When growing a startup, there are typically three main areas of focus: sales, operations and the back office. By nature, the DNA of most entrepreneurs – including but not limited to those in healthcare – leads them to focus most of their attention on sales. This often results in a common challenge for entrepreneurs: the fixation on sales means they are not looking at the whole picture. Entrepreneurs all share the passion and vision regarding their company’s key audiences, particularly who will buy their products and how much they will sell. However, the operations and back office teams are needed as well to help drive an entrepreneur’s product to that world-changing next level.
Whether developing software or manufacturing technology, operational projects are very difficult and competitive and resources are often tight. Therefore, it’s important to have experienced people who can help take your idea to the next level by using their skills and providing novel ideas. While sales are the lifeblood of a company, it is imperative to invest an adequate amount of time and resources into the operations and back office teams, as they will be the ones to propel the vision forward and turn it into something meaningful.
To overcome this challenge, it’s important to find mentors and partners around you that have expertise in the areas you don’t. As an entrepreneur building a startup, you don’t know what you don’t know – and that’s alright. Bringing others in to help your company not only gives you an opportunity to expand your professional network and business knowledge, but it also benefits your company by filling in gaps and building a holistic environment. For an entrepreneur, finding mentors and partners often means looking for people with a background in operations and back office areas, whether it is project management, accounting, legal, or filing for your IP.
From Internal Development to External Growth
Once sales, operations and the back office have been prioritized and a comprehensive environment has been built, the next big challenge for startups is scalability and growth. When you want to start scaling a business, typically the first thing you need is capital. The common problem, however, is that everyone thinks they have a great business idea. In a highly competitive market, how do you get people to invest in your big idea?
Before reaching out to a potential investor, it is critical to understand the market’s needs as well as what your value proposition is. In addition, you need to understand what the investor wants, not necessarily what you want. Investors’ objectives are different from entrepreneurs’ objectives. Although investors may admire your vision, saving the world is not their reason for investing. Investors are looking for an idea that will provide them with a good return on their investment. If you don’t know the details of a potential investor’s objectives, then don’t be afraid to ask – and don’t assume you already know.
From that point, it is crucial to communicate and ask questions so you know who you are partnering with. You need to be in alignment and fully on the same page, regardless of whether it is an investor or a strategic growth partner. This means more than aligning on the mission – many partners easily align on this. Rather, entrepreneurs must have deeper discussions about the operations and growth strategies of the company.
As an entrepreneur, don’t shy away from bringing in help to make sure all of your bases are covered. Asking for input and assistance early on will help you avoid bigger problems down the road – especially when it is time to take your startup to the next level.