How to Scale a Startup: 8 Growth Tips

May 2023

How to Scale a Startup: 8 Growth Tips

How many businesses were launched last year? How many of them are still around? The truth is that 20% of startups fail in the first year and 60% won’t make it past three. 

Whether your business goal is to eventually exit, make an impact on the world, or generate enough profit to live a worry-free life, driving growth is essential but difficult. Many entrepreneurs find it an uphill battle, so if you’re struggling, you’re not alone!

So, how can you take your business to the next level and boost your chances of success?

You’ve probably already read articles on how to build a strong team, create a positive brand image, and so on. Rather than giving you generic startup advice, we want to share actionable tips and tricks that stem from real-life founder conversations. 

Here are 8 of the best tips to maximise startup growth… 

1. Don’t wait for perfection 

As Winston Churchill famously said, “perfection is the enemy of progress.”  It can be tempting to make tweaks and changes to your product or service offering until you’re “100% happy”. 

The truth, though, is that it’s your customers who will make your business successful, so waiting to launch your dream version of the business will sacrifice valuable customer feedback that helps to sculpt a high-value business.  

The best entrepreneurs make mistakes and learn from their failures — perfectionism will kill creativity and limit your success.

Talented founders and entrepreneurs waste huge amounts of time trying to get to perfection before they’ve even determined product-market fit (PMF). This is a costly mistake. 

You'll likely test and adjust your concept multiple times before you find the perfect fit for your product and customers. Be prepared to update your concept regularly and pivot in a completely new direction if necessary. 

2. Prioritise customer feedback  

We’ve all heard the phrase “time is money” and this is especially true for startup founders. So here’s some advice to skip money-wasting phases. 

Launch (an explicitly stated “beta” version if necessary) as soon as you have a minimum viable product (MVP) that delivers value to your target audience, and start testing your product with real users. Nothing is more important than customer feedback at this stage. 

Why? Because it gives you first-hand insight into your customers, their problems, and how your product or service will solve them. Customer feedback and testing are vital ingredients to help you determine your PMF. 

Here are three simple ways to collect customer feedback:

  1. Surveys: These are one of the most effective ways to collect information and there are plenty of tools online to streamline this method (try Typeform!) 
  2. In-app feedback: For an app or platform, this is a great way to gain insight into the experience a user has at different points of their user journey.
  3. Conversations: Building relationships with your customers is key to loyalty and trust. Conversations with customers are an easy, organic way to gather insights into their experience. 

TIP: Survey fatigue is a real thing that you want to avoid at all costs. Keep customers engaged by asking relevant questions, keeping surveys short, and making it as easy as possible for them to provide the answers you need.

3. Be prepared to compromise 

We’d all love to have endless resources to invest in our startup, but this is rarely the case. Instead, we spend years budgeting and trying to scale a business with limited resources. 

Whether you’re bootstrapped or working with limited funding, then you’ll need to make smart compromises.

Automation can be a fantastic way to improve operational efficiency and reduce running costs. But it requires a big upfront cost that you simply may not be able to afford early on. 

Sometimes the best solution is to get smart with your manual processes in the early stages while being careful not to create any big obstacles to automating in the future. 

4. Trust your team 100%

Every founder knows that their team has the power to make or break their business. The challenge of hiring is massively underestimated. You can’t always be sure you’ve hired the right person for the job and sometimes it’s not going to work out. 

However, you’ll cause detriment to yourself and the team if you don’t give your team the full trust they need to excel in their roles.

It can be difficult to let go of the reins when it’s you who’s been in control of every element since the start. Many business founders feel nervous about giving employees more power. 

No matter how difficult it may be to begin with, trust is a must and you need to learn to delegate if you want your team to feel empowered, your startup to thrive, and to generate long-term success.

Struggling to hand over control? Here are 5 useful tips we’ve learned:

  1. Develop a rigorous recruitment and onboarding process to make sure you hire the right people and give them everything they need to hit the ground running.
  2. Relax. Believe in the abilities of the team you hired and avoid micromanaging.
  3. Reinforce your company values to create a supportive work environment where employees feel valued.
  4. Prioritise team building and encourage positive relationships in the workplace.
  5. Give your managers more control than you’re comfortable with - you’ll be thankful for the extra time it gives you.

Suggested reading: How to build trust in the workplace: 10 effective solutions

5. Never overlook cultural fit 

Cultural fit is absolutely essential when it comes to hiring. You could hire five of the most talented people in your industry, but it’s going to be a disaster if they all work and communicate in conflicting ways. 

This is where synergy comes in. It might be a buzzword, but it’s never been more important. 

Team synergy is the idea that the whole team should be greater than its individual members. 

You can achieve team synergy by: 

  • Learning and understanding the individual strengths and talents that each employee offers.
  • Assigning roles and responsibilities that maximise strengths.
  • Building an open and supportive team culture when employees feel comfortable sharing opinions and ideas.
  • Promoting team building and celebrating team successes.

6. Power up your content marketing 

Content marketing is key in the digital era. Just look at these stats…

  • 82% of marketers are actively investing in content marketing.
  • Content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing, but generates more than three times as many leads.
  • Businesses that use content marketing have conversion rates that are nearly six times higher when compared to businesses that don’t.

There is no denying that content marketing, when done right, can help your startup scale to new heights. But simply posting content isn’t enough to engage your audience and drive results in 2023. 

If you want to succeed, you need to post relevant and highly-personalised content that will add real value to your customers. 

So how do you achieve this?  

  • Step 1: Identity what questions your target customers are asking that relate to their pain points. You can track this using customer surveys or social listening tools. 
  • Step 2: Solve these problems and turn your answers into interesting content like blog posts, infographics, and videos. 
  • Step 3: Share your content on the right platforms. This may include Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or your company blog/website.

And then Step 4…

7. Find creative ways to repurpose content

Creating quality content takes time and it’s unlikely you’ll have the resources to churn out brand-new content continuously. The solution? Repurposing content is the secret to a cost-effective, successful content marketing strategy. 

That blog you wrote last year? How about turning it into a carousel for social media? Or an infographic, or a video, or combining a few more blogs into an ebook? 

Then, extend your reach further by distributing it via all your digital channels.  

Repurposed content enables you to create a scalable content marketing machine to save time, effort and money.

PRO TIP: Focus your efforts on evergreen content that is going to be relevant and stay “fresh” for readers over a long period of time. This type of content is perfect for repurposing and will help you maximise reach and value.

8. Look for ways to trim costs and reduce cash burn 

Keeping overhead costs down is crucial when you’re trying to scale a startup. Cutting business expenses can seem difficult, but it might be easier than you think! Even simple changes can have an impact and give you more money to invest in other areas of your startup.

Here are 2 quick tips to save costs:

  1. Only pay for the services you need: Audit your SaaS tools to ensure that you’re not paying for services you’re not using or for employees who no longer work for you. This goes for office space too - don’t pay for space you don’t need.

  1. Take advantage of free and low-cost marketing channels: Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool, and referral marketing is a smart way to create momentum. Incentivise team members and loyal customers with competitions, games or low-cost rewards and encourage a ripple effect.

Final thoughts 

Growing a startup is hard. It becomes even more difficult when we’re bombarded by an overwhelming amount of techniques, tricks, hacks and best practices that often contradict each other or are hard to implement simultaneously.

There’s no guaranteed way to grow a successful business and there’s always some risk involved. See how you get on with this advice and good luck scaling your startup!

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