How to make the transition from startup to established brand
For many new entrepreneurs, getting their startup off the ground is their ‘big goal’, and the focus of all their creative energy.
But what happens after you’ve successfully done that? Many entrepreneurs forget (or simply don’t think far enough in advance) that figuring out if the market needs, and will thus support, their startup is only the first phase in their success. The next, even more important, phase is growth, and establishing themselves as a true player in their chosen market / industry / niche.
One funny thing about growth is if it’s too slow, the startup can fail, but if it’s too fast it can also be a problem. Read on to find out why.
Traction vs Growth
Lots of new customers have started coming through your doors. Great news, right? Maybe, but maybe not. For example, if your product / service isn’t completely ready, has bugs or needs to be further refined, strong growth isn’t a good thing (yet) because it will lead to big problems with unhappy customers. The last thing you want is for hundreds, or thousands, of people to have a bad experience, because it can stop your growth, and your success, dead in its tracks.
Becoming an established brand means focusing, and sometimes re-focusing, on your target market. If, after a few months in business, you realise that who you thought was your market has changed, your marketing strategies, your focus and your push into that segment will need to change as well.
Dropping Dead Weight
Another big transition factor from startup to established brand is to get rid of any products or services that aren’t successful and may be slowing you and your people down. In some cases that might even be the product or service you thought would be your top seller, which is hard for some entrepreneurs to swallow. If it is however, jettisoning that product or service might just be necessary for your overall success, as well as any people on your team that aren’t necessary or don’t pull their weight.
Lastly, a key to becoming an established brand for many startups is to "hitch their wagon", as the Yanks say, to a brand that already is established. For example, at Starbucks coffee they now process customer debit and credit card payments using Square, a partnership that has been excellent for both but incredible for Square, as it took them from virtually unknown to established player in a very short time.
In closing, while getting your startup off the ground is certainly important (and congrats when you do), planning for the growth stage that’s necessary to become established is vitally important as well, so make sure you’re prepared to do it when the time comes.
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