So you’ve done the hard part, you’ve managed to get some much-needed investment or venture capital for your fledgling startup.
But hold on, this is actually where the really hard stuff begins: you have got to spend that money wisely.
If you don’t all that effort will have been for nothing and what’s more, it will make finding further investment much harder.
Communication Is Key
It’s important to make sure that you and your colleagues are able to talk with each other effectively, that you’re all able to access tools such as a calendar or agenda system and any files can easily and securely be accessed via cloud or other platforms.
It may be that you’ve already set up a software suite to manage this side of your start-up, but if you have been using personal emails up until now, then it is about time you switched to a company account. It will look more professional and allows you to more effectively enact an IT policy with your staff, however small the team is.
There are several systems you can use, with G Suite from Google and Microsoft Office 365 being the market leaders. Both offer affordable plans that cater to companies of any size including startups.
To run a business successfully, you need to keep on top of your company’s books and manage your cash flow effectively. Unless you are an experienced accountant, do not try and do this yourself.
Though traditional accountants can be found for a reasonable price, it makes more sense for a startup to rely upon software which can easily track its finances.
There are several apps out there, such as Xero and Quickbooks Online, which will cost a fraction of the price of hiring a professional (we are talking paying several months membership fee for these apps versus the cost of one hour of an accountant’s time).
Paying Their Dues
Even if your startup consists of just you and your friend (and there’s nothing wrong with that; Apple started in this same way!), making sure that everyone gets paid is paramount.
Keeping staff happy and attracting the best talent to your business is really the only way that your startup is going to truly thrive.
Previously mentioned apps like Xero and Quickbooks double up as payroll systems, but there are also other services such as BambooHR and Paychex Flex which allow you to generate pay slips and link with your employees’ accounts to make direct payments amongst other functions.
Don’t sidestep this by paying cash-in-hand or sending pay directly from your own account. Your startup is a business and should be run as such.
More than Word of Mouth
If your startup is in a position where you are ready to go-to-market, then it is essential to have your marketing strategy arranged and your tools at the ready.
Having a great product that people will want to tell their friends about is good, but to see the exponential growth you need to rely on more than word of mouth.
First things first invest in a good website. If you are looking at a simple blog, then WordPress and Squarespace offer affordable and customizable sites.
For something more complex, it is worth spending money on getting a good web designer or marketing company like Hubspot to create something for you. A potential customer is unlikely to return to your site or share it if the experience isn’t user-friendly.
Advertisement can often be one of the biggest outlays for any business, and for startups spending this sort of money can be particularly daunting. With pay-per-click choices such as a Google Ads, you can manage your spend so that you don’t go over budget and this measured approach allows you to decide whether you need to pour a little more money into your PPC’s or scale back.
Whilst social media is often seen as a free resource for marketing, making use of promoted tweets, posts or updates can be a way to reach your audience without seeming too intrusive and most platforms offer affordable price plans.
If appropriate you can even look at hiring an “influencer”, a social media personality who can reach out to their followers on your behalf (for a fee) and spread awareness, especially if those same followers share these posts with others.
Delivering the Goods
You are constantly pumping out great content that users flock to – fantastic! But what if that content doesn’t load properly or there are latency issues? Your popularity is going to dwindle. Fast.
Invest in a Content Delivery Network (CDN) and you’ll remove or at the very least reduce the chances of any buffering issues, slow loading and the general irritations that can put a user off a product or site.
There are several CDN providers out there all catering to different budgets, though check how well these function according to the region, as the geographic location does make a difference.
(Net)working the Room
It may seem a little old-fashioned, but there really is something to be said for getting out there and telling people about your product, company and ultimately yourself and maybe even acquiring more investment!
Networking events are a great way to accomplish this, since attendees are there specifically to meet people like you, to talk business and share ideas, without it being too much of a hard-selling atmosphere.
Whilst some of these are free, many of the best events require an entry fee (plus you may need to pay for refreshments – it’s hard to sound business-like if your tummy is rumbling!).
Do some research on these events, see what the success rate is and if your peers have any recommendations.
Burning a Hole in Your Pocket
The above points should give you an idea of how best to spend any investment or venture capital that you have received, though these aren’t the be-all and end-all.
Don’t be too eager to spend that money right away; instead, make a list of what your company requires. If you have a functioning company email and office suite, then, of course, there’s no need to buy another (provided it does everything you want it to and isn’t just a placeholder!).
A good way to start is to look at your business itself: the staff, the infrastructure, and day-to-day operations. Then make sure you have a product that is ready to go and finally the tools to market and deliver it.