Reach the Peak — Scaleup mandatory!
A startup is not finished with the MVP and to cash out with the first buyer knocking at your door. It might be tempting, but why not go the whole scary and difficult way of making your attempt at reaching the peak: SCALEUP!
I have heard it from various sources and a lot from investors: every entrepreneur and startup company should attempt to scaleup, to see the impact your technology, service, a solution can bring to the market. Is it scalable? How does the growth relate to manpower?=Is it disruptive or just incremental innovation? What are the hurdles, how do you lock out the competition?
Many don’t go for the scaleup, still, about 90% of startups fail, and most don’t see the light of the third year of operations.
Still so many try and want to do a startup. Maybe not knowing what you are getting into, or for any other reason. So make sure you do love what you are doing. If it fails, you have had a huge amount of fun, along with the hard work. And maybe, if you succeed, there might be a pot of gold waiting for you, but don’t make that your driving force. But ensure that you get sufficient funding to take you to your next milestones and add some contingency.
What can I say? I have worked years in corporates, with “innovation” that was never meant to be commercialized (internal competition and other hurdles), but I have really enjoyed the many years (and many more to come!) as an entrepreneur.
A startup journey is both exciting and exhausting. It helps to have a vision and overall plan with your co-founders from the start. Are you going to develop IP/technology only and then try to take an exit? Do you want to run user tests developing an MVP, to show that there is market interest? Or do you want to go full-in — going commercial, determined to scale up and grow your beachhead market and become the market leader? With your vision and mission, do you have the passion and persistence, to find the right collaboration partners to make the innovation a disruptive market force and execute, making an impact changing common practices and business solutions? Innovate or Die.
During the early stages — prototyping, MVP testing, and early commercial, you will learn tremendously from failures, the knowledge you should use for improving and iterating your product, service, business model, sales approach, customer needs, and segment. The failures bring you closer to perfection. It knits your team together. Remember to have transparency and sharing of information, not just on a “need-to-know” basis, as this will not empower your team, make it a habit of success to share and be transparent. This way the team can contribute to the learnings, improvements and also understand better what their role is in the overall picture.
Organically, and perhaps with a little push, you will get into the scale-up phase. If mistakes and early failure learnings were crucial, you are now stepping into the zone where “FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION” has to be clear for the whole team. Scaling up you will on a continuous basis be confronted with new challenges to solve on the go. Have the team to support you. Here we start the climb towards the peak of the mountain, don’t look down too often…
Getting up to peak requires a lot of effort and resources. Ensure you have the right backpack (I do enjoy hiking in the mountains by the way if you wondered about my type of pictures…). The scale-up phase requires hands-on methods with precision, don’t wait to act, when you see a problem. Solving them generates unique knowledge for the team, so the communication and information flow is critical as mentioned earlier. As a small core team, everyone’s actions affect the operational results, so make sure that the right metrics are monitored and followed up. The scale-up phase also requires a lot of collaborations with third parties. Now you want to make an impact, and your own resources will surely not be sufficient. Remember that the most important asset is PEOPLE, both your own and the extended team with partners. Search for the partnering companies that can provide you access to additional general manpower as well as where you can get support and advice from experts. This will give you robustness.
As such, reaching the peak, achieving the goals together with the team is an awesome feeling. Then you can start dreaming about the next goal and the even higher peak. Enjoy the climb!