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Growth Tips For Early-Stage Startups

Investors are highly concerned about the potential for rapid growth and high-future earnings before investing; gathering sufficient insights from consumer interactions and using data to build and develop serves as a solid foundation for growth at this early stage. 

Fundraising

Abiola Seriki

April 17, 2021

In an early-stage startup, growth is essentially crucial for survival. Amidst the frenzy of starting up a company, the ability to grow your business is predominant at this stage. Primarily, the focus should be on intensifying market research, product development and customer acquisition. 

Investors are highly concerned about the potential for rapid growth and high-future earnings before investing; gathering sufficient insights from consumer interactions and using data to build and develop serves as a solid foundation for growth at this early stage. 

Below are some valuable growth tips for early-stage startups;

Prioritize Market Data

Since the startup is at the stage where customer acquisition is paramount, quality data insights are paramount. Every customer interaction is an avenue to gather, store and use meaningful data for growth optimization. When you interact with consumers, you are able to understand not just their thought processes but also how well your product/service is structured for actual conversions. 

"Spend a lot of time talking to customers face-to-face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers." - Ross Perot - David Bakke

You are also able to identify the stumbling blocks in your product/business development process and make better decisions as you grow. It’s also salient that before setting out to acquire data, you itemize the values/information that you intend to measure. Doing this helps ensure that the data being acquired is relevant for the business/product growth. 

Beyond consumer insights, other sources of data are also to be prioritized. Refine and extract the quality data needed to enhance your business growth.

Identify a growth channel

Because the business is focused on acquiring customers, it’s easy to get distracted by different growth channels in the early stages. The key is identifying the channels that work well and focusing on those channels solely. Consider the data you’ve gathered so far alongside your business model. Do you need to be organically content-driven or invest in paid ads targeted at your ideal consumers? Do you need to focus on community developments and referrals? Do you need evangelists to spread the word about what you do? These are some questions to answer to help you select the right channels to focus on. Also, understand that funding at this stage might hinder the selection of a suitable channel. Curating an effective strategy on another channel might be a more effective solution. 

Consider Timing

In some cases, advocating for growth might not be the foremost step to take at this point. The reason why the business isn’t growing might be due to the timing. Prospects might actually be highly interested in acquiring your products but aren’t purchasing because your product hasn’t really solved the solution they require. Your focus might be to refine what you’ve created for the market rather than spending a lot on acquisition. The founder of Eventbrite, Brian Rothenberg, stated recently, 

“don’t lean too heavily into growth before finding product/market fit.” 

In the description of his early stages at TaskRabbit, he said, “We effectively had an underlying leaky bucket issue: If a new customer’s first task wasn’t successfully completed, that customer almost never came back. We spent too much time and money trying to brute-force our growth through this foundational issue when we should have pumped the brakes on customer acquisition and shifted focus to solving this underlying matching issue, which would have set us on a faster course to true product-market fit.” Timing is a huge factor to consider when optimizing for growth. Ensure that you have your internal challenges sorted and also use the data you’ve gathered to identify possible stumbling blocks. 

Instil a growth mindset

A great advantage that early-stage startups have is small teams. Communication within small teams is always easier hence it’s important that you are able to instil a growth mindset in every individual. 

"Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up." – Oliver Wendell Holmes

For example, when building products at an early stage, letting individuals know that the core objective of every single work being done is to help intensify user growth makes it easier for the team to also help enhance growth. They also begin to think like a user and are able to create and suggest solutions that will increase user acquisitions. Let the team understand the ‘why.’ Why do you need to grow at this stage and what’s necessary for growth? How is growth identified? What are the key metrics for growth in each department and how are people able to identify how to know what’s working and what is not? 

Be Patient

The desire to grow fast can impede the need to create good quality products. Understand that patience is very important for growth and making quick decisions can actually harm your business at this stage. You might be trapped in the box of scattering a process because it’s not working fast while being unaware that it’s actually the most effective process for growth. Encourage a culture of patience, set timelines, do quality tests and checks, research similar products/brands and identify areas for improvement. 

There are many things that can impede growth at an early stage. While some factors can be internal while others might be external, such as market positioning, product pricing, market fit, and acquisition channels. The underlying key is being able to identify the problem and curate an effective strategy to solve it.