How to Go From Startup to Global Leader in 4 Steps
How does a garage startup achieve success on the world stage?
Each year, around 100 million businesses are launched globally. That’s more than three startups per second. In the UK alone, a new tech business was launched every 30 minutes in 2020. Inevitably, the vast majority of these businesses will sadly collapse within five years, with some estimating the failure rate to be as high as 90%. In my experience with my own business, I know it’s not a linear process to achieve success on a global scale.
When you first launch your start-up, it’s easy to get caught up in the everyday noise and endless to-do lists. Sure, the day-to-day tasks are fundamental in keeping the cogs turning. However, it can hamper your ability to focus on the bigger picture and pursue your long-term strategy and goals.
Building SMSGlobal from the ground up during the global financial crisis, I’ve gained some valuable insight into what it takes to make a business profitable, sustainable and resilient.
1. Ensure your product or service is future-proof
Before SMSGlobal, I embarked on a number of business ventures that I thought would be successful. However, each venture invariably became redundant with changing consumer trends and the introduction of new products on the market.
Those experiences were deflating, but they forced me to go back to the drawing board and reassess. I realized I needed a product that would stand the test of time.
My lightbulb moment came when a friend asked for advice on a quote they received from an SMS company. I was genuinely surprised at how expensive the quote was, given the cost to the supplier. When I realized I could offer the same service for much less and considered the ongoing appeal of SMS technology for decades to come, the seeds were planted for what would become SMSGlobal.
Indeed, over 15 years later, SMS technology is still one of the most effective forms of mobile communication. Despite the introduction of various new applications, SMS remains relevant and widely adopted by people all around the world. Many businesses still prefer SMS to other apps, given its widespread accessibility. After all, unlike other apps, SMS functionality is pre-built into every phone. While new communication technology emerges every year, it’s the familiarity and dependability of SMS that continues to appeal to both businesses and end-users alike.
There are millions of entrepreneurs with credible ideas. But for a business to have longevity, it must provide a product that won’t easily be made redundant.
2. Hand over the reins (and hire the right people)
I quickly learned that you can’t micromanage every aspect of your business. So it’s critical to employ others who are experts in their fields.
One of your first priorities should be hiring the best people you can find so that you can hand over the reins in confidence. Your team can make or break your business, so it’s imperative to have people who believe in your vision and will work towards helping you achieve it.
The right employees can grow and mature with your business and help you navigate challenging environments. Hire people you can rely on so that if you need a break (which we all do at some point), you can trust that the team you’ve built is capable of managing your business.
Related: How One Bad Hire Can Spoil the Team
3. Trust your instinct
I’m a firm believer in trusting your gut. And I believe most successful entrepreneurs do this. When I first began scaling my business, there were many people advising me on all aspects of the business, from what products to launch to which countries to target.
This advice didn’t always align with my vision, and I soon realized that you can’t always please everybody. When you start a business, you may find that you’re pulled in a number of directions. Each step of the way, it’s important to weigh out what products, innovations and decisions align with your values and pass on the ones that don’t.
4. Learn to adapt
If the current global pandemic has taught us anything, it is that the key to survival is adaptability in both thought and action. Indeed, 2021 reports suggest that many of the S&P 500 will be replaced in the next ten years by companies that embrace and adapt to the current digital revolution.
The competitive nature of business means that companies must have a sound understanding of their customer’s ever-changing business goals and the ability to fulfill their requirements. This ability to evolve with customer needs has undoubtedly been one of the key factors to my company's ongoing success. For example, we recently identified a growing demand for instant two-way communication between businesses and end-users. So our team pitched an idea that would enable users to do it with ease within our platform. The SMS Conversation Window, which allows you to message recipients one-on-one, was released soon after.
You can achieve a competitive edge with services that not only provide a solution for current challenges, but also develop with future demands. Whether it be competitive pricing, UX requirements or further personalization of customer journeys, it’s critical to build a business that can accommodate shifting customers demands, expectations, regulation changes and technological advancements. I believe the way forward is to evolve and adapt to existing customer needs whilst always keeping an eye on the future — and the constantly evolving road ahead.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor