Starting a business from scratch and running it on your own is a wonderful learning experience. The entire journey of transforming your dreams into reality and actually seeing the success of that idea is wonderful. However, you can’t always call your venture a startup. After you achieve certain milestones, you will automatically move out of the startup phase.
When Amantha Imber, author of The Innovation Formula, was asked what, in her view, was the biggest challenge entrepreneurs had to face while scaling up their organisation, she said, “The biggest challenge I see entrepreneurs face is once they have a successful product in the market it becomes increasingly difficult to balance the need for incremental innovation of their current product with also continuing to pursue more disruptive forms of innovation.”
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Here are a few points that signal the end of your startup phase:
You have a company
You started out as a team of like-minded individuals who worked for a common goal. Now, you often refer to your team as your company . You now know whom to fire and hire. You have started thinking professionally in terms of rewards, motivations and team-building. In fact, rather than thinking about ‘bringing people on board’, you are now ‘hiring’ them.
You have a product and a plan
You are no longer just a dreamer but an actual doer. You have a product that you built with your team. Your ideas have successfully been transformed into reality, thus allowing you to think of new iterations and evolutions for your existing product.
In addition to this, you have a three to five year plan and know where you are headed. You are also aware of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that you should be hitting next.
You know your market
You have now come up with a product that customers want and are no longer shooting in the dark. Experience has made you a better leader and taught you how to create the best-suited product for the market. Thus, you are aware of the purchasing habits of the market and have tailored your product accordingly.
You attract funding
During the startup phase, you were keen to let your idea off the ground and hence spent most of your time building pitches for investors. However, now that you have proven yourself, people have started noticing your efforts. The ball is in your court now. You are clear about your funding basics—from seed funding to series A—and you know how to take the next best step forward.
You have fewer risks
While starting up, you had very little experience about what works and what doesn’t. You did not have a surplus of resources, instead only a few that had to be put to optimum use. Now that you have achieved your first few milestones of having a product, a motivated team and a solid business plan, the risks have reduced greatly.
You have the potential to scale up
You may have been worried about surviving during your early stages, but now you have started thinking about growing. You have also started planning your finances to increase the workplace, workforce, and of course, the production.
Do you identify with all these factors? Then go ahead and pat yourself on the back!