Taking your tech start-up to the next level

(NOTE: This blog post was first published on TechWeek’s blog.)

Your tech company started with an idea that turned into a product, most likely built by a lean team, and now you are starting to think about scaling everything up. But… where should you start? Here are some of the key factors in building your business.

Focus, focus and … focus

First off, you need to keep doing what you did when you launched your start-up: Focus on the problem you are solving for your customer! You launched with a killer idea, but are you still on target? How has the market changed? How have your customers’ needs changed? How have your competitors’ products or marketing tactics evolved? It is critical to make sure your products and ideas have evolved accordingly.

Focusing on what differentiates your company will also help you stay on track. So many companies get caught up trying to become all things to all people and chasing “the next shiny thing.” You need to be ruthless about your priorities, which is definitely one of the hardest things to do right when you are in an exciting time of growth.

Your team is your greatest asset

As the leader in your company, your most important job is to make sure the right people – employees, partners, and investors – are in the right seats. Just like you have to regularly track your customer base and your product offerings, you also have to make sure you have the right team in place to not only support your growth, but also enable it.

Hiring great people and providing them with great leadership (aka being a great boss) while holding them accountable is of the utmost importance when building a successful team of highly competent and productive people. As the saying goes, “people quit their bosses, not their jobs.” With great employees and great leadership come great products, great customer service, a great company culture and a solid foundation to build a meaningful brand.

You also need to make sure you end up with the right investors. At one of my previous companies, we didn’t do enough due diligence on a potential investor and realized too late that they were more focused on short-term ROI at the expense of long-term growth. Long story short, we ended up having to sell the company, short of the potential success we could have achieved.

Goal alignment with investors is key. Before bringing on prospective investors, you need to do your homework and extensively research their background and portfolio to make sure they are genuinely interested in helping your company grow.

Same goes with how you choose your partners. Research extensively before committing to a long-term relationship with them. Remember, your main job is to keep your team focused. Even if it feels like you are saying no more than you are saying yes.

Work on the business not in the business

If I had to name one thing that most executives should improve on to keep building their company, I would say micro managing. Being too involved in the day-to-day of your business is destructive in the long term, as it will prevent you from focusing on what you are trying to accomplish. You should be able to trust your team to handle the critical details.

So in less than 140 characters

Keep focusing on the problem you are solving, build a team who can deliver and whom you can trust, and have fun!

I will be talking about all of the above and more at TechWeek LA next week, so I encourage you to come and attend. And if you have any questions in the meantime, just hit me up on Twitter at @RussReeder.

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