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Most entrepreneurs are convinced they’re building the next big thing, but in reality, over 90 per cent of start-ups fail. To scale a start-up from 0 to £100 million, companies need to ensure they are creating something people want, building the right technology and executing an efficient business scaling strategy.
While a business has many measures of success, generating revenue is key for a profitable and viable company. Successful companies need to align their sales and marketing strategies to complement each other, source talent, create innovative solutions, and ultimately find a way to stand out from the competition.
1.Use Your Customers as Your Foundation
Every successful company has a loyal customer base and without one, your business will not see growth, says Tom Fairey, chief customer officer at Quantexa. “To build your business, begin by putting customers at the heart of your messaging,” he says. “Use their language to engage with them; what is it they say you provide? How do they describe your product?”
Don’t begin with a solution and look for a problem — find out what their problems are, then offer the way this can be solved. It’s not about your product or services, it’s about how you can help your customer. While this may seem obvious, it’s one of the most common mistakes entrepreneurs make.
You should also ensure that you are aware of the potential for your business idea. “Too many start-ups launch without a clear understanding of the reality of the room for opportunity. Consider the long-term and how you will build from where you are now.”
2. Leverage the Media
To grow a start-up, it’s important to build and implement a focused marketing strategy that helps to establish your credibility and drive customer interest. Fairey advises business owners to ask themselves three key questions: Who am I marketing to? What am I telling them? What do I want their response to be? “As you scale your start-up, you need to find the best and most profitable ways to target your customer base. Without effective marketing, your sales process will never grow as you require it to.”
PR is also an important element. Bill Gates once said: “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on PR.” “We found, when building Quantexa, for example, that our success propagated from the seeds of PR sown within our carefully planned strategy,” Fairey says.
Building and managing a good reputation is about two factors: what your customers are saying about you, and how the media are talking about you. Seek to control this narrative through PR. “Try to include a human element in everything you talk about, as this will make your content more engaging and allow your customers to relate to the work you do,” Fairey advises. “Remember that you are an expert in your field and your customers will appreciate your insight and the innovative solutions to problems they may have been trying to solve for years.”
3.Forget the Competition
The reason your company exists should be that your competition is failing. By continuously comparing your business to your competitors, you can end up emulating them and thereby removing the differences between you. “This isn’t a good outcome,” Fairey says. “Instead, find what makes you different, as this is your advantage. Focus on providing a new solution to an existing problem.
“Of course, this isn’t to say you should ignore what your competitors are doing. Always keep track on them and their developments, but don’t replicate them — learn from them.”
You should also be ready to respond to adjust to new developments and pivot if you need to. Just because you start out as one thing, this may not be the only purpose your business ever serves.
A great example of this is Amazon, which started out as an online bookseller and is now the largest full-line retailer in the world, Fairey points out. “Adapt when new streams of cash flow are identified, find ways to diversify your business assets and be prepared to change as they grow.”
4.Hire the Best, Not the Same
Don’t hire people from established companies just because they are in the right sector. Hire people that can build something from nothing. If there are two skills that you should value above any others, it’s those you can’t teach: attitude and intelligence. Hiring from outside your niche won’t be an issue if they’re a quick learner, they work hard, and they believe in your vision.
To stay on the growth trajectory, Fairey says you should prioritise feedback and improvement, and make sure your team do too. “When building a successful start-up, your product and your processes are going to need some tweaking. However, when making changes, make sure all feedback is constructive, and that every problem comes with a solution.”
5.Get on the Same Page
People want solutions, and that is why your sales team are the most important people for the development of your company. First, know what your customer needs, then find the right people to sell it to them, and ensure your team is 100 per cent behind your technology.
As well as this, every one of your employees should be on board with your story and your company’s journey. If there’s any doubt on the inside, this might create doubt on the outside. Make sure every member of staff understands how you are benefiting the customer and how to effectively translate your brand’s mission.
Sales and marketing strategies affect not only your revenue but also your brand reputation, employee retention and overall growth. To get from start-up to scale-up you need to aim high and have faith in the impact you can make.