All about entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship, ideas, innovation, and small business. Young Upstarts is an exciting opportunity that supports young people aged 16-24 to set up their own small businesses. We dare young people to believe they can be successful entrepreneurs. We encourage them to turn their thoughts into a working business idea.
He got an early start as an entrepreneur at the age of 12 when he used to live near a golf course and would gather up lost golf balls from the players in the trees, ponds and lakes. Pat would then clean up the golf balls and set up a stand in the parking lot and sell the golf balls back to the original owners! Cleaned up of course. Pat continued throughout high school with all types of self-made business hustles always figuring out how to provide people with services that they were looking for.
By his sophomore year in college, Patrick Mackaronis had become a full blown young businessman, as he attended school he created live-event promotions and marketing business targeting students over a dozen of the areas universities. Pat would book locations for the college students to visit, and set up live entertainment with musicians, DJ’s, bands and other acts. The business began to grow, as did his database of college students, their emails, cell phone numbers, and social media handles. Pat grew the business so successfully that by his senior year, he had moved the operations from his dorm room to an off-campus office, had a staff of 17 full- and part-time employees and over 100 business accounts.
Mackaronis did earn his Bachelors Degree in Marketing and Public Relations during his time at Monmouth University. Before graduating, he had signed a lease to a retail space not far from the college campus, creating a restaurant that would cater to the college students with deliveries as well as the local beach community. This soon became Pat’s home base and location of his marketing office behind the restaurant, but as the business grew he soon was on to the next big thing – Event Productions, but this time much bigger, with bigger artists and bigger partners like Live Nation and AEG, where they were now financing the shows and acts and targeting audiences of over 5,000 customers per event. As the years went on, Pat Mackaronis continued to grow his network and partners in a second restaurant as well as a nightclub, he also invested in several small businesses and worked with teams to grow their projections.
Mackaronis, who also has worked on the other side of the fence as an investor/trader, sees it all in simple terms: “I guess you could say that I like a challenge” he says.
And his biggest project to date just might be Brabble, a Disruptive Technology Company that combines social media and eCommerce with valuable patented technology that drives revenue for customers. Brabble also can be used as a standalone technology to drive revenue for large ecommerce retailers via their patented technology called Star Tags.
He founded Brabble in 2013, working the contacts he’s developed over the years to do much better than a shoestring operation – raising millions through his network of private investors and investment bankers.
“You need to have a vision,” he advises others similarly on the entrepreneurial path. “More than that, you must have no fear, and a strong team. A great idea can only get you so far, without the right support team with access to much needed resources like money and partnerships the struggle can be hard to overcome.”
Patrick Mackaronis recently sat down with Young Upstarts to share his insights and thinking about entrepreneurial success.
Is there one particular aspect of starting up a new business that you think young entrepreneurs tend to neglect?
Patrick Mackaronis: Over the past 4 or 5 years, thanks to the media and TV shows like Shark Tank, everyone today thinks they have what it takes to be an entrepreneur. And while I absolutely encourage that way of thinking for everyone, my strongest advice is to make certain you don’t just have an idea, but that you have a well-executed and thought-out plan to success. How do you start the business, how much investment of money will it take to get the project off the ground, who will support it, how will you grow it, how will your investors make money? All parts of what is vital in a business plan.
Isn’t the entrepreneur who doesn’t have a business plan hampered in terms of accessing necessary funding to grow the business?
Patrick Mackaronis: Yes, depending on the kind of funding you’re looking for. You really need to know inside and out how much money you’re looking to raise. You need a strong CFO or some sort of financial advisor working with you right out of the gate, and always make certain that you start your business with the advisement of strong legal counsel and a securities attorney if you ever want to raise even one dollar. There are many laws and regulations and you need to make sure you follow everything to a T. You need to get your business plan together, learn your pitch, what makes you valuable and start the process. Raising money that is necessary could take years if you don’t do it strategically and the right way. Time is more valuable than money sometimes, so make sure you really plan this out before you begin.
Since we’re talking about raising money, what route do you think startups should take in getting off the ground?
