Scale-up to reach the peak
A startup is not finished with the MVP…
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 trying 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 be the leaders. 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?
Well, first of all I think it is important to be sure you have passion about what you are doing. You have to like it. Remember 90% of startups fail according to Investopedia:
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.
During the early stages — prototyping, MVP testing and early commercial, you will learn tremendously from failures, knowledge you should use for improving and iterating your product, service, business model, sales approach, customer needs and segment. The failures brings you closer to perfection. It knits your team together.
Organically, and perhaps with a little push, you will get into the scale-up phase. Now this becomes a highly critical phase. For me, here “FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION” has to be clear for the whole team. We know that scaling-up will surface a lot of challenges and new problems that needs to be taken care of. Here we start the climb towards the peak of the mountain.
Getting up to peak requires a lot of efforts and resources. Ensure you have the right backpack (I do enjoy hiking in the mountains by the way…). 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 a small core team, everyone’s actions affects 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 the own resources will surely not be sufficient.
With your strategy and plan, keep it up to date, and ensure that you have sufficient funding to hit your milestones. And have some extra, just in case. You might hit some additional hurdles, as the scale-up always unburies some hidden stones under the melting snow…
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 peak!