3 Secrets to Scaling Your Startup Effectively Let's review some of the secrets for entrepreneurs to help them grow their startups effectively.
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Having worked as a corporate executive, entrepreneur and now venture capitalist, I'm often asked about the secrets behind scaling a startup. Ideally, every startup starts with innovative ideas resulting in unique products or services that customers are willing to pay for. Founders typically kick off with their funds, later relying on family, friends or angel investors to grow.
But what's next? Let's review some of the secrets I share with entrepreneurs to help them grow their startups effectively.
1. Start with a strong foundation
First of all, I recommend that startup founders test their ideas with potential customers. This could be through an interview, survey or by simply asking people what they think. Does it meet a critical need that customers have? Does it offer something unique that competitors do not? Are customers willing to pay for it?
During this process, entrepreneurs must be flexible in hearing feedback and adjusting their offerings to address it. In my experience, most startups start with fundamentally good ideas, but they need to listen to customers and adjust the product, service or price structure along the way.
2. Seek out diverse partners
It's challenging for startups to grow beyond their initial phase because it requires additional fundraising. Seeking investment forces entrepreneurs to fine-tune their business plans and articulate their startup's value proposition. What is your unique selling proposition? How does your product or service set itself apart? How much are customers willing to pay? Making a compelling pitch deck is difficult, but ultimately it makes any entrepreneur improve their business plan.
I believe that diversity is critical in startup fundraising. Different types of investors offer different perspectives. Traditional VCs are proven investors, but in challenging economic times – such as now – they reduce the amount they invest. They don't always conduct thorough due diligence and sometimes invest based on trends rather than research. Remember Theranos? Some startups aren't as promising as they sound, and some turn out to be complete frauds. Other examples of poor investments or outright scandals include Ozy Media, Outcome Health, WeWork and Uber.
Corporate investors are smart for startups to consider. Corporations typically do not reduce investments during challenging macroeconomic times because they invest strategically. They want to make money, yet they also look for startups that align with their business and technology vision. Investing helps corporations become more innovative while offering startups rapid growth.
3. Working together results in success
Corporate investors offer unique benefits to startups and doing so helps improve their results. Let's look at how this happens.
- Corporate Innovation: Startups make corporations more innovative. By investing, corporations find the most innovative ideas around the world without having to come up with them internally. It's hard to drive internal innovation, but investing offers an effective alternative. Companies seek out the best entrepreneurs from around the globe, investing in their innovative ideas.
- Technology and business alignment: Due to their strategic alignment, corporate investors and startups can work together to develop products together and sell them to the same customers. A startup's technology drives the corporation's product or service growth, and vice-versa. I typically find this results in faster revenue growth for both parties.
- Unique advice: Corporate investors offer individual advice to startups since corporate managers and executives are sharing knowledge from their own first-hand experience. They have failed, succeeded, and discovered ways to grow. By offering this experience to the entrepreneurs they invest in, the startup founders get a shortcut to success.
- Valuable networking: Another way that corporations accelerate startup growth is to leverage their networks and offer introductions to partners and customers. This is typically more efficient than startups developing their networks. A corporation's contacts have already proven themselves, so startups can often start working with these contacts immediately.
I anticipate that corporate investors will play a bigger role in startup investment. Traditional VCs may come and go, but corporate investors are in it for long-term, strategic reasons. Corporations increasingly rely on the Venture Capital-as-a-Service model instead of developing their own investment organizations. This outsources investing to an experienced VC partner, allowing the corporation to invest strategically at whatever financial level they choose. Doing so helps increase startup investments worldwide, ultimately benefiting the world through innovation.