In 1987, Bob Adams founded a startup to help employers with the burdens of HR, payroll and benefits administration. Today, Adams Keegan supports organizations across all 50 states. With Memphis and Start Co. hosting the Seventh Annual Startup of the Year Global Competition & Summit, it’s a good time to share some thoughts on creating a startup built to last.
Staying true to our early roots, we’re here to offer six practical steps that can help make any startup, whether for-profit or non-profit, successful.
Build it right from the start.
No matter how many calculations an entrepreneur may run, many are surprised at the actual costs for a successful startup. One of the most important factors is creating an organization with the right team and partners to help you accomplish your business goals and meet the needs of your customers. Without the right talent focused on the right challenges, your business will suffer. Unfortunately, finding the right employees and partners is one of the trickiest aspects to get right and one of the most dangerous if you get it wrong.
Create an accountable team with vision.
Set your goals clearly and make sure everyone understands what the vision is and their role within it. The people you choose to hire are responsible for the impression your business will have on the community around you. Avoid the “we’re a small company” mentality. Think big and make decisions that both protect the company and define the playing field. It’s difficult to change the nature of a team once culture is established.
Plan for growth with scalable solutions.
If you are over- or under-staffed from the beginning, you will likely have a skewed picture of true staffing costs. This makes it hard to understand what is necessary from your team to deliver the best possible experience for your customers. As you continue to grow and evolve, you need to be strategic about how and when you hire new team members. Have a plan in place to expand and support numerous locations and markets.
When it comes to identifying your customer and planning for growth, the temptation for every entrepreneur is to believe, “the larger we make the market, the bigger the opportunity.” This thought is dangerous to a young company, because you end up speaking to no one. Develop a profile of your target customer and speak to them directly.
Identify immediate needs and partners.
Ask yourself questions that get to the root of your immediate needs. What skills are you good at? What areas of expertise are you lacking? Think about who you need to contact to launch your startup right from the beginning. Identify third party vendors and outside consultants to help. This can be more cost-effective than hiring your own employees. You might find that you need expertise when it comes to HR and employee experience. It’s highly unlikely you established your company to focus on the daily burdens of transactional activities and support needs associated with HR, benefits administration, marketing or even IT.
Offer the right benefits.
Your employees are critical. Think about your company goals with regard to employees, and then work with a reliable partner to help you match benefits to those goals. You will likely be able to expand your benefit offerings in the future, but think about what is crucial for the early stages. Benefits such as flex time and working from home are inexpensive perks that can help keep employees happy. These benefits, growing in popularity, give employees another reason to have a sense of pride when talking to a friend about where they work.
Focus on the customer experience.
Who are your customers? What are their expectations? How can you deliver a superior experience for them? Create a feedback loop and develop new processes when you experience inefficiencies and bottlenecks. Whether these are taking place in staffing, operations or management, tap your resources to help you reevaluate where these problems can be turned into opportunities.
Having a strong team of experts and partners to support your managers and operational leaders ensures that strategy, employee alignment and customer experience are well thought out. Make sure a knowledgeable HR expert is watching the details, such as compliance, that can trip up your new business, causing it to close before it even gets going.