With the rise of accelerators and incubators, the increase of outside investor options and the constant coverage of funding news, the prestige of seed capital has many entrepreneurs focused on wooing investors rather than developing their business plan and strategy. Making the mistake of allocating a great deal of time and energy towards chasing down venture capital and accommodating the needs and desires of investors may ultimately detract a business from focusing on what’s actually valuable: a sustainable and desired product. (Keep in mind, resources are just a small portion of what it takes to launch a successful business.)
Regardless of whether you’ve scored venture capital seed funding or are bootstrapping your business, other factors will make or break your entrepreneurial success.
1.Hire a strong team. As the old adage goes, “you are only as good as the company you keep”
Hiring can be one of the most challenging aspects of starting any small business. A strong company culture, comprised of intelligent, hardworking and cooperative individuals can lead to breakthrough ideas and top-notch service. Yet, it’s difficult to source candidates who are extremely dedicated, committed to their work and enjoyable to be around for long, sometimes stressful, work days.
Related: How to Bootstrap Your Business
When looking to bring on new hires what matters is not so much educational background, but rather the talents, skills and personality that can be utilized to help scale a business. Applicants with experience in tech, digital marketing, sales and growth strategies are very attractive to a startup. An HR manager typically isn’t around early in the game and hiring can be a time consuming and costly undertaking. Sites such as HireVue, Spark Hire and Take The Interview have developed video interviewing platforms to expedite this process.
2. Delegate appropriately. Managing a startup can be overwhelming, especially when there are a million and one tasks to do and they all need to be done yesterday. Carefully plan out your goals on a short-term and long-term basis by delegating responsibility and utilizing a task-by-task approach. Provide action plans for each employee and a timeline for completion. This method not only keeps employees focused and motivated, but it will make your company run efficiently and smoothly. Tools such as Pivotal Tracker, Trello and PMRobot track the progress initiatives with lots of moving parts. These programs work well for software development, design and marketing projects.
3. Invest in great software. Selecting cost-effective and appropriate software solutions is critical to smooth business operations. The right software will properly maintain and monitor your services and communications. Certain computing software, such as Oracle, may be prohibitively expensive and overwhelming for your bare-boned operation. Consider out-of-the-box solutions such as Salesforce, a cloud-based CRM (customer relationship management) tool that tracks leads and contacts throughout all the stages of the sales funnel. Email marketing tools such as Mailchimp, allow you to build professional looking email campaigns at an affordable price point.
Related: Five Rules for Bootstrapping Success
4. Seek guidance. Venture-capital funding generally comes with access to the investor’s knowledge base, networks and resources. Venture capital firms and startup incubators have significant experience with optimizing a company’s operations and applying business models that have already proven to be successful in a similar space.
Luckily, there are a variety of cost-effective options available to level the playing field and gain access to industry leaders. Websites such as Elance, oDesk, Quora and Clarity.fm provide access to a large pool of highly experienced and talented professionals from all facets of business including sales and marketing, development and design and technology.
Prior to embarking on a new business initiative, scan these websites for the highest rated individuals and tap their brains for advice and new ideas. Such experts can provide valuable guidance at a reasonable price.
5. Not everything must be outsourced. Just because you’re not an expert, doesn’t mean you can’t do a great job. Too often, people feel pressured into hiring a third-party to perform a service such as logo design, content creation, sales or marketing. Yet, trusting an outsider with important element can be a waste of time and money. Don’t be scared to attempt a project by just seeking guidance and giving it the good ole beginners try. In fact, fresh eyes and a personal attachment to the product can be necessary in producing something of great value.