Grow Your Startup: Three Tips To Help You Boost Your Business
During the early startup phase, successful entrepreneurs found the so-called product-market-fit, where they identified and validated the problem statement, the value of the proposed product, the customers that will buy the product and the business model that will make the customers buy the product. All startups go through many iterations before they find the perfect match.
The next stage is how to grow the startup.
To grow your business, you need to attract and retain the right talent, scale up your strategy and execution, while at the same time, accelerate your cash flow. Here are five pointers to keep in mind when you go through this phase of your business trajectory:
1. Make sure you have the right people on board One of the primary reasons why startups fail to grow is because they have the wrong team. Over the years, when you grow your business, bad things will surely happen. Therefore, it’s essential to have the right team. To do so, you need to assess your current team members, versus your business needs to grow your startup. Be honest to yourself, and identify and attract the appropriate team members to grow your business. In this regard, don’t hire people like “yourself,” but rather hire people that share your values, and people that are smarter, much smarter than you.
2. Figure out your strategy and make sure your customers are key to it Growing your business requires you to have the right strategy and execution that drives sustainable growth in revenue and gross margins. If you don’t have that, your startup will face continuous price pressures, as the market commoditizes your products and services. Identifying and implementing the right strategy is where you should be spending the bulk of your time. It’s all about alterations: making a few decisions, testing them and continue with what is working & cease doing what doesn’t.
To find the right strategy, you need to identify who, what and where your key customers are and what specific value they would be buying from you. These insights will enable you to sell more into your existing customer base. Your objectives should be selling more of your product (more volume), upgrades to your product (up-selling), services/other products related to your core product (cross-selling), etc. It’s essential to understand your customer needs beyond your initial product-market-fit.
In addition, new customers should be banging your door, dragging along everyone they know. One way to do so is to use viral marketing strategies, tactics and tools. You could encourage customers to “like” your product on social media, offer discounts, free trials, incentivize your current customers to email/recommend other customers, incentivize bloggers to write about your product, etc.
3. Find ways to connect to your customers To successfully grow your business, you also need to identify your right sales channels that can give you access to your core customer segments. In other words, “piggyback” on others, and sell into their customer base. In Dubai, for example, you need to find the right companies, government entities and other market access entities that may have access to your customer segments.
In this regard, you need to identify the channels that can successfully help you match your startup with your target customer segments in order to create win-win-propositions. Your channels need to understand that:
- You, as a startup, need to:
- make money by signing contracts
- do business development to grow sales and accelerate market penetration
- do customer validation of your products and get access to market insights
- get brand/product exposure to promote your businesses/brands
- build relationships to get insights in how to capture, retain and grow as your key customers
- And your target customers need to:
- reduce risks by broadening their supplier base in Dubai and UAE
- be cost-effective by fulfilling their procurement needs
- reduce their workload by obtaining qualified and vetted offers from startups
- innovate better and faster by getting access to disruptive technologies and business models
- reduce their time to market by getting new market insights to solve their business needs better and faster
There are several (commercial and non-commercial) entities in Dubai that provide services to help startups grow their businesses. But Dubai Startup Hub’s Market Access Program is the first initiative in Dubai and the wider MENA region that focusses on helping startups sign contracts with corporate customers. Unlike any other initiative, this program is not focused on PR and Demo Days with no real impact, but rather identifying specific corporates needs, scouting and vetting relevant startups that could serve these needs and coaching both the startups and corporates in order to create win-win-propositions and deals. And if you are to create this win-win-proposition, you, as a startup, need to fulfill the customer requirements, you need to be coachable, and you need to adjust to the corporates “rules.”
By Ahmed Abdulwahab, founder and CEO, Next Arabia