Thursday, March 7, 2013

Growing a Company from the Startup Phase

Congratulations! You've got your startup running and things appear to be going smoothly. It took a lot of planning and hard work but it finally all came together.

Now what?

There will come a time in the life of every business when you should take it to the next level of success. Is it time to declare you are no longer an official startup but a fully-fledged business? Are you ready to make that leap? Here are some insightful tips to help you manage the next phase of your business growth:

Expanding your staff with smarter people.

Just because it's your business doesn't mean you always have to be the smartest guy in the room. In fact, you would do your company a great service by seeking out future employees who you consider to actually be smarter than you. This is a sign of confidence and strength where you're putting the needs of the company ahead of your own ego. That's a good thing!

Don't rest on success.

Hopefully, you've had a good quarter or two in terms of profits. Take a moment to celebrate and then get back to work. Resting on your laurels won't help your business move forward. You should have the same sense of urgency now as you did in the first week of your operation when you were struggling to make it a success.

Look for the repeat business.

The most profitable businesses have customers coming back time and again. By creating a loyal customer base you are setting yourself up for long-term success. Yes, you need to add to that base but you need to spend just as much effort keeping previous customers satisfied. Don't hesitate to reach out to them by offering incentives for purchases or asking for feedback. Make them feel appreciated and they'll always come back for more business.

Be a hero.

Customers appreciate when you go the extra mile to help them. If you tell a customer an order will be ready in a week, try to have it ready in half that time. You'll come out looking like a hero and they'll be back for more business. And yes, it's okay to pad an estimated delivery time because in the long run that can help you if something goes wrong.

Keep an eye on your prices.

There is a sense with every start up that they are the "David" going after the "Goliath" of their competition. They can bring down that giant by offering deep discounts to attract customers but you have to be mindful of the long game. At some point, you'll want to get your profit margins up. That can only happen when you increase prices and cut operating costs. When that happens you've really entered the big leagues.