Key aspects to accelerating start-up growth

So you’ve managed to start your business, now it’s time to focus on scaling it up; here are our top tips.

  

Many entrepreneurs are so completely focused on getting their start-up off the ground that they get stuck on merely sustaining the company's existence instead of trying to make it bigger and better. The focus is understandable; most start-ups don't survive to their first anniversary and many fall after that.

What isn't understandable is forgetting about the future. There's more to building a start-up than simply getting it off the ground. The journey doesn't end when you've got the foundation of a business, it's only just begun.

Use youth

Age and experience, while valuable, are not necessarily the sole determiner for success. Many companies have flourished under the watchful eye of a millennial. Just because you're young doesn't mean you'll automatically lose to more experienced competitors, and just because those applicants are fresh out of college doesn't mean they have nothing to offer the start-up.

Consider your target market. If the demographics revolve around youths, then the young are often more suited to marketing and designing the product. Even if the target market isn't that youthful, millennials are still valuable for their tendency to stay in touch with the latest trends.

Find and remember your motivations

One of the most important aspects of your life as an entrepreneur involves your motivations. If you always have them in the back of your mind, you'll find the energy to keep going on, even when things look rough. 

One of the most dangerous things you face as an entrepreneur is forgetting why you're doing this. The moment you lose sight of the reason you founded the start-up is the moment you start slowing down. Instead of a passion project, it becomes a grind. Growth becomes a secondary goal instead of a primary one, and you just want to get the day to end.

Practice the pitch

You're going to deliver a lot of presentations as an entrepreneur. You're going to give pitches, motivate your employees, and inspire partners with your presentations. Some of them are impromptu, some are planned ahead – all are practiced. Off-the-cuff speeches may work, but they won't have the same effectiveness as one that is planned and practiced.

Many investors and potential partners will rate you on the strength of your presentation, and these are the same people who'll help your start-up grow. If you can't convince them when you make your practiced pitch, you'll have trouble getting the funding and help required to grow your business. 

Endorsements come for quality products

Part of your marketing strategy may involve endorsements, which is a great idea. Endorsements allow influencers to lend their reputation to your product, which can result in increased visibility and growth. Problems begin when you do things backwards and try to get endorsements before developing a strong product.

You can pay for endorsements, but they won't have the same weight or effectiveness as one that comes naturally. Besides, you're not just targeting celebrities. The average consumer's opinion matters, possibly more so to some people and you'll only get positive reviews by giving them a positive experience. Make a great product and the endorsements will come.

Tell a story

An important part of any growth strategy involves standing out not just from the competition, but from the noise of Internet denizens. Anyone can post anything they want, which just adds to the static. A great way for entrepreneurs to make their product stand out is to tell a story. Now the consumer isn't just thinking about how the product can help them, but how the product came to be.

Stories are inherently more memorable. If you can structure the story in a reasonably logical manner, people will remember it and your product. Talk to your marketing team and make sure that the product or start-up's story is there.

If you don't have a growth strategy, you'll never make it as an entrepreneur. Getting it off the ground is important, but you must remember that your journey doesn't end there. Tell the story of your product and make it memorable. Focus on the quality of the product so endorsements come and visibility shoots up. Practice your pitch until you've got it down perfectly. Do all these things and your start-up won't just live – it'll grow.

This article was originally submitted for Accelerate SME on 25 January 2016

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