3 Tips for Founders of Growing Startups

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Launching a new enterprise takes courage, talent, and the determination to see a dream through to the end. When a founder is successful in bringing their new product or service to market, they can change the world.

Unfortunately, the founder’s journey is rife with distractions and challenges that can derail an otherwise sound concept. Protect your startup’s potential and consider these three tips as you make key choices about your business.

1. Focus on Doing the Work Only You Can Do

Startup founders often find themselves in a pinch when it comes to managing the operational side of their business. Whether you’re a technology genius or a marketing maven, you likely specialize in an area you’re passionate about. When it’s time to launch your startup, new yet necessary distractions will arise that can threaten your company’s potential.

Remove distractions by first identifying what your founder’s superpowers are. Then determine what other work must be done to achieve your goals. Frequently, these non-founder tasks revolve around financial management, taxes, and legal matters.

Hire consultants qualified to provide accounting for startups that have unique and intricate needs. Tap into contractor support for other functions like legal reviews, website creation, and even customer service.

If you’re selling tangible products, dropshipping providers can take on the bulk of the logistics work and optimize your operation. Third-party providers can result in cost savings thanks to their specialization and existing network.

These strategies help founders and their teams regain valuable time that would otherwise be lost to administrative and other non-core responsibilities. With qualified partners assisting with these tasks, you can focus on the work that you uniquely can do.

2. Structure Compensation Strategically

Hiring employees, designing equity options, and determining intellectual property ownership are complexities that’ll make a founder’s head spin. However, without a plan for these key compensation factors, future headaches and legal issues are almost a guarantee.

Work with your accountant to determine what your startup’s budget is today to set a baseline. Review your current and potential revenue and cash flow to develop a hiring plan. Together, you’ll see what type of employment structure you can afford.

Sometimes, traditional compensation isn’t an option, but you still need the expertise of others to get your startup running. In these situations, a more creative approach may be necessary. Discuss potential compensation packages with both your accountant and attorney, outlining what details need to be documented.

Envision your future success and how these agreements could play out in various situations. Equity options, payouts upon acquisition or going public, and employee exits are all possibilities to prepare for. Consider how contract employees fit into your model, carefully outlining how work completed for your company is transferred.

Discuss the details and risks of work done on personal devices versus company-owned equipment, specifying the company’s policies in employment agreements. With a plan in place, you can make smart hires from your first employee to your last. In the early days, you’ll protect your cash flow, while your legacy will be solid if and when you move toward an exit.

3. Establish Brand Principles and Stick to Them

Brand is everything, no matter your business, and if you’ve slacked on defining yours, now is the time to act. Your startup’s brand is the calling card that speaks for you when you aren’t in the room. When you think about legacy brands like Microsoft, Disney, and Kellogg’s, their logos, colors, and taglines easily materialize in your mind. This automatic response represents the magic that’s possible with a strong, well-protected brand.

Founders must mimic the storied brands by establishing brand principles before the market makes those decisions for them. Without brand rules, the market will define who you are and what you stand for — and you don’t want that. Think big as you define your brand, keeping your growth plans in mind.

Explore your brand voice, personality, and the organizational behaviors that will define your value proposition. Are you formal, casual, or daring in the way you describe your product? Perhaps what makes your startup fascinating is your unique approach to an age-old problem. If this is the case, ensure your brand is distinctly different from those operating on existing models.

Deploy your brand in ways that target the right audience at the right time and in the right places. Social media and other digital mediums can be cost-effective and provide targeting opportunities unavailable elsewhere. Use owned channels and strategic relationships to bring your brand to the market through content that highlights your expertise.

Deploy your brand strategy methodically, with as much intentionality and vigor as you do your core product. When you do, you’ll protect your brand’s value as you deliver results to your end user.

Charging Forward With a Vision That’s Worth Protecting

External pressures, lurking competitors, and even public commentary can threaten your entrepreneurial dreams. To avoid getting off track, keep your vision as your true north. Kick-off meetings internally and externally with your mission and vision, which can boost colleague and client confidence and reinforce your brand.

Like repeating a mantra, daily vision reinforcement motivates your team to achieve your shared goals. External reinforcement solidifies your brand share, protecting what you’ve built from market confusion. Protect your brand, reinforce your vision, and equip your teams with support to charge forward and achieve your goals.