Patrick Mackaronis: Well, each business is different, so it’s really not possible to say one option over another. Again, you need to have a strong network, and if you don’t, you need to bring people on the team who have access to money. Give these people equity to get them on board early on when cash is low. You need to know your first dozen options to go to for investment because not everybody says yes, as a matter of fact most people say no. You need to find the right investors to get the ball rolling, then you can start really looking at the bigger targets like family offices or strategic investors.
You also talk about “family and friends” funding. Have you gone this route, and what words to the wise do you offer up about this?
Patrick Mackaronis: Everyone has different terminology for certain things when it comes to investors. Friends and family basically just means people that you know, or people that are introduced to you individually and usually invest early on at smaller denominations like $10,000, $25,000, $50,000 investments. Some people like to use the word angel investors, but at the end of the day you can call these people anything they want to be called, its takes timing, communication, persistence and a good product and vision to raise money. If you want it bad enough you will get it done, just never give up.
by Rebecca Stidham, Senior Manager – Tax Services at OUM & Co. LLP
In today’s business environment where innovation and technology converge and the modern day entrepreneur has more support and incentive than ever to begin their dream startup company, more often than not discussions about state and local business taxes have a similar tone:
“The company is losing money; we don’t owe any taxes.”
“The sale of software isn’t subject to sales tax.”
“Our product is delivered electronically; sales tax doesn’t apply to us.”
“We only have work-from-home employees outside of our home state; we aren’t subject to tax in other states.”
These assumptions can create financially material pitfalls for companies with a false sense of security in the current business environment wherein remote workforces, professional employer organizations (PEO), and technology are being increasingly implemented and relied on to operate a business across the country and abroad. Oftentimes the state and local tax implications of these flexible and modern business decisions are overlooked and minimalized in light of the ever-changing laws and guidance passed and issued by the state tax authorities that try to ensure that companies “doing business” in their jurisdiction, even via service-based technologies, are contributing to the state coffers via taxation. These tax liabilities, which many companies believe don’t exist, can turn into a heavy burden in the event that a company seeks investors, financing, IPO or sale.
Federal constitutional provisions that impact the states’ ability to subject an out-of-state company to income tax or to impose a sales and/or use tax collection responsibility on a company do exist. The power of a state to do either is limited mainly by the “Due Process Clause” and the “Commerce Clause” of the United States Constitution. These federal provisions direct that in order for a state to constitutionally impose tax on an out-of-state business, there must be a minimal connection, or nexus, between the state and the company it is seeking to tax. If a company does not have nexus in a state, it would be unconstitutional for the state to impose any type of tax (e.g., an income tax or a sales tax collection responsibility) on that company.
Startup companies have to pay close attention to state income and sales tax nexus created by two prevalent factors: The remote workforces that potentially give a company physical presence in a state even if those employees are hired through a PEO; and economic presence standards. Additionally, changing legislation with regard to remote sellers (e.g., internet-based businesses with interstate sales) is becoming increasingly popular by states and increasingly burdensome for taxpayers.
A company’s physical presence can be measured by employees or contractors working or traveling into a jurisdiction on behalf of the company for more than a de minimis amount of days (e.g., more than two days). Additionally, the location of a company’s tangible property or rented real or personal property are also considered a physical presence that can create nexus. However, while people, property, plant and equipment used to be the main focus of a nexus determination for both income and sales tax, physical presence is no longer the only concern a company must consider when engaging in out-of-state business.
Starting in the ’90s with the Geoffrey and MBNA decisions, states have increasingly enacted economic or factor-based nexus provisions that allow a jurisdiction to impose an income tax on any company purposefully engaging in economic benefit within a state, without regard to physical presence. For example, the state of California asserts that a company with gross receipts within the state of $561,951 or more for tax year 2017 may be subject to income tax based on economic presence.
More recently, states have begun to enact similar laws with regard to the imposition of sales and use tax, although arguably this is unconstitutional as held in Quill v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298 (1992), which requires “substantial nexus” in the form of property or people to impose sales tax on out-of-state sellers. Alabama, South Dakota, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Vermont and Wyoming have all adopted economic nexus rules effective during 2017 or prior with regard to sales and use tax. Currently, the United States Supreme Court has heard arguments in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. and the Court’s decision is pending as to whether or not it will agree with the State of South Dakota and revoke the decision under Quill v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298 (1992) which may allow states to constitutionally tax out-of-state sellers with no physical presence within a state.
