer care.
Your customer service personnel should be friendly, helpful, and relatable to your customers. Therefore, ensure your customer services personnel feel appreciated for their role in your company. Build your brand around customer loyalty and reward those who have stayed with you from the start of your journey. You are likely to maintain a positive cash flow with a strong customer relationship.
4. Network! Network! Network!
Networking can not be emphasized enough for those launching or expanding their startups. When you avail yourself and attend networking events, you will rub shoulders with professional and successful entrepreneurs who have grown their ventures under similar circumstances. The knowledge they will share with you will help you know how to expand your startup.
Networking also has other benefits, including:
- Form helpful alliances with like-minded professionals
- Referrals and partnership from networking leads to opportunities
- Shared knowledge that contributes to the growth of your business
- It helps create connections that would improve sales
- It raises your profile as a professional in your field.
As you network through various business groups, seminars, professional associations, and networking groups, look for indicators that a person is in a position to promote your business. You could gain insight into unique trends you may not have noticed in the industry.
Instead of primarily using networking to attract new customers, look at it as a way to learn from prospective customers and business professionals. You may discover a ripe market that you can pursue to help with your scaling. Fully participate in the discussions and ask for feedback from people you meet.
5. Properly manage your cash flow
Most businesses fail to expand because of poor cash management. If you get your cash flow management wrong from the start, you cannot expand. You can enhance your finance knowledge by taking short online courses to understand the needed basics. Knowing money earned and money spent will help you determine if your business is profitable or not.
Furthermore, you can hire qualified personnel to handle your finances. If you scale your business, many aspects will need your attention, and delegating some roles to professionals may be a good move. Business finances are sensitive, especially for a growing business, hence the need to hire a qualified accountant, not a bookkeeper.
Does your startup have suitable accounting software? If not, invest in an easy-to-understand and use software to help you manage cash flow efficiently.
Remember that your business is a separate entity- the business money should not be used to cater to personal expenses. If you work for your business, pay yourself a reasonable salary rather than randomly use business money for your family expenses.
6. Use the right marketing platforms
Your startup already has a measure of visibility, but you should invest in marketing in the right channels if you want to expand. However, marketing is an art that you must carefully plan; otherwise, you will waste money. You can use social media marketing, content marketing, affiliate marketing, email marketing, and paid advertisement to reach your prospective customers.
Ensure that your customers get more than they bargained for by rewarding them with entertaining and informative information. You can also improve customer engagement by requesting their feedback on your social media posts. Marketing platforms you can leverage include:
- Social media
- Brand collaboration
7. Ask for help
“Nobody knows everything, but everybody knows something” is a valuable learning expression for businesses that want to expand. If you don’t know something, don’t be ashamed to ask for help from other experts in the industry. Successful entrepreneurs who have grown their businesses to multi-billion-dollar corporations will tell you that their success results from continuous learning.
You should also be willing to share what you know with others. You may be surprised at what you can learn by asking your customers and professionals the right questions.
The bottom line
Taking your startup to the next level at the right time is an exhilarating experience. However, it requires careful planning and preparation to execute. You want to ensure you have the resources, workforce, business plan, and support system to propel you to the next level.
Are there additional ways you can grow your startup to the next level?