2020 brought about an unprecedented situation with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. People across the globe are feeling the effects of the situation, particularly the financial constraints involved. It’s been particularly tough going for start-ups, with Covid-19 bringing many challenges to their founders to deal with.
Someone who knows all about the challenges faced by these start-ups is Romanie Thomas, the Founder and CEO of Juggle, an online platform that connects start-ups with senior professionals. Here, Romaine offers 10 things that she thinks start-ups should know based on her own personal experience.
Romanie Thomas, Founder and CEO of Juggle
1. Talk and listen to your customers
Feedback is critical to develop and grow your business. Find ways of allowing your customers to send you ideas, feedback, and complaints. It is the only true way of understanding what your company looks like from their perspective. But do not leave it there, act on it, quickly and demonstrate that. People will come back even if the experience was terrible if they see they were listened to and change happened because of it.
2. Don’t block your time out
The best founders are the ones with free time in their calendars. I remember thinking that those with jammed schedules, back-to-back meetings, and who worked all the hours of the day must be the most successful but is so far from true. Having time to think, restock, and be a person as well as a founder has more value than anything else. The old saying is true, even the richest person alive cannot buy time, so use it well and make sure you keep some of it for yourself.
3. Define what personal success looks like
We can spend a great deal of time planning out and defining success for our businesses, but defining personal success is even more important. Entrepreneurs are often those who have a clear sense of self, they are self-starters, they are proactive. However, I have found the most fundamental driver for keeping on track is to work on personal development.
4. Be willing to fail
Failing rarely means that in the long run. In fact, I would say that failure is often a necessary step to success. The greatest entrepreneurs will have some spectacular failure stories, what makes them a success is making the fact they have kept going. Some decisions will be mistakes, but the ones that are not will end up being the ones that define you.
5. Know when you need to employ great people and how
Going from one or two people to a growing and thriving company is tough and probably the hardest step is knowing when to hire the people who will help you shape the future. Hires like CFOs, CMOs, and HR professionals are tough. When do you stop relying on your founder savvy and bite the bullet on a pricey and risky hire, that is essential for growth?
The most logical step will always be to hire the most talented person you can on a flexible basis. That way you get the skill you need but without the huge risk and expense.
6. Focus on doing one thing spectacularly
It is all too easy to get carried away with all the things you can do, but spreading too thin by trying to be everything all at once is a mistake. Focus on your core skill set, the thing that you know is your foundation. It is better one thing at 100% than 10 things at 10%.
7. You will need to take a hit on the wallet but know when to rein it in
Make no mistake, it costs money to make money. But the best founders are the ones that don’t think in terms of making money but instead think about becoming valuable. That value is not always financial in the first instance, but without value, you cannot scale. Obviously, though, you cannot continue to be valuable if you cannot pay the rent or wages, balance is key and reining it in times of trouble is not a bad thing.
8. Be flexible and be willing to change your mind
Even if you believe you have nailed your niche be prepared that that will change at any time. Markets are fickle, as are customers, and if we have learned anything this year, so is the world. If you cannot pivot and react quickly to changes outside of your control you may end up left out in the cold.
9. Define your culture early on
This cannot be stated strongly enough, the biggest blocker companies hit when they scale rapidly is maintaining their company culture, messaging, and brand when the headcount gets big if they do not define this early on. Ensuring all your hires fit this culture is as important, in the early days misalignment of culture can mean growth can go off at a tangent that is impossible to scale.
10. Hire people based on what they can do, not when they can do it
So many companies battle with the problem of needing the most expensive professionals and not having the budget for them. The best way of looking at this is by hiring the skills you need, not filling a role. It is far better to have a CFO with 30 experience working for you for 24 hours a week than a finance manager with 5 years of experience working for you full-time. Always think about flexible hiring in the early stages, if not always.