While companies may focus on both income tax and sales tax, it is also important for startup companies to also consider other non-income-based taxes and the effect that those taxes could have on a company’s cash flow, including franchise and net worth taxes, minimum taxes, property taxes and gross receipts taxes, which can all result in a cash tax for a company with operating losses.
Rebecca Stidham is Senior Manager – Tax Services at OUM & Co. LLP and has significant experience with the requirements of jurisdictions in all 50 states applicable to state and local tax liabilities. She has more than eleven years of corporate and pass-through tax compliance experience as a state and local tax practitioner in public accounting, with an emphasis on direct and indirect compliance for companies operating in the technology, SaaS, rental real estate, professional services and venture capital industries.
When it comes to the business world, the advance of technology has seen many changes over recent times. Nowhere is this more evident than the online nature of business today. This digitally driven environment is also applicable to you on a personal level as a young business professional. Many employers and customers will interact with or review your online presence before deciding on whether to hire you, for instance. This shows just why you should make getting your online profile right a key concern.
The online channels that exist in social media present a fabulous chance to further your career, grow your business, and network on a truly global scale. Even 20 years ago, this was not the case. To be successful in this, however, creating a positive impression is vital. If you can do this, you will engage and connect with more people in a way that will provide great benefits.
From bagging that next step up the career ladder to networking for success in your chosen industry, a positive online impression can help immensely. Of course, it does require a little hard work, but in essence it is not that difficult. With a little forward thinking and the right approach, it is something that all young business professionals or entrepreneurs can do.
Six fantastic ways to build a positive online profile.
If you are ready to construct your positive online profile to help in your career, then these tips should help:
Fully complete all your accounts – when it comes to social media channels, there are lots from which to choose. One great tip is to pick the most appropriate of the major ones, such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, to focus on. Once your accounts are created, take the time to fill in as much information as you can as this will help people get a more positive impression of you online. It will also give any potential employers or customers the chance to connect with you and feel more confident in hiring you.
Don’t over-post – how many times a week to post new content on your chosen social media channels has long been debated. It is generally thought now that three or four times per week is the right amount. This will keep your followers engaged and your accounts active without annoying anyone with too much information! Naturally, this will lead to the positive online profile for which you are aiming.
Show your personality – in the modern business age, everyone has an online profile. This means that you need to make yours stand out in the best way possible to get noticed. Showcasing your unique personality and interests is a great way to do this. Think of business professional Stan Gershengoren, who uses his Stan Gershengoren Flickr account to present his interest in photography.
Make your content interesting – to really create the right kind of online impression, you need to make sure that your content is engaging. If it is not, then you may come across as dull or with little creative spark. Always try to create content that has a point or is unique in some way, even just for the way that it uses images, for example.
Be careful what you post – when trying to build a positive online profile, posting controversial or inflammatory content is a mistake. If you have things of this nature that you wish to express, then create a separate, personal account to use instead. When building an online profile as a young entrepreneur, mistakes in this area can hold you back for many years.
Join some groups – creating an online presence is all about meeting new people. Once you have done this, the positive image that you have built can work its magic. A superb way to engage with people on most social media channels is with groups. Most will have various groups that you can join that are sector specific, from engineering to copywriting. These groups are a great way to help raise your profile awareness and also spread your popularity.
Get it right when saying hello to the world.
Today’s digital business age presents superb opportunities for you as a young business professional to interact with the world. This could be connecting with potential employers to find that dream job or interacting with potential customers to grow your business. Of course, this will only be successful if you can create a positive impression online that makes people want to engage with you. Hopefully, the above tips will help you on the road to success in this key area.
Maybe you know all there is to know about blockchain technology.
Maybe you know nothing.
Either way, in the near future blockchain could change how you do business in numerous ways, from energy use to booking a hotel.
Right now, if people think about blockchain at all they probably only think of its connection to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and DigiByte. But the blockchain technology is really what people should be excited about.
Blockchain was introduced in 2009 to serve as a database that could track and keep secure large volumes of transactions in the cryptocurrency world. Once data is recorded, it can’t be changed without the approval of most network participants.
