In order to grow, new businesses need more than just an innovative idea and sufficient funds to get it off the ground. Growth and success are built on trust relationships, and the most successful entrepreneurs are ultimately those who build and maintain those relationships best. This is true in every relationship a business has, including those with employees, suppliers, customers, and ultimately investors.
At the age of 33, and with an estimated net worth of $2.3 million USD, Kathryn Minshew, the founder and CEO of career portal The Muse, doesn’t fit the profile of big Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. Rather, her career resonates with the experience of many young entrepreneurs today, and offers us unique insights that we can apply in our own businesses.
Entrepreneurs are inherently risk takers. They know that successfully creating a new business, standing out in a competitive industry, and eventually growing to prominence all depend on finding ways to stand out, and to provide new and innovative solutions to customers. It’s not a simple endeavour, of course, to leverage this knowledge to reach entrepreneurial success. Developing those solutions requires research, experimentation, and time. Innovative businesses need innovative employees, expertise, and the resources to test and implement new ideas. All of these things cost money that many businesses don’t have to spare unless that investment produces returns within a reasonable timeframe.
Entrepreneurs invest an enormous amount of time, effort, and resources in building their startups into stable, profitable enterprises. Considering these major sacrifices, it’s no surprise that many business owners become very cautious about making major changes once they do achieve that stability and profitability. Unfortunately, those instincts can get in the way of their business’ continued growth and longer term success.
When we discuss growing a business, the conversation typically focuses on financing, innovation, personnel management, and cost management. Another key factor that’s often under-emphasised is customer service. In a way, the way that businesses interact with customers is a part of the product, and optimising this can often benefit a business as much as any other form of product development.
Throughout his career, Jack Dorsey has operated with a laser focus on the power of fast, simple, and effective communication. Reaching well beyond his work in founding and serving as Twitter’s first CEO, Dorsey has applied his passion for good communication to his other business ventures, as well as his personal management philosophy.
Founding and running a business is a taxing experience, both in the short and long term. Going on to transform a new startup into a successful and growing enterprise is a downright herculean task. The road to success is long, and can often be discouraging. Considering this, it’s understandable that a large majority or new businesses never make it past their first year, and many of those that do never grow to become significant names in their industry.
Running any startup requires entrepreneurs to walk a financial tightrope before becoming profitable. International startups, though, face the added complexity of managing international transactions, foreign suppliers, distributors, and employees. This makes it even more difficult for them to become profitable and makes them even more vulnerable to cash flow interruptions than their domestic counterparts.
Looking at the biggest names in tech entrepreneurship, one could be excused for imagining that disruptive AI innovation was largely limited to Silicon Valley in the US. Of course this isn’t actually the case. While Facebook, Google, and Elon Musk have dominated headlines on their development of artificial intelligence, Dr. Catriona Wallace has been putting it into practice in Australia. While big names are concerning themselves with attention-grabbing super AI, Wallace is working at the cutting edge of AI technology to develop practical applications and create real value for businesses and their customers.
Growth is a complex process for businesses, especially when they’re transitioning out of their initial startup phase. Business owners often view cash flow issues as their biggest barrier, but there’s an additional challenge that needs to be overcome after financing has been sorted. Continuing to satisfy a growing client base while going through a growth phase is an enormous challenge. It means finding new suppliers, buying equipment, acquiring new facilities, and, most importantly, expanding your workforce without seriously disrupting your current activities.