Funded startups that suddenly find themselves flush with cash need to know how to put it to good use to impress its investors and grow. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of stories of startups growing too fast and falling on their face. Young entrepreneurs rarely have the experience to allocate large amounts of funds, which can lead to slow, unnecessary purchases or overspending. Being able to properly and effectively distribute the investment will be critical to the future success of the young company.
1. Increase Staff
After receiving a major investment, most startups will immediately look to increase their workforce. Unfortunately, this can easily lead to overstaffing. While a strong sales team is important to increase revenue, the infrastructure and tools need to be in place before these employees can be effective. Hiring a balanced staff will provide far more benefits than overstaffing a single department to drive sales. (A robust sales team is of no use if the website crashes whenever a customer attempts to complete a purchase). Growing the business horizontally to establish a strong employee foundation will provide many long-term benefits, and can help prevent wasted capital.
2. Manage Finances
Building a dedicated accounting department is the best thing a startup can do to accurately monitoring expenses and revenues. This will give the young company a strong handle on where it is spending unnecessary funds, and it can identify which aspects of the business need more money. Also, it will provide a set of clean books, which will be indispensable for future growth projections and in attracting additional investors. A strong chief financial officer will hold the rapidly growing startup accountable for its purchases and investments to assist in understanding what makes the business profitable.
3. Continue Research
Investors want to see consistent progress and growth after that first round of funding, which is why startups should always invest in research and development. Whether it is fixing current systems or designing a new product, perfecting current offerings and/or developing new ones are essential to long-term, sustainable growth. Additionally, now more than ever, the user experience and design of the product and website contribute significantly to sales and customer loyalty. If your website or product have a poor design, you will find that it is difficult to retain customers.
4. Hire IT
Hiring tech support or an IT team, depending on your size, increases data security and decrease productivity loss due to technology down time. This dedicated group will ensure internal and external systems are properly maintained in working order, allowing the business to continue operating efficiently. In addition to avoiding potential downtime, an IT team will keep proprietary data and sensitive information safe from hackers. Depending on the industry, data encryption may be mandatory.
5. Ensure Legality
An important area that is frequently overlooked by startups is creating a proper legal department or ongoing partnership. Every startup will need legal advice, and with local, state and federal laws consistently changing, the need for legal guidance grows more important. Writing, reviewing and executing the necessary legal documentation can protect the budding business from any negative ramifications, as well as ensure growth is always on the right side of the law. If the startup relies on its intellectual property (IP), there is a strong need for consistent legal council to monitor and maintain a strong portfolio.
The best legal defense is prevention, and working with a qualified business attorney can reduce the chances of lengthy, expensive court battles.
6. Market Yourself
Depending on the stage of the startup, a marketing team can provide a significant boost to the bottom line of the company. These experts can create and run lead generation campaigns, Google Adwords, social media strategies, content marketing and vendor relations. All of which will increase the exposure of the business. A brand with little awareness will have trouble reaching its target audience without an apt marketing team that knows where to find its customers. Growing the presence of the brand and entering new markets will be critical to the development of the startup and to impressing investors.
7. Office Space
A rapidly growing business will need a new office to house all of its employees and equipment. When selecting the new location, there are several aspects that should be taken into consideration: size, projected growth, location and layout. Young companies often rent or purchase an office space that is too lavish or too large for their current stage. While they may want to feel like they have hit success, they do not have the sustainable revenue to fund their luxurious accommodations. Projected growth should also be considered when choosing a new office, but with a reasonable timeline and expectations so as to avoid straining resources. When seeking office space, the layout should be taken into consideration, as it can reinforce the culture of the business. A well-built office culture will also attract top talent, which will be key to the forward progress of the company.
Time is one of the most valuable resources to a startup, and spending those much-needed funds on areas that will increase efficiency can be highly rewarding. Rapidly growing startups frequently fall into the trap of overspending when they receive a large investment. However, this fear should not deter entrepreneurs from spending money, as some expenses are necessary and others can offer incredible benefits. The more efficient a startup can spend its money, the better it is positioned for long-term success. Working with current investors, partners and a qualified business attorney can poise a young startup for a healthy future, as these professionals will be able to offer invaluable insight - based on their unique skillsets - in key business decisions.
Not too many years ago, my advice to political candidates would have been pretty simple: "Don't do or say anything stupid." But the last few elections have rendered that advice outdated.
When Barack Obama referred to his grandmother as a "typical white woman" during the 2008 campaign, for example, many people thought it would cost him the election -- and once upon a time, it probably would have. But his supporters were focused on the values and positions he professed, and they weren't going to let one unwise comment distract them. Candidate Obama didn't even get much pushback for saying, "We're five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." That statement should have given even his most ardent supporters pause, but it didn't. It was in line with everything Obama had previously said, and it was what his supporters wanted to hear.