This process supposedly creates a fraud-proof system and essentially authenticates the information that’s exchanged.
That’s why it has potential to be used in numerous ways, she says, such as:
Government services and economic development.
Any communities wondering how they can take advantage of blockchain in a big way could look to Zug, Switzerland, for advice. The city of 30,000 has become a leader in accepting cryptocurrency and encouraging blockchain startups to call Zug home. Two years ago, Zug became the first place in the world to accept cryptocurrencies for some public services, and residents can get blockchain-based digital identities.
Solar energy and blockchain aren’t the strange bedfellows you might imagine. Look at Brooklyn, NY, where a project called Brooklyn Microgrid created a peer-to-peer energy-trading system that is built on blockchain. Essentially, neighbors purchase power generated by their neighbors’ solar panels, allowing them to bypass utilities companies. Blockchain technology validates and records the transactions.
The tourism industry could be disrupted in a number of ways as blockchain begins to allow travelers to take greater control over all their travel planning. As an example, Dubai, which seeks to become an entirely blockchain city, is making moves to become a leader in blockchain tourism. Dubai Tourism recently announced a blockchain-enabled marketplace to connect potential customers directly to hotels and tourism operators.
Banks and financial institutions could become superfluous as more people begin to use blockchain technology to send digital assets securely. From the customer’s standpoint, that could mean an end to excessive interest rates and middleman fees as people make transactions directly. People might not need banks for such things as making loans or providing credit.
Business owners don’t need to worry about incorporating blockchain platforms right away. But they do need to be aware of what’s happening out there so they are prepared for how technology could change their businesses in the future.
Andi Simon, author of “On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights“, is a corporate anthropologist and award-winning author. She is the founder and CEO of Simon Associates Management Consultants, designed over a decade ago to help companies use the tools of anthropology to better adapt to changing times. Simon also is a public speaker and an Innovation Games facilitator and trainer.
Cloud storage services have become more popular than ever. This is because the level of data has increased over the years and so the hackers and other security threats. In order to keep your data secure, you have few options. The best alternative is to get a cloud storage service and keep all of your data in the cloud. However, there are a lot of benefits and some problems when it comes to these services.
In this article, we are going to show you some of the best cloud storage solutions for small businesses. We are going to show you all the benefits and tell you which their problems are. In order to help you pick the right cloud storage solution for your business, we selected some of the best services.
Keep reading to find out more about these services.
This is a great service both for individuals and small business. However, if you have a big business, this might not be the right option for you. When it comes to the main features, this service offers back up, storage, and restoration. Also, this great service comes with a lot of extra features. Some of the best additional features of this service include hybrid backup, iDrive Express, IDrive Smart Docs, and True archiving. Check out this iDrive Cloud Storage Service review to see all of its features and the prices of their paid plans.
If you want to test this service you can select their free plan which includes 5GB of free storage space and it comes with all of its features. However, if you like this service and need more space for all the data of your small business, you can choose one of their paid plans. They offer 2 paid plans for business which come with prices from $75/ year. You benefit from all of their features which can be used by an unlimited number of users from unlimited devices.
The good old Dropbox is another great choice for small business. This is also a good option for bigger businesses. Dropbox is simple to use and it comes with a lot of features. With this service you can store, sync, and share all of your important data without any problems. Also, you can review and edit the data and it will be synchronized automatically.
When it comes to their plans, you receive 2 GB for free if you want to test the service. Also, if you like the service, you can choose one of their paid plans. Dropbox has 2 plans for individuals and 3 for business. For a small business, the best plan is the Business Standard which costs $10/user/month. You can also choose their Advanced plan which comes with unlimited storage space and it costs $15/user/month.
Last, but not least, OneDrive is a great service for small businesses. One of the best things about this cloud storage option is the integration. OneDrive is already installed on your PC if you are using Windows 8 or 10. Some of its main features include backup, storage, and file sharing. When it comes to additional features OneDrive excels because it offers a wide range of features including 24/7 technical support and file editing.
