The difference between a small business or startup and a successful and profitable company typically boils down to time and experience. But, there are certain factors that play a big part in how those companies grew to be successful — things like timing, having the right people, focus, and intensely hard work. Remember that every big company was a startup at some point.
Even though, statistics and researchers tell you that the odds are stacked against you and the probability of failing is high, there are plenty of opportunities to succeed.
The story of how Jumia started as a startup in Nigeria, conquer the many challenges in the most populous country in the world, expanded to other African countries to the extent that it has been tagged by many as 'The Alibaba of Africa' is one that should inspire every entrepreneur. The eCommerce company has empowered, employed and contributed to the African economy since it birthed in Nigeria.
So, for entrepreneurs who are looking at scaling and taking their business to the next level, here are some of the ways to overcome these challenges.
Keep processes as simple as possible
Complexity slows businesses down and inhibits growth. It requires more meetings, more explanation, more refined communication with the customer, more people in the workflow, and more cogs in the machine. As businesses grow and scale, the key dynamic that slows progress and, at the extreme, impairs a business, is the effect of complexity. Complexity rears its head as products evolve, organisations grow, and business strategies change. Therefore, the bosses in charge of growing companies need to be aware of the impacts of growing complexity and take actions to continuously simplify the operations and strategy of the organization.
Win the love of your customers
While customer acquisition is important in any business, you need to focus on the customers you have so that you can win their love. Customer perceptions can make or break a business. If you deliver quality experiences, products, and service, and you make every effort to delight your customers, then they’ll sing your praises. When you delight your customers, and they share that delight, your business will grow. Winning the love of your customers doesn’t have to be a time-intensive operation and you don’t have to completely restructure your business model. You just need to operate in a way that anticipates their needs and stays with them beyond the point where they make that first purchase.
Stay tuned in to your business
As you grow your business, one of your goals should be hiring smart, talented people to handle various tasks. As a business owner, you can’t be involved in everything, so it’s important to delegate and let other, better-suited people handle the work. But that doesn’t mean you should step back and tune out. Just because it’s being handled, doesn’t mean you’re not involved. When you stay tuned to your business and are aware of your surroundings, you’ll better anticipate the need for change and adjustment and be able to quickly pivot and adapt when the time comes.
There are no shortcuts in scaling
As your business begins to grow, you may be tempted to make cuts and take shortcuts in order to reach your next goal faster. There’s no more surefire way to cripple your business than to cut corners and try to take the easy path to success. Every action you take now has repercussions later. When you take shortcuts, you make compromises. You compromise your ethics, your values, and the integrity of your business — often at the expense of the customer and your employees. The rule of thumb is for you to do the job.
Ask for help
Too often, entrepreneurs view asking for help as a sign of weakness. They think that asking for help means they’re somehow exposing their vulnerability. The most successful entrepreneurs didn’t become effective leaders because they were good at bossing people around or because they had all of the answers all of the time. It is ok not to have all the answers you are seeking, which is why you should reach out when necessary. This would also give a sense of direction after filtering all the important experiences and compiling the ones that are at a greater advantage to the startup.
Communicate the ‘Why’
At the point the business begins to rely on human input, it is important to communicate the reason for the startup in the first place. Communicate the problems the company is set out to solve and the ways it can be achieved. This would keep everyone in the know, and in the long run, it will emphasize the reason why everyone does what they do. Creating a sense of direction limits the chances of the business failing. Communicating the ‘why’ will also keep all the aspects of the business in sync.
Keep an open system
Though it is important to set brand distinctions, it is equally as important to keep an open system, in order not to be caught up in your own mistakes. It is alright to get a little bit from here and there without losing your company identity. This would help reduce the level of frustrating inherent in recording certain failures. Start-ups are prone to certain mistakes because most times, they are so rigid about their system and are not fully equipped with enough information to keep afloat. Be open.
Most big companies and businesses have something in common; they codify their process so enable them to have a reference point. It is ok to have assumptions; however, it is an error to test out these assumptions without documenting the failures and success. The major point of doing this is to eventually create a process that includes steps to achieving various successes based on what has been tried and tested. Disregarding this will only increase the chances of trials and error as each task and process will only be done based on unconfirmed assumptions.
Failure is a part of the success
Though it is not an opinion held by the majority, it is entirely true. Failures are inevitable on the path to success. These certain failures are what give a sense of direction towards knowing what to do and what not to do. They also help build an experience that will be useful to the growth of the business. The most important thing about having failures is not to give up and also be aware that they are necessary. Lessons should definitely be learnt with them.
It is ok to want to make a big hit in the first year of the business; however, what is more, important is the level of consistency invested in the process. Note becoming established is not a day’s job. Therefore there is no need to always be in a hurry to make it to the top. This would only increase the level of frustration especially when there are setbacks. Be consistent and along the line, the big break would come for the business.
Despite having knowledge ofthe various startup hacks, it is not too late to start working towards achieving success in the long run. Keep a positive attitude and watch your business scale higher.