Startup development takes time. There are challenges and opportunities in each phase that you, as the entrepreneur, must address. Of course, most small businesses don’t follow the same life cycle, but you can use some general insights from the stages of a startup for your new business.
Rather than struggling through the long process of building your startup, apply these five best practices as you go:
Create measurable goals
In order to track your progress, you must have specific goals. This means quantifying what you want your business model to achieve, including revenue goals, and setting a time frame for reaching those goals.
This is perhaps most vital for early-stage startups, or when you’re first identifying product/market fit, but it’s truly a solid best practice at almost any startup stage.
If your goals involve new markets or geographic areas, be specific about these areas and how much growth in terms of market share you’d like to achieve. Other valuable metrics during the growth stage and beyond include
- The number of sales and repeat sales
- The number of distribution channels
- The rate of new customer growth
- The number of transactions per team member
- The customer satisfaction ratio
The feedback you’ll get from tracking these metrics will either validate your strategy or signal the need for an adjustment.
While adding detail to your goals helps measure your progress, you’ll also need to segment those goals into smaller, actionable items. This simplifies your goals and makes it easier to track the relevant metrics.
Identify beneficial resources
A lean budget can prompt many entrepreneurs to forego using certain resources. Yet knowing which resources contribute the most value to a startup makes it easier for a startup to thrive. While you may already know about some resources like funding, skills, and talent, there are other beneficial resources you should consider.
For example, a social support system is a vital resource that many take for granted. Lots of entrepreneurs claim they’re going it alone, but entrepreneurs with support are more effective. This is true whether you’re just entering an expansion stage or you’ve already built a successful startup.
Your support system can include anyone from a mentor or business advisor to a spouse, family, friend, or colleague. Support can also cover a wide range of assistance, such as advice, knowledge, patience, and understanding.
Know when to pivot
Even if you’re developing the best startup idea ever, you may face too many obstacles to achieve positive cash flow and growth. If so, it may be time to change your business plans.
The signs that a pivot might be wise can range from your product failing to connect with your target audience to an alarming shortage of repeat business. If the competition is excelling at capturing the media and influencer attention you wanted and closing sales, it’s definitely time to consider a pivot.
In addition, if stakeholders are expressing reluctance or skepticism, this might also signal the need to change direction. Acting on these signs can help you keep the momentum going. You’ll just be advancing a new product, service, audience, or market.
Assess whether a partner can help your startup
The right partner can provide a specialized kind of support, including labor, skills, knowledge, and connections.
Sure, it’s entirely possible to operate a business on your own and achieve success, but you won’t have the benefits that a partner adds, such as a sounding board, accountability, and enhanced productivity. The right partner can also provide crucial emotional support, as well as introductions to angel investors or VC firms.
Consider a partner or cofounder to help fill these gaps in your startup development. You must be willing to relinquish some of the decision-making authority and even ultimate financial success. If that’s a problem for you, consider working with a business advisor instead.
Develop a knowledge-sharing system to help your startup team
Using a knowledge-sharing system from your company’s early stages onward not only helps your startup team accomplish their tasks, but it fosters a culture that emphasizes cooperation.
Much of today’s talent prefers to rely on self-regulated learning so they remain responsible for their learning and professional development. Even so, you can still provide value by giving them access to knowledge resources. Leverage channels and curate the information through an intranet, web links, online courses, and/or article libraries.
Other options for knowledge sharing include establishing an in-house mentorship program. Pairing your seasoned employees with their younger colleagues offers a more personalized experience. Informal mentorships can enhance the results for both participants, compared to more formal company training. As an added bonus for your new startup with limited resources, mentorship is a free way to expand skill sets.