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How to Scale Up After Starting Up

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The road to running and establishing a successful startup is not easy as it is paved with many pitfalls.  A lot of work goes into building a successful workplace as panning out targets and revenues. Scaling up is a make or break for many startups which are trying to reach out to a broader client base.  Here are some important transitional pointers which will help you bridge the gap between starting up and scaling up.

Ways to handle a scale up

Establish market demographic: 

Startups are continuously trying to identify the perfect market fit for their products or services.  The key to scaling up is to establish a perfect market fit. Then the onus lies on the startup to figure out the growth numbers and establish targets and add a time frame to it.  A good startup will have to be ready to handle the additional work by having a well established workflow so they do not have to compromise on the targets due to lack of preparation.  When Garrett Camp, the co founder of popular taxi service app Uber, had to pay an exorbitant sum for hiring a taxi to go out with his friends, he saw an opportunity to reduce the cost of direct transportation.  He realised sharing the cost with people can make it affordable for the people and that is how Uber began—by finding the perfect product fit.

Automation: 

Automation is an important part of scaling up as it allows the startup to focus its resources where they can be useful.  Tasks like onboarding, payroll and invoicing, amongst many others, can be automated. Documenting workflows and building a knowledge resource can also play a key role in training new resources.  Shifting to cloud based platforms will offer a huge amount of relief, owing to not having to worry about missing any key piece of information. American car manufacturer Ford began with a group of people working on assembling a car.  Henry Ford realised if he could cut down on the production time for making a single car, he could sell the cars faster. This led to the beginning of the assembly line concept, which was later adapted by multiple industries.

Managing funding and revenues: 

While it is a huge relief for startups when they secure funding, there is also a high chance the funds may be mismanaged if there is no budget in place.  This can be avoided if the startup has already established its market demographic and has a competent finance team in place. A good example would be how the Lehman Brothers, after becoming the fourth largest investment firm, mismanaged its funds by overlooking real estate problems.  This led to them filing for bankruptcy.  

Defining hierarchy and work roles:

A startup has a good chance of scaling up if the work can be picked up by a team member when a founder is not available.  Establishing clear roles to each member so they don’t lose track of their goals is important. As a startup slowly begins scaling up, it needs to slowly deviate away from the model where a single employee is juggling multiple roles.  With more members and revenue flowing in to support the scale up, having well defined roles can help in reducing unproductivity. Bringing in a managerial structure helps in managing your resources better, along with providing leadership experiences as well.

Prevent burnouts:

Burnouts among employees are common occurrences in startups, to which even the founders are subject.  This needs to be addressed as it affects the mental and physical health of the individual, which in turn could affect the performance of the team.  There needs to be a healthy wellness program in place and good employee satisfaction levels which can be achieved by various programs such as leaves, allowances and the like.  A lot of companies began to take note of this and responded by offering unlimited paid time offs, creating employee wellness programs, offering attractive paternity and maternity leaves.  Recently, Microsoft tested a four day work week in Japan, thanks to which the employee productivity increased by 38 %. 

While there is no firm road map to scaling up, keeping an eye out for the above pointers could help with having an organic scale up.  If the problems with scaling up are still affecting the company’s growth or revenues, it is important to take expert advice to help with the scaling up.

Read about how to start a business here: A SIMPLE GUIDE TO STARTING A BUSINESS

 

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How Does WhatsApp Generate Revenue

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How Does WhatsApp Generate Revenue

If you own a smartphone, there is a very high chance that you are a WhatsApp user.  The simple and lightweight online messaging application has embedded itself into our lives and has become indispensable.  Family groups, friend groups, office groups, play groups and many other groups like these see millions of conversations happening on a daily basis.  But have you ever wondered how this leading online messaging application makes its money?  There are no ads on WhatsApp and if that is the case from where does Whatsapp generate its revenue?

