If there’s one thing you can’t take away from the startup industry, is its courage to dream big.
The stories of bootstrapped companies rising to become industry pioneers have inspired generations of young entrepreneurs, and today, every startup operates with the hopes of scaling to become a dominant force in their market as well.
However, even though there are plenty of success stories, they are way outnumbered by startups that withered and went under simply because they were too ambitious with their scaling and growth efforts.
So, to maximize your chances of succeeding, you must least learn from some of the more common mistakes and try to avoid them.
Let’s explore the most devastating pitfalls that many startups succumb to and try to figure out how to ensure that they don’t happen to you.
Trying to Scale When Not Ready
In order for scaling to work, there needs to be a successful model that can be scaled in the first place.
But even though this simple fact is very easy to understand, a lot of startup owners make the mistake of thinking that the only reason that they aren’t getting results is that their operation isn’t big enough.
That’s a flawed belief that can doom an otherwise promising startup to fail.
To achieve success on a grander scale, a business must be able to show consistent results on the level that it currently operates in. No matter how long the list of current clients, the startup needs to be able to cater to their needs, provide a stable and working product that meets expectations, and be able to turn a profit while doing so.
A company needs to have a certain foundation of happy clients and financial gains before even considering scaling and expanding because the truth is, growth also means more complications and tougher competition, as well as more severe consequences for failures.
Any startup that considers scaling should also have a crystal clear agenda, mission statement, branding, and a deep understanding of their target customers because all of these factors will play a vital role in whether success can be achieved at the next level.
So, if you’re already counting the profits from selling your website after scaling, it might be wiser to first get your operation flowing efficiently at the current level and allowing growth to come organically before taking the next big step.
Growing the Team Too Quickly
One of the reasons why some startups can achieve rapid success in the early stages is because of the mobility and efficiency of having a small, talented, and motivated team that’s able to make adjustments and address issues on a moment’s notice.
In fact, having a small team with clear responsibilities and an easy-to-organize workflow is one of the biggest advantages that startups have over larger and more established competitors.
It not only allows to greatly reduce overhead costs and offer better value for customers but also makes it easier to evolve based on changing customer behaviors and expectations, which can sometimes contribute to significant growth on its own.
That’s why, hiring new employees should be done with extra care and consideration, as making mistakes in this area can be incredibly costly for the entire company.
While expanding your team as you prepare for scaling may seem unavoidable, you should consider the implications that adding new team members will have on your office productivity and efficiency.
Onboarding new employees is never easy, especially since your company is relatively new and doesn’t yet have an effective process for introducing new team members into the workflow and assigning them clear roles.
What’s more, with a growing team, you’ll start encountering challenges that didn’t exist before like having to figure out how to communicate relevant information quickly and without spending all day in meetings.
So how can you find the right balance? After all, you will need to bring in new people eventually, right?
Well, if there’s one lesson to be learned from some of the most successful startups, is that continuity and office culture play a vital role in achieving success and growth.
Therefore, your main focus should always be in trying to keep your current employees motivated and engaged so that you have the best chance possible to retain them.
These people can become the architects of what your startup could become in the future, and they can be immensely helpful with integrating new members quickly and introducing them to the company values, as well as showing them how to be more productive by providing help on day-to-day tasks such as Excel consulting or helping to navigate your team’s workflow management system.
Not Having a Diverse Lead-Gen Strategy
No matter how you look at it, scaling startups comes down to one essential aspect: being able to consistently attract new leads. Without a reliable method for getting new prospects on a regular basis, you just won’t have enough prospective customers coming in to fuel your growth.
In fact, to have any real chance of achieving sustainable growth, you need to have a range of proven and working lead generation methods that can help you quickly expand your customer base while remaining profitable.
Unfortunately, many startups focus too much time on one or two lead generation methods and miss out on a lot of opportunities for growth.
Part of the reason for that is lack of knowledge about some of the more innovative marketing methods, and part of it is simply not having the time to implement more marketing strategies effectively.
However, lead-gen should be one of your main priorities at any stage of your startup, so you should always be allocating an adequate amount of your resources towards growing the number of lead-gen campaigns that your company is using.
But what are the best marketing strategies that you should consider?
Well, there really aren’t any wrong answers, but there are a few strategies that have proven to be exceptionally effective for young companies, with content marketing being probably the best one you could focus on.
The reason why content marketing can be so effective is its long list of benefits for your business – it not only generates a consistent stream of new leads but also is immensely helpful for your SEO efforts, while at the same time educating your audience and positioning your startup as an authority in your field.
That’s why content marketing should be at the forefront of all your efforts and serve as the fundamental material that you use in all of your marketing efforts.
Another great way to generate leads quickly is with using paid advertising on social media and the search engines. If you know your audience well, you should be able to craft a message that they respond to and start bringing in new leads on autopilot.
However, keep in mind that it might take a while until your paid ads become profitable.
You will need to test and tweak various details of your campaign and learn how to collect and use testimonials effectively in your advertising, as well as figuring out the seemingly minor details like the best-converting Facebook ad size, so be prepared for an initial period where you may have to spend a significant amount of money until you find the right formula.
Finally, an increasingly popular way to expand your reach and engage otherwise unattainable segments of your audience is to use influencer marketing.
Companies in numerous industries have had great success with getting prominent figures on social media to promote their products and services, so there’s no reason why it wouldn’t work in your field as well.
While you may not be able to afford some of the most prominent figures in your niche that have millions of followers, you can still find smaller influencers that have anywhere from a few thousand to as much as a hundred thousand followers.
These smaller influencers will be much easier to reach an agreement with, and while they may not have as big of an audience, these social media figures usually have a more focused and engaged following that is much more likely to actively respond to the right message.
To make setting up a way to compensate the influencer easier and eliminate the need for an upfront payment, you could use affiliate marketing software to create your own affiliate program and automatically compensate influencers by giving them a percentage of the sales that they are able to generate.