This service comes with 4 plans. This first one is free and it offers you 5GB of storage space. Despite the fact that it is free, you benefit from all of their main and additional features. However, if you need more space for your files, you can choose one of their paid plans. The best one for small businesses is the Office 365 which costs $99.99/year and it offers 5TB of space, 1TB per user.
However, this is not a good option for businesses which have more than 5 employees. OneDrive doesn’t have paid plans that allow more than 5 users. Despite this fact, for individual use and small businesses this service is a great alternative.
These are three of the best cloud storage options for your small business. When choosing one cloud storage service make sure to check all of their features. Also, make a budget and see which one of these options suits you best. Also, after you selected a service make sure to check an in-depth review of the service and see all of its pros and cons. Remember that a cloud storage solution is the best choice when it comes to keeping your data secure.
Trade show exhibit rentals are a convenient and flexible way to boost your business while also costing you a lot less in the long run. If you want to know some valuable reasons why this makes perfect sense for your business, we have highlighted some key pointers for you.
The Level of Flexibility and Experimentation.
Experimentation is always a good approach when it comes to size and design, and it helps gauge the business side of things before you want to invest in a permanent booth. As a result, renting is a great option. It gives you the opportunity to try out a variety of sizes and layouts to discover what best fits your needs, your brand, and your business. Renting will also allow you to experience the reality of setting up and tearing down that display.
The logistics alone may inspire you to go in a different direction when the time comes to create your permanent trade show display. How your booth will aesthetically look is paramount because it will give thousands of viewers that first impression. Among all the trade show tips, this is extremely critical. You must also know that tearing down that booth will consume a lot of time, but renting one will be extremely flexible and hassle-free.
Saving Space Will Become a Common Occurrence for You.
If you own your trade show exhibit, you will obviously be putting it somewhere when you are not actually exhibiting. This will mean that you need storage space and, if you don’t have it, you need to pay storage fees elsewhere. As for rental displays, they are packed up and returned to the design center, meaning that storage is going to be their problem, not yours so you can rest easy.
Amazing Cost-saving Initiative.
Renting a display is also a terrific way to save money, particularly if you only attend a few shows each year. Rentals are also a good option if you’re new to the trade show world and are not sure exactly how to go about this. Additionally, you might be trying to determine the best type of booth for your company and want to check out and experiment with a few options to see which one suits your needs the most.
Buying an exhibit is not going to be the best option, especially if your budget does not fit into it. Once you start to generate profits, then you can decide to go for your own exhibit. In this way, you will also have plenty of experience under your belt and you will be able to negotiate wisely if you end up buying your exhibit later on in life.
Versatility Is Also Key.
Display rentals are quite versatile, to be honest, and come in a variety of options. This will range from pop-up and fabric displays to modular displays, allowing you to completely change the look of your rentals in a few steps. If you are an expert when it comes to the installation of these booths, then you will end up saving a lot of money in return. Also, you should be informed that renting a display allows you to change styles from show to show, which is very convenient, as people will not be forced to look at the same time over and over again.
Can business save the earth? For many observers, the question is preposterous. Climate change and our broader sustainability challenge pose a critical threat to our ability to flourish on this planet. The private sector, with its voracious appetite for resources and development, is who is responsible for much of the predicament we face, so this line of thinking goes. The problems facing the natural environment stem directly from business interests running roughshod over the public good.
However, engage the business community we must. Individual companies are some of the largest and most influential institutions in the world. Love them or hate them, business and markets are catalysts for innovation and change. Our environmental challenge is the wickedest kind of problem imaginable. Complex, interconnected and requiring a systemic solution, the kind that is the hardest to build and sustain. Addressing our sustainability challenge requires substantial innovation across a wide number of industrial sectors that promises to disrupt existing technologies and business models.
The extent to which businesses will innovate disruptive, sustainable technologies is determined by a complex interplay between markets and various institutional actors: innovators who champion new sustainable technologies, investors who see market opportunities in these sustainable technologies, executives who steer large organizations towards profitable and sustainable opportunities, customers who are willing to pay for these sustainable technologies, activists who pressure businesses to invest in green innovation, and governments who incentivize new sustainable technologies through regulation, taxes, and other policy levers.
