Last week Sean our Cofounder teamed up with Eric Cozart of Dirt Cheap Startup to host a webinar on the “4 Costly Mistakes Killing Your Startup And How To Fix Them.” If you don’t know, Eric runs the site DirtCheapStartUp, which is a community that provides support and advice for those on their own startup journey.
Opening with a quote from Mark Cuban “Your biggest enemy in life is your bills” Eric highlighted a subject that became the driving topic for this webinar. Instead of focusing fully on the negatives of startup life, both Eric and Sean offered their invaluable advice on how to solve problems that often crop up.
The webinar, which features real life scenarios and practical advice would be a great listen for anyone. However for those of you who don’t have time to give the webinar a full listen, I have compiled some of their most actionable tips for your small business.
1. Hiring the right person for the wrong job.
Hiring the right person can be a big challenge for any company, regardless of it’s size or success. In a startup environment it’s so important to make the right choice for both your company culture, it’s growth and your budget.
This may sound like an obvious suggestion to some, but you probably don’t need to hire as many people as you think. Finding one person with a broad set of skills over a single specialist can be a much more cost friendly solution. This one right person could help to streamline operations and save you from paying for 5 people instead of 1. While allowing you to keep your team small and your company culture unaltered.
The key is to realise that there are no rules about how you should hire, it’s more important to figure out what works for you and your team.
- Outsource what you’re not good at but do it wisely.
- Have a clear job description before you start hiring.
- Find someone you want to invest in and you can put them on courses to grow them and your business. You don’t always need a specialist in every field.
2. The shiny object effect.
Every startup needs to acknowledge the spending habits that could be killing your business, if you haven’t heard of the shiny object effect before now is the time to listen. Startups have a reputation for being “cool” places to work, it is in their nature to be more flexible, fun and rewarding places to work. A hard working environment that comes with certain perks.
Remember that while company culture is important for morale and how you brand is presented. In the early days of your startup it is often these perks or “shiny objects” that are making a small dent in your bank account. Consider what is a necessity and bring the “earn it” culture into your workplace.
This also goes for all those SaaS apps you’ve subscribed to, even though their individual cost may be low these services add up quickly. “It’s only $15” is a common phrase we use without recognising it’s implications. Eric rightly reminded those listening that these decisions don’t occur in a vacuum, they will impact your business.
- Track your monthly expenses and make a list.
- Evaluate your outgoings and cut anything that isn’t a necessity.
- If it doesn’t drive the mission of the business it’s not necessary right now.
- Look for apps which integrate features you want to use. So you can cut costs of having multiple apps.
3. Streamline operations.
The challenge for many small businesses is working out how to fully optimise the time and skills you have, as often these are limited. Streamlining your operations and processes is a great step for any business and will help you to achieve your goals for that day as quickly as possible.
- Find tools to accomplish low value tasks.
- Remember your “todo” is infinite but your time isn’t.
- Automate your processes.
4. Building a company and not just a product.
It is not uncommon to find that those just starting out will focus entirely on the development of their product. While it’s important to build a great product that people will A. Want to buy and B. Prove valuable to your customer. It’s also key to concentrate on the development of your company as a whole.
While there are many ways to build your company’s brand image, many will resort to gifting their customer. This ‘feel good’ tactic is used to engage with customers and encourage their excitement around your brand. Sean suggested empowering your customer and instead give them something to share with their peers and friends .
- Give customer’s something they can give away, a referral, a discount code.
- Follow through with actions that grow brand awareness and drives sales. Freebies can come later.
If you want to listen to the Webinar in full, you can find it here.
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