Over the years that I have been working with startups and early-stage businesses I have overheard many different things. The majority of these follow the normal concerns of any entrepreneur that is entering into uncharted waters for themselves but there have also been some comments that I have overheard that have been unique to the individual’s concerns or the setting in which it was said.
Overheard at a startup...
Some questions in life are more fundamental than others and some are more specific or technical, and so it is in the world of early stage businesses. But for the person asking the question, each carries the same weight, and each is of the same importance because at the time of asking it is that point that is not understood.
Some people are afraid of networking and others love it! It is true. We have all come across people that love nothing more than going to networking events and chatting to as many people as possible – some of these really get the benefits that good networking can bring to them and their business, and others simply love networking because it fits their outgoing personality.
Any business at any stage of its life must be able to adapt and change to changing circumstances. One of the very real benefits that early stage businesses have is that they are small and fast on their feet and are therefore perfectly structured to be able to react swiftly to changing circumstances.
These are strange times, unsettling times, and if I am honest this is not a normal question that I overhear much in more normal times, but recently THE question that I keep hearing is ‘do I have to work remotely and what does that mean for my customers?’ or, put another way, ‘does remote working have to mean working remotely?’
Coronavirus is on everyone’s lips, not literally but figuratively. And for very good reason. It seems so long ago already that the only thing in the news was all things Brexit, and how companies will need to adapt in order to survive, and now that has been brushed aside by a much bigger and more urgent threat – coronavirus.
Any business at any time has to constantly be considering how best to trade in the present, and how best to trade in the future. This is equally true in the good times as it is in the difficult times. For many, this strange period where the world is caught up in the coronavirus pandemic is certainly one of the much more difficult times, but for some lucky businesses it is actually a period of rapid growth and great opportunity.
Money most certainly does not buy happiness, but it does make the world go round. And the lack of money can lead to hardship in many ways. A question that I keep overhearing recently is about whether it is still possible to raise finance during the coronavirus pandemic. The simple answer is yes… maybe!
As we emerge blinking into the light post lockdown, what will the ‘new normal’ look like? The questions that I am overhearing have changed very recently, from those covering how to survive during lockdown, to those focused around how to get back to normal working? In truth, the questions vary from the theoretical to the practical, but in essence they all ask, ‘how will we adapt to the ‘new normal’?
Many businesses ask me many questions but one of the questions that has become more common over the last few months is whether their business should pivot. Regular readers will know that many of the answers to questions I overhear are often prefaced with ‘well it depends’ but this question can in many ways be easier to answer than that.
After nine long weeks of lockdown, businesses are starting to re-open or, at least, planning to reopen in the near future. For some of the luckier ones this might be possible without having to make too many, or too onerous, changes. For others, the planning will need to be much mere detailed and the implementation will be much more complex.
As spring turns into summer and the fears of lockdown turn into the uncertainties of release, many early stage companies are effectively having to start all over again, either because they have been temporarily closed and have been in something of a coma like state, or because they have pivoted and the business plan has changed from the original. The question being asked by so many, is ‘what do we do and how do we go about it?’ and is focused around the fundamental question that takes all founders back to the origins of their business.
According to UK Government statistics some 660,000 new companies are established each year and many of these will have plans to scale rather than to remain a micro business. Some founders will of course be happy to run their startup as a side hustle, and others will only be looking for a lifestyle business. But for many others that are looking for something larger, ‘how do I scale my business?’ is a question that I am often asked.
It goes without saying that for any business, in any sector, in order for it to survive, grow and prosper, sales are imperative, because sales generate profit and cash flow and these are the lifeblood of any business. It is understandable, therefore, that I often overhear the question ‘how do I promote my business?’
We live in changing times. Rapidly changing times. Times always change and move forward but what has been remarkable recently has been the fact that the speed of change continues to increase year on year. It is no surprise, therefore, that many founders, both first time entrepreneurs and serial entrepreneurs, often ask themselves, and me, ‘where do I go from here?’