Tech x Tech = Startup Growth

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The next generation of aspiring startups are hoping their technology will change the world. But what about the technology that is changing startups? I’ve spent the last few years working with some of Europe’s biggest startup success stories, helping them put in place the right business platforms to support rapid growth.

Today’s fast-growing companies are smaller, nimbler, and more able to take advantage of the gaps left by big-name competitors thanks to technology. Combined with shifting market dynamics and consumer demands for fast, convenient, often self-service interactions, it’s little surprise that established brands are being challenged by newer entrants like GoCardless, PetShop.co.uk and Landbay. Crucially, there are lessons all startups can take from these success stories.

Getting the fundamentals right

Before you scale your startup, you need to make sure you have the right things in place – a clear mission, market differentiation and the right team. But as you grow the fundamentals shift, and it becomes easy to lose track of the information you’ve worked so hard for.

All of a startup’s characteristics – the focus on innovation and the desire to bring new propositions to market quickly – rely on having up-to-the minute information in order to make big decisions quickly and confidently. Investing in a cloud-based business management platform will help to integrate all key business functions from the outset – from financials through to Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Such systems help to break down the information silos that so often form as businesses get bigger, by centralising data on one single platform for the entire business to access.

It’s certainly not the most glamorous aspect of scaling a startup, but if you build your business on inefficient processes, disconnected systems, and silos of data, you’re only going to slow your growth in the long term. Startups who hope to scale quickly and effectively need to think about solving these growth issues from the offset. They will need to understand the technology their team need in the future and incorporate these projections in their planning today.

Help your people focus on what they do best

Leadership isn’t about telling employees what do – it is about empowering people and trusting their skills to deliver outcomes that matter. But in a time-poor environment with distractions and obligations at every turn, it can be difficult for a startup’s people to stay focused on their core capabilities as they diversify and grow.

Technology can play an important role in taking a lot of the administrative burden that piles up as a business scales up. Startups can’t afford to waste time and resources on functions that don’t match up with their strengths. If tasks like data entry can be automated to focus on contributing to the bottom line, people are empowered rather than bogged down. For instance, the co-founder of PetShop.co.uk, the subscription-based pet food supplier, credits technology with helping the business scale quickly, expand internationally, and giving back time to focus on the human touches that matter, like writing all email correspondence personally.

The ability to overcome administrative burdens is even more pronounced when a startup grows internationally. When obstacles like new languages, currencies and different compliance procedures come into play, there is a risk that operations will become more complicated. However, the right business management system can provide the seamless foundation for painless growth, by automating language translations, currency conversions and adapting to different regulatory environments when it comes to tax and local regulations. This helps startups stay nimble even as they expand.

Invest in insight

You wouldn’t travel to an unknown location without the help of GPS, and the same is true for leading a startup. Businesses armed with insight will find themselves in the best position to navigate change, avoid potential pitfalls, and make the most out of impending opportunities when the time is right for expansion or the delivery of new products or services.

Business management systems ensure that startups have real-time access to all aspects of their business, from cashflow through to inventory levels. This arms the business with all the information they need to make better business decisions. Data can, for example, help identify bottlenecks in the supply chain. It can also help startups get to know their largest core users, or determine which of their marketing channels are yielding the biggest ROI.

All the successful startups I have worked with have shared an appreciation for the potential of technology. Whether they’re embedding it in their products, or using it to break into new markets, these startups agree that technology provides solid foundations on which businesses can grow. Now they’re also learning that technology can also help support their internal processes during rapid growth, and are eagerly investing in systems that can scale alongside them.