Each of these players influence the degree to which businesses invest in and develop sustainable technologies. To meet our sustainability challenge will require active leadership by business as well as the deep involvement of others – scientists, inventors, investors, customers, policy makers, activists. among others– who impact the ability of our system of innovation to thrive.
Our new book,“Can Business Save the Earth?: Innovating Our Way to Sustainability“, is about how we may catalyze innovation through the actions of this broad set of stakeholders to address our sustainability challenge. Referencing case histories, empirical analyses, and the academic literature, we provide a model for systemic change and discuss the opportunities and limits to various approaches to catalyzing our innovation system.
There is ultimately no silver bullet. Only through the concerted effort of a collection of diverse and concerned stakeholders can we begin to move the innovation system to generate the sustainability technologies that we require. Everyone has a role to play.
Michael Lenox is co-author of “Can Business Save the Earth?” and Tayloe Murphy Professor of Business Administration and Senior Associate Dean and Chief Strategy Officer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. His work has been cited by the New York Times, the Financial Times, and the Economist. In 2009, he was recognized as a Faculty Pioneer by the Aspen Institute and as the top strategy professor under 40 by the Strategic Management Society. In 2011, he was named one of the top 40 business professors under 40 by Poets & Quants.
Aaron Chatterji is co-author of “Can Business Save the Earth?” and Associate Professor of Business and Public Policy at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. His research has been cited by the New York Times, CNN, the Wall Street Journal, and the Economist. He has authored several op-ed pieces, including in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and has been profiled in the Financial Times and Fortune.
Most startups do not fail because they had a bad idea that could not find a market, but rather because the founders and startup teams got overwhelmed or were missing key ingredients to success.
Finances are a huge part of startup success or failure, but while a lack of funds is a significant problem, it’s usually not the biggest problem. Often, there’s a disconnect between the decision-makers and what might be thought of as the dry, boring realities of successful management.
Many founders or startup teams gravitate toward sales or design. They’re people who like to build things, or they’re people who like to connect with others, but they’re rarely people who like to fill in spreadsheets and review reports and come up with predictive data models that tell them how long they can keep operating on their current revenue.
Often, founders have an entrepreneurial mindset. They like starting things, trying new things, trial and error, and continuous change. However, running a successful company involves a lot of due diligence, some core leadership, management and even accounting knowledge, and the ability to delegate, entrust others with your weaknesses, and empower them to help you with critical elements such as tying decision-making to profitability, and not just gut reactions.
One of the reasons why startups often don’t make a profit is that the leadership is either unaware of their own strengths and weaknesses, or is unwilling to relinquish information or power to let others with necessary strengths come in and help in areas in which they are weak. This usually comes about when founders don’t work with qualified, experienced finance professionals and/or refuse to take a close look at finances, including progress to date and projections, on a regular enough basis.
There are a lot of costs associated with getting a new business up and running, and it’s to be expected that a new business might take some time to turn a profit, but it’s common for founders to progress with optimism and expect fortunes to turn without having a clear plan and timeline for exactly how and when they will be turning a profit. This can get them in trouble with their team, their creditors, their investors, and possibly even their customers if a sudden lack of finances starts impacting the ability to provide goods and services to the expected level of quality.
Sometimes, it’s the lack of a proper business plan that really hurts the startup. If the business was launched off of a vision, product idea or loose handshake agreements, but there was no due diligence in building a thorough business case, then the unknowns can sweep in and cripple forward momentum. If you’re launching a new venture, you need to investigate the market and understand both your customers and your competition. You need to work out your costs at an incredibly detailed level, with not only an expense line for every supply, overhead cost, employee hour and delivery expense, but also a contingency for if any of those items change. Detailed budgeting and risk management are not skills that most founders possess or even appreciate.
Guarding their own interests and being vigilant when it comes to finances is another area in which many startups stumble. There are more things to do in a day than there’s time for, and perpetually fewer staff than are needed, and things slip through the cracks. When founders find finances and detailed recordkeeping dreary, they can miss opportunities or have unpleasant surprises as a result of simply being distracted or not investigating potential areas of concern thoroughly enough. This can happen on every level from the miniscule to the massive, but it’s especially common when it comes to small, fine-print-type items. For instance, many companies were improperly charged PPI on their accounts and now have the opportunity to claim those charges back from the banks, but how many are aware of this saving? The Santander PPI claim alone affected numerous companies, and there is help available to reclaim these lost funds.
