No one said the startup game was easy. After all, most entrepreneurs who set out to found their own company is in it for the passion and the challenge. However, it’s important that you know what struggles you’re likely to face going into it.
Some might seem obvious — others, less so. Whatever your organization is setting out to accomplish, it’s wise to keep your eye on a few problems that could arise.
In this post, we’re outlining 5 of the struggles that every startup faces, as well as actionable solutions that you can use to make sure they don’t sink your ship.
Read on to find out how you can optimize your startup for maximum success while taking a few hits from problem areas as you can.
- An actionable business plan
- Holding on to a dedicated team
- Finding optimistic investors
- Building brand recognition
- Scaling effectively
Let’s dive into details!
An actionable business plan
Most startups are born with a brilliant idea: shoes that automatically send your location to your friends; an app that suggests workouts based on your music preferences; restaurants, but for CBD vaping. Whatever your brilliant idea is, that’s what brought you to the startup game.
But an idea isn’t the same thing as a business model. In order for you to successfully build a company on your idea, you need to have a plan. Specifically, you need a business plan.
Essentially, it’s your how-to manual for building your organization up from the ground. Here are just a few questions that your business plan should answer:
- What are your primary objectives?
- How will your business become profitable?
- Will you branch out or stick with your central product or service?
- What key strategies will you use to ensure marketability?
- How will you keep ahead of the competition?
These and many other questions are the backbones of building your business. If you’re not sure where to start, find a reliable guide to building an effective business plan online. There are plenty of models that will ensure your plan is actionable, scalable, and marketable.
If you have the ability to do so, it may be wise to consider hiring a consultant to help you build your business plan. While consultants can be a pricey investment, it’s hard to put a price tag on the return investment.
The reason for this is that if you find the right consultant, they should have helped to build and establish multiple businesses. If this is your first venture into the world of entrepreneurism, you won’t have any experience building a business plan.
A consultant can provide invaluable advice that could be the difference between being a globally recognized brand versus a failed business.
Holding on to a dedicated team
The right team will make or break your company. Yes, it’s that serious. Without the right people working for you, you’ll struggle to innovate, collaborate, and negotiate the various parts of your business that you need to succeed.
One problem in particular that many startups face is high rates of burnout and employee turnover. This is bad for two reasons: one, losing employees part-way through projects can be disastrous, and two, having a high turnover rate can mean fewer talented, desirable workers will want to apply to your startup.
So how do you decrease employee turnover? The answer is surprisingly simple: make your work environment more collaborative. That means giving employees a say in the direction the company takes, offering them part-ownership in the company, and prioritizing their health and wellbeing. Happy workers work more effectively — it’s just science.
In addition to reducing employee turnover, finding and establishing good working relationships with a few key employees who really have the same level of passion and drive to help build the business that you have.
Using candidate-first hiring practices is a great way to grow your employer brand. Try incorporating candidate-friendly pre-hire assessments such as this excel test for business analysts that decrease your recruitment load.
Believing in something and being willing to go to great lengths to build something amazing are two traits that employees will need to have to help you build your business. If you find an employee who is willing to invest in your dream, make sure to keep them around for the long run and reward and incentivize them in an effort to keep them on your team.
Finding optimistic investors
Your next hurdle? Investors. Investors are often what it takes to boost a startup from bottom-of-the-app-store obscurity to a household name. Money from investors can be put toward highly-important causes, like hiring on top-talent, building out company infrastructure, and building your brand recognition (more on that next).
Remember that business plan we mentioned earlier? Guess what, there’s another benefit to making an effective one: investors will review your plan to see that your company is a safe bet for them. No one wants to back a company that doesn’t look like it knows what it’s doing, even if they have a great idea. A solid plan makes you competitive.
Courting investors will involve sending out your business plan and finding out if there’s any interest in your idea. After that, it’s all about networking, maintaining business relationships, and being a generally ambitious person. It can take a while, but getting noticed by investors with deep pockets is a game-changer.
Building brand recognition
Once you have a little startup cash — whether from a generous investor, initial sales, or a small business loan — it’s time to get the word out. You won’t see very much increase in revenue if you don’t spend serious time and energy working on a marketing campaign that gets you noticed.
Here are just a few strategies to consider:
- Social media marketing: The algorithms on social media sites like Instagram, Tik Tok, Facebook, and Twitter make it easier than ever to connect with consumers who are likely to be interested in your products or services. Using this method of marketing can help you build a reliable customer or client base.
- Content creation: People like a trusted source. Why not make yourself that source? Producing engaging content like how-to videos, explainer articles, and clever infographics are sure to get your name in peoples’ heads, so they’re more likely to turn to you when they need a product.
- Influencer marketing: Influencers command some serious clout with their followings. Partnering up with an influencer is a great way to tap into their organic follower base while also piggy-backing off their influence in their community.
- Paid Media and SEO: Once you have some marketing channels up and running and are starting to see some ROI, you should start considering purchasing ads and working on your SEO profile. If you create the right landing pages on your website and bid on the right keywords, PPC or pay-per-click can be a hugely valuable investment since it’s driving direct traffic to your site. If you are going to invest in paid media, make sure that you have optimized your site for CRO (conversion rate marketing) so that when users land on your site, everything is set up to lead to a new customer. SEO on the other hand is a more long-term investment but equally as important to your online presence. Endless consumers turn to Google to make purchasing decisions and earning a spot at the top will drive extremely valuable traffic to your site.
Startups are like sharks: if they’re not moving, they die. That’s why effective scaling is key to your long-term success. Sure, you might have a couple of hundred dedicated users, but in order to start seeing serious cash flow, you’ll need thousands — or even tens or hundreds of thousands.
That means knowing how to take your operation and make it successful at a much larger scale. At this stage, you’ll need to start expanding your hiring and building out a full HR department, courting investors with even deeper pockets, and reinvesting much of your company’s revenue into building a bigger organization.
While giving yourself a nice paycheck may be incredibly tempting, investing back into your business is one of the most important decisions you can make as a new business owner. Fight the temptation and try to put as much (if not 100%) of your proceeds back into the biz.
This is daunting, and every company is different. Take the time to carefully plan your growth, and remember that slow and steady really does win the race 9 times out of 10. The right strategies to face your struggles, from building your first business plan to scaling with purpose, can all be tackled with effective planning and careful attention to the details.
While starting a business can be a risky and daunting task, the end result could not only change your own life but could change someone else’s life and the consumer market as we know it. It’s important to remember as you are on your entrepreneurial journey to maintain confidence in yourself, your business, and your ideas and to not let doubt creep in.
There will be difficult days where you question if you made the right choice but the reality of starting a business is that it ebbs and flows. Make business savvy decisions, invest wisely, and hold out for your big break!
Samantha Rupp holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She is the managing editor for 365 Business Tips as well as runs a marketing expert for Trust and Will. She lives in San Diego, California, and enjoys spending time on the beach, reading up on current industry trends, and traveling.
Tags: business, saas, saas competition, startups