The answer to the question goes back to the beginning of WhatsApp which was founded by Brain Acton and Jan Koum, both of whom were ex- Yahoo employees.  When Whatsapp was first developed and deployed for public use it became an instant hit with users but the founders quickly realised they required data centers to handle the huge volumes of data from the user conversations to keep WhatsApp running.  So, they set a price of $1 for some countries and for some other countries it was free for the first year but charged $1 for renewal from the second year onwards.  In short this was a subscription model and Whatsapp had 700 million users at the peak of this model which meant it was generating 700 million dollars in revenue.

Facebook ended up purchasing WhatsApp in 2014 for $ 19 billion but one of the founders Jan Koum decided to leave WhatsApp because of a disagreement with Facebook over its use of user data and its desire to allow advertisements on WhatsApp.  Both the founders were vocal supporters of user data privacy.  As of 2020, WhatsApp has over 2 billion users, the second largest user database after Facebook.

ALSO READ: 4 Useful And New WhatsApp Features That Released During The COVID-19 Lockdown 

But How is Whatsapp generating its revenue now since there are still no ads on display in the mobile app.  In a 2016 blogpost WhatsApp said “Starting this year, we will test tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations that you want to hear from.  The goal is to have people communicate directly with their banks, airlines, etc. over the app, while the businesses pick up the bill previously paid through subscriptions.”  Facebook also uses the data from the user messages in WhatsApp to increase the reach of its ads on Facebook.  However, a user has the ability to turn off the settings which allow Whatsapp to share the data with Facebook.  According to a Forbes estimate, WhatsApp is generating a revenue of $ 5 billion at an average revenue of $4 per user.

Facebook is benefiting from Whatsapp by generating a huge wealth of consumer behavior data which inturn is being used to improve the ads on Facebook.  WhatsApp has a growing revenue stream because of the new users it keeps adding to its database and still has a lot of room to grow.

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How To Identify Your Target Audience

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How To Identify Your Target Audience

Startups are created when there is an existing problem which needs to be solved.  Startups often spend years in moulding and creating a product or a service which aims to address a need or a problem.  However, it can be easy to lose track of the end goal if the product or the service is not in the hands of the actual target audience.  Target audience is a group of people you want to reach with your publication, advertisement (ads) or a message.  For example ads related to non vegetarian food would not do any good if they are placed in areas with a high vegetarian population.  Ads related to high end cutting edge computers would not do any good if they are not placed in areas which have a high density of industries.  Simply put identifying a target audience will translate into sales for your product or service.

Target audiences can be identified by following three simple steps

1. Creating a customer profile:

The first step in identifying a target audience is to assign certain characteristic attributes to the audience which include

  • Age: What is the age demographic that is most likely to use your product or service.  This is important because customers across different age groups think differently, which would mean the marketing campaign needs to be tweaked accordingly.
  • Gender:  This is an important metric to be established because a product needs to be able to address these differences.  For example, it does not make sense for a male grooming product to be advertised to the female gender.
  • Spending Capability: The ability of a target audience to spend greatly affects marketing strategies.  People who are able to afford spending luxuriously respond well to marketing campaigns which stress luxury and exclusivity.  For example, OnePlus the mobile phone developer positioned itself as a flagship killer with the features of a flagship.  It was able to appeal to the middle class spectrum which in turn translated into a huge volume of sales.

Other key characteristics can include marital status, geographic location, hobbies, interests and many more.

ALSO READ: How To Ensure Team Meetings Are Productive During Work From Home Due To Lockdown

2. Conduct market research

A lot can be gleaned from conducting primary and secondary market research.  Primary research involves learning about customer buying habits through direct contact like surveys, interviews and focus groups.  This is why a lot of startups and businesses usually ask customers to answer survey questionnaires when they make a purchase. Secondary market research is a kind of a market research method that involves collecting information or data from secondary sources.  This means a business collects and uses information that has previously been collected by some other person or entity.   A simple example would be food delivery platforms like Swiggy and Zomato asking feedback about a recent food order.  The purpose of this is to curate a better restaurant selection experience for you when placing a new order.