Of course, simply being under-resourced is another problem for many startups. This can happen because there’s not a skilled salesperson on the team, or because a startup is in a geographic location that has few local investors, or because the founder underestimated the funds needed and wasn’t tracking expenditures frequently enough or in enough detail.
Startups often don’t make a profit because of routine financial management. Strong product development skills and good relationship management are necessary, but if a startup has insufficient support from finance professionals, it is likely to miss out on opportunities, overspend, under-earn and ultimately fail no matter how great its idea or product was.
Managing a startup is kind of like riding a roller coaster. Sure, it might start slow, but once you get over that first hill and start picking up speed, it can seem like you’re speeding out of control!
Of course, managing a startup and riding a roller coaster are two different things. There’s a lot more at stake than losing your pocket change, after all. Believe it or not, though, there are ways to manage a fast-growing startup.
Here are five great strategies for putting on the brakes — or at least making sure you’re strapped in.
1. Delegate When You Can, but Do So Responsibly.
If you’re at the helm of a startup, it’s only natural to feel like you’re the one who makes all the decisions. For the most part, this is probably accurate; in the early days, when it’s just you and a handful of colleagues, you can spend time on every business decision there is to make.
Yet when your startup picks up speed and starts really growing, you’re not going to be able to have oversight of every little business decision. There will simply be too many things you have to do in a given day to be bogged down by minutiae. This means you’ll have to delegate some of that decision-making responsibility, but be careful: you need to pick managers that you know to have good, sound judgment. That way, you can trust their decisions and not lose any sleep over it.
2. Keep Your Customers in Mind.
Whether you’re B2B or B2C, your customers are your lifeblood. You owe all that growth you’re experiencing to their adoption of your products, so make sure you don’t forget the contribution they’re making to your bottom line. In other words, keep them in mind while you continue to innovate new products and iterate on old ones.
A wise approach is to institute a formal method for interacting with your customer base. Online forums, communities and social medias are usually the most common methods, but companies can also rely on a wide range of tools meant to enable a better communications with customers. Welcome feedback and criticism, and make sure there are avenues in place in the form of adequate customer support functionalities. The customer might not always be right, but they likely have insights that you might not have even thought of.
3. Use a Project Management System.
If you’re facing rampant growth, you’re going to need high levels of organization in order to combat bloat. The best method for accomplishing this is to use a project management system to keep lines of communication open between your burgeoning teams.
Monday.com has developed a management software that is ideal for startups in that regard. It’s got a proven track record in helping manage fast-growing businesses, as it’s helped website creation company Wix grow from a startup of 20 workers to a massive 1,000-employee business. Digital service marketplace Fiverr also leveraged Monday’s management software to provide heightened transparency even as it grew from a company that took up just a single floor in an office building to all six floors.
4. Manage Your Costs Closely.
It’s enticing, almost intoxicating, to experience explosive startup growth. Watching demand spike along with your revenues can lead to major temptations to expand your startup, but don’t jump just yet. Remember, after all, that rampant growth isn’t necessarily sustainable growth.
Think long and hard before you hire a dozen new teams and move to that luxury co-working space across town. A sudden boom might mean your startup is firing on all cylinders today, but if the winds of fortune start blowing the other way you could be laying off all those new team members you just hired before you know it. Managing your costs closely today could save you some serious headaches in the future, that’s why every business, regardless of their size, should rely on a budgeting tool. QuickBooks, for example, is a popular accounting and budgeting tool for businesses. It provides many features from expense tracking to invoicing, so that companies can get a complete overview of their budgets and forecasts.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Advice.
Success doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Even if this is your 10th successful startup in a row, you shouldn’t just go blindly into the night. Rely on expert advice from qualified mentors in your field or industry to make sure you’re getting the best information you can.
Behind every great titan of industry, there’s a formidable mentor standing beside them. Warren Buffet wouldn’t be where he is today without the mentorship of Benjamin Graham. Mark Zuckerberg, meanwhile, heavily benefited from Steve Jobs’ mentorship as well. If you’re looking for your own mentor, a good place to start online is the free-to-use micromentor.com, as it specializes in matching business mentors with those in need of advice.
