Graduating Startup Growth to SME

Congratulations Ms. Entrepreneur. After years of toiling and challenging insurmountable odds, you’ve finally moved through the gates of startup hell. You’ve established product and market fit, you’re 10x better that your competition, and you’ve begun to scale customers and revenues. You’ve also assembled a talented and passionate team who is bought into your culture. Take a breath. Take a bow. Now, come to the frightening realization: If you want to build a big company, you’ve got much more work ahead.

The moves you make at the growth stage are increasingly important. Different challenges emerge and the bets become bigger, the stakes higher. Below are four keys you’ll need on the journey as you transition from startup to growth-stage mastery. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but these four are a good place to start.

Working won’t make you rich but having your own business plan will. Starting own business has become a trend of late. Many people dream of having a billion-dollar company but a few succeed in it, for having even a successful company is an achievement in itself. Starting a company is fine but making it a profitable venture is what takes a hell lot of dedication. First of all, you have to be gutsy to startup. Startup requires flexibility and must be loosely structured, for the growth and communication transfer needs to be fast.

Categorizing the problems and growth patterns of small businesses in a systematic way that is useful to entrepreneurs seems at first glance a hopeless task. Small businesses vary widely in size and capacity for growth. They are characterized by independence of action, differing organizational structures, and varied management styles.

Yet on closer scrutiny, it becomes apparent that they experience common problems arising at similar stages in their development. These points of similarity can be organized into a framework that increases our understanding of the nature, characteristics, and problems of businesses ranging from a corner dry cleaning establishment with two or three minimum-wage employees to a $20-million-a-year computer software company experiencing a 40% annual rate of growth.

For owners and managers of small businesses, such an understanding can aid in assessing current challenges; for example, the need to upgrade an existing computer system or to hire and train second-level managers to maintain planned growth.

It can help in anticipating the key requirements at various points—e.g., the inordinate time commitment for owners during the start-up period and the need for delegation and changes in their managerial roles when companies become larger and more complex.

The framework also provides a basis for evaluating the impact of present and proposed governmental regulations and policies on one’s business. A case in point is the exclusion of dividends from double taxation, which could be of great help to a profitable, mature, and stable business like a funeral home but of no help at all to a new, rapidly growing, high-technology enterprise.

Finally, the framework aids accountants and consultants in diagnosing problems and matching solutions to smaller enterprises. The problems of a 6-month-old, 20-person business are rarely addressed by advice based on a 30-year-old, 100-person manufacturing company. For the former, cash-flow planning is paramount; for the latter, strategic planning and budgeting to achieve coordination and operating control are most important.

A startup may or may not be a company. It can be few guys sitting in a room and developing an application to provide services to people. It is also not about being young or old. There is no age for a startup. A boy as young as 15 can be a budding entrepreneur or a man of 40 can think of starting up. It’s not about cash either. A person with cash in thousands can start up. Also, there is no necessity of innovation. It can be an idea that can revolutionize how things work. Take Uber, the biggest cab service company, for an example. It does not have its own cars and it was just an idea.

If India needs to succeed, startups need to be the ones aiding. With no funding of their own, the startup guys, who aim to be big entrepreneurs can take steps that revolutionize the world. But after everything is done, the company is started, there is only one thing that is in the minds of the entrepreneurs: What next? What steps do I take to become one of the top notch businessman in the country? What makes best entrepreneurs is the thing that they reach quality and scale, all at once. The one who manages to reach both of the parameters along with new policies and plans is going to succeed in the long run.

One other thing is that all startups cannot be linked directly to technology. Not all startups are about technology. Startups may be a part of the digital economy and still not include technology. What makes a difference isn’t whether or not, the startups use technology but how they use it.

To make your startup a big company, you need to give your all. These are the 4 steps that need to be followed.

  1. Find the right team – Having the right people in your executive team takes off half of the workload off your shoulders. Having the right mix of people can lift your spirits up and take you in the direction of doing your job. All the people must have different thinking levels and should be able to adjudge the pros and cons of the decision taken. Loyal, trustworthy and intelligent people are crucial for the transformation of any business. Having a good team is a great investment which will be crucial in good returns. A perfect team can be the best way to ensure higher returns.
  2. Stick to what sells best in the market – Selling way too many things in the market at the initial stages can lead to doom and no entrepreneur would want to shut his business when it has just begun. Doing too many things altogether can spoil your curry. It can lead to problems one after other. Add to operations slowly. In the initial stages, stick to what sells best. Find the good or service that sells best and proceed with it. Focus on core operations and leave the rest of the work. This is a widely acclaimed formula and works for almost everyone.
  3. Strategise and formulate a business plan – During times of growth, the startup guys need to formulate a business plan. The strategy should be such that the company should slowly make plans and penetrate slowly and deeply in new market. The business plan should be made within the dimensions of the resources and if more of them are needed, it should think about ways to raise funds to accumulate those resources. The strategy should be that the products should take the center stage and rest of it is secondary. The entrepreneurs should make the most of the opportunities as and when they come their way.
  4. Review your business plan – Composing a business plan is not where it all ends. Next comes reviewing the business plans. It is important to review the business plan timely. The entrepreneurs should look at the future goals: Where they want to see their company in 3 years’ time. Your team should understand the plans you formulate and should give their review on what they think about the business plan. If you think that the plan needs to be altered or revamped, the planning team along with the entrepreneur should go ahead. They should not hesitate in doing that.

The startup entrepreneurs should not feel comfortable at any time in the starting of the business. They should devise plans and research about the industry they are in. An entrepreneur must not be free. He/she must keep researching and thinking about new things.

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