3. Observing competition

It is safe to say that no product or a service would be a monopoly as new players will keep on emerging in the market.  It is always a good idea to know what your competitors are doing with their businesses. This would offer fresh insights related to your marketing strategy like what other offerings could be added to your portfolio, or how a marketing campaign can be changed to tailor the ever changing customer demands.  Analysing a competitor can lead to valuable modifications to your offering and yield new business.  An example here would be how Zomato acquired UberEats thereby making them the market leader in the food delivery industry in India.  Previously Swiggy used to rule the market by holding a majority share in the market.  Zomato realised that instead of putting in resources to penetrate the market, acquiring UberEats would give them the advantage.  Zomato now holds around 50% of the market in the food delivery business in India.

Target audiences will need to be reassessed periodically on a regular basis.  The customer profile needs to be refined regularly and the marketing campaign changed accordingly.  As the market trends keep constantly evolving, one can stay ahead of the curve by doing their due diligence in gathering market research data.  Start defining and understanding your target audience so that you can make the most of your precious time.

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How To Ensure Team Meetings Are Productive During Work From Home Due To Lockdown

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How To Ensure Team Meetings Are Productive During Work From Home Due To Lockdown

The entire world is currently battling its biggest threat so far, the Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19 virus.  Businesses and corporate organizations were totally unprepared for the lockdown of entire countries across the globe, which is a consequence of the COVID-19 virus.  The lockdowns were enforced as a desperate measure to curb the spread of the virus and give the healthcare infrastructure some amount of leeway to combat the virus.

However, companies and businesses adapted to the lockdown by enforcing a mandatory work from home option to ensure work stays on track.  Working from home means having to balance both personal and professional lives at the same place and this can often lead to frustrating situations.  Physical team meetings have now moved to virtual spaces where teams can catch up on targets and establish new targets.  But virtual team meetings can sometimes drag onto a long time which leads to the decrease in the productivity of the meetings and also a waste of time.

There are however ways to ensure the virtual meetings and conference calls to stay productive and also to finish them efficiently in minimal times.

Equip the team with the right technology and tools

More often than not team meetings see a wastage of time during the beginning of the meets when everyone is joining the meet.  Time is lost while checking for the quality of the video and audio and can often look disorganized.  It is important to use the right tools or apps which are light and easy to use.  Examples include Zoom, Google Meets and Hangouts or Microsoft Teams.  Equipping the team with the right tools means the managers and the team stay on the right page.

Being Prepared

It is important to spend some time before the meeting to prepare a list of questions and tasks that need to be addressed during the online meeting.  This simple task will not only ensure that you stay on track during the meeting but also lets you get into the right frame of mind for the meeting.  Any follow up questions can be compiled and can be asked in an email or in a one on one call.

Keep the time/time zones in mind

While scheduling a meeting, the time should be taken into consideration.  No one likes to have a meeting early in the morning because it is a normal time in a different timezone.  A meeting should be fixed so that everyone attending is comfortable which would in turn mean everyone would be able to participate efficiently.

Speaking over each other

While working remotely, one may not be able to see each other clearly either due to slow internet or bad hardware.  There can be video and audio lags as well which would mean you might not be able to know when someone is speaking which would mean two people are speaking at the same time making the situation a little awkward.  Therefore it is important to take a pause before speaking to check if someone else on the team is speaking.

Make the team meetings a regular part of the schedule

It is advisable to avoid ad hoc and impromptu meetings during remote working hours as it might disrupt an employee’s work flow.  Agreeing on a time and schedule for a team meeting will also send an important message that other people’s time is valuable.  Preparing for the meeting in advance also allows you to avoid potential connection issues.

As the large majority of the world is currently working from home, it would be safe to assume that a lot of roles would see the transition to remote work once lockdowns are lifted.  However for the moment, it is important to remember that time is valuable and following the above mentioned points will help in improving the productivity of virtual team meetings.

Also read: How To Onboard The Right Investor For Your Startup

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