The Bottom Line.
There are countless effective ways to ensure your startup continues to grow, but these five strategies are some of the most effective ones for managing a fast-growing startup. You will, of course, need to continue to innovate and strive to remain agile and responsive to market conditions and consumer demands alike for continued success. However, these strategies are an excellent place to begin for any startup — including yours.
Shachar Shamir is COO of Ranky, a marketing company based in Tel Aviv. As Ranky’s COO, Shachar helps startups around the world with their marketing and online growth needs. So far, he has helped more than 200 startups with hands-on solutions. Other than that, he offers startups consulting and mentoring solutions, on how to increment their presence online and gain more clients. As Ranky’s founder, he’s involved in all the company’s main activities – business development, sales, marketing, recruiting, office administration, company goals, payments.
Small businesses everywhere tend to look at their larger competitors with a mixture of casual envy, grudging respect, and a healthy dose of dismissiveness. To many small business owners, the big business model embodies everything that they don’t want their own company to become. They value the focus, agility, and spirit that they’ve nurtured within their smaller organization, and believe that there’s nothing for them to learn from their larger counterparts.
The fact is, though, every big business started off as a small business. That means that the ways that larger companies do business are often rooted in the lessons that they learned along the path of growth. Smart small business owners would do well to recognize that basic truth. If they do, they’ll be open to learning some pretty valuable lessons that will give their own company critical advantages in their market. Some of these lessons are obvious, but some are not.
Here are a few important lessons that big businesses can teach small businesses.
Never Stop Listening.
Small business owners usually pride themselves on the deep individual relationships they cultivate with customers. They’re also apt to believe that growing into a big business will mean losing touch with that important way of doing business. On the contrary, managers of successful big businesses will tell you that keeping in touch with customers was essential to their growth, and provides all of the necessary guidance for their business decisions. Creating customer feedback opportunities through surveys and other outreach programs creates a valuable stream of business intelligence that can help any small business thrive.
One thing that small business owners have difficulty understanding is the reason that their larger counterparts have such complex internal processes. From the outside, these labyrinthian procedures appear to be nothing more than frustrating red tape. In reality, they’ve usually grown from experience. One area of all big businesses where this is especially true is in finance. Big businesses know that financial errors could destroy them if they are ever subjected to an external audit. The same is true for small businesses, so the key takeaway is to leave the task of small business bookkeeping to a professional service that will leave no stone unturned.
Most small businesses believe that big businesses are risk-averse. Actually, some of the most successful big businesses got to where they are through failure. That doesn’t mean trying every idea that comes along, but it does mean that success only comes with the willingness to try but fail. Some of the biggest brands in the world have made encouraging experimentation the cornerstone of their innovation policies. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos explains the merits of this idea by saying that “Experiments are by their very nature prone to failure. But a few big successes compensate for dozens and dozens of things that didn’t work.” For small businesses, failure to innovate usually leads to failure in their chosen market, so the value of this big business lesson could not be more important.
Delegate to Innovate.
One of the biggest problems that small businesses tend to run into when growing is that the founder is used to being involved in everything. At the outset, that’s a positive. Having a unified voice guiding all business activities keeps everything moving in the same direction, which is critical at early stages of a business. As the organization grows, responsibility must be delegated to others, and that means that the owner must learn to let go. In a big organization, the delegation of responsibility is natural and expected. No big company could operate successfully without establishing a hierarchy and working within it, and the sooner a small business takes steps to develop a similar structure, the better off they will be.
The Path To Success.
By now, it should be clear that big businesses have plenty of lessons that they could teach their small business brethren. After all, they didn’t get where they are by accident. Smart small business owners should always remain open to such lessons, as it will save them plenty of pain as their companies grow. If they do so successfully, there’s a good chance that they will soon become the one that others look to for advice, and they’ll be wondering why they didn’t listen sooner.
Lewis Robinson is a business consultant specializing in social media marketing, CRM, and sales. He’s begun multiple corporations and currently freelances as a writer and business consultant.
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