2016: What rules?
Fast forward to 2016, and Donald Trump didn't just ignore traditional norms, he almost seemed to relish violating them. Who would have ever dreamed we'd elect a man who talked openly about grabbing women by the **** and who was constantly blasting out crazy-sounding Tweets? But Trump did get elected. Why? Some people believe it was because Americans finally felt like they had permission to show their bigotry. Others think Obama had pushed things so far to the left that right-wing voters were more interested in dragging public policy back toward the middle than in what Trump was Tweeting.
Another theory is that Trump's lewd, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior was deliberately designed to make Democrats feel comfortable campaigning on policies that were far further to the left than they ever would have attempted before. Why? Because they were sure America would never elect someone who acted like Trump. If that theory is right, and Democrats took the bait, Trump's "digital policies" served him well.
And although Trump's brash style drew the most handlines, he wasn't the only one who seemed to have forgotten the, "Don't do or say anything stupid," rule. Hillary Clinton also made news when she made a "basket of deplorables" comment at a private fundraiser, but it leaked out, and it dogged her for the rest of the election cycle.
And that's where we need to start our discussion. Now that all the old rules about candidate behavior have been blown away, do presidential candidates even need digital policies?
Yes, they do. More than ever, in my opinion. Let me tell you why.
Digital policies for 2020 and beyond
While the 2016 election tossed traditional rules about political campaigns to the trash heap, that doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Even if it's just for the sake of consistency, candidates need digital policies for their own campaigns, regardless of what anybody else is doing. Here are some important things to consider.
Align your digital policies with your campaign strategy
Aside from all the accompanying bells and whistles, why do you want to be president? What ideological beliefs are driving you? If you were to become president, what would you want your legacy to be? Once you've answered those questions honestly, you can develop your campaign strategy. Only then can you develop digital policies that are in alignment with the overall purpose -- the "Why?" -- of your campaign:
- If part of your campaign strategy, for example, is to position yourself as someone who's above the fray of the nastiness of modern politics, then one of your digital policies should be that your campaign will never post or share anything that attacks another candidate on a personal level. Attacks will be targeted only at the policy level.
- While it's not something I would recommend, if your campaign strategy is to depict the other side as "deplorables," then one of your digital policies should be to post and share every post, meme, image, etc. that supports your claim.
- If a central piece of your platform is that detaining would-be refugees at the border is inhumane, then your digital policies should state that you will never say, post, or share anything that contradicts that belief, even if Trump plans to relocate some of them to your own city. Complaining that such a move would put too big a strain on local resources -- even if true -- would be making an argument for the other side. Don't do it.
- Don't be too quick to share posts or Tweets from supporters. If it's a text post, read all of it to make sure there's not something in there that would reflect negatively on you. And examine images closely to make sure there's not a small detail that someone may notice.
- Decide what your campaign's voice and tone will be. When you send out emails asking for donations, will you address the recipient as "friend" and stress the urgency of donating so you can continue to fight for them? Or will you personalize each email and use a more low-key, collaborative approach?
Those are just a few examples. The takeaway is that your online behavior should always support your campaign strategy. While you could probably get away with posting or sharing something that seems mean or "unpresidential," posting something that contradicts who you say you are could be deadly to your campaign. Trust me on this -- if there are inconsistencies, Twitter will find them and broadcast them to the world. And you'll have to waste valuable time, resources, and public trust to explain those inconsistencies away.
Remember that the most common-sense digital policies still apply
The 2016 election didn't abolish all of the rules. Some still apply and should definitely be included in your digital policies:
- Claim every domain you can think of that a supporter might type into a search engine. Jeb Bush not claiming www.jebbush.com (the official campaign domain was www.jeb2016.com) was a rookie mistake, and he deserved to have his supporters redirected to Trump's site.
- Choose your campaign's Twitter handle wisely. It should be obvious, not clever or cutesy. In addition, consider creating accounts with possible variations of the Twitter handle you chose so that no one else can use them.
- Give the same care to selecting hashtags. When considering a hashtag, conduct a search to understand its current use -- it might not be what you think! When making up new hashtags, try to avoid anything that could be hijacked for a different purpose -- one that might end up embarrassing you.
- Make sure that anyone authorized to Tweet, post, etc., on your behalf has a copy of your digital policies and understands the reasons behind them. (People are more likely to follow a rule if they understand why it's important.)
- Decide what you'll do if you make an online faux pas that starts a firestorm. What's your emergency plan?
- Consider sending an email to supporters who sign up on your website, thanking them for their support and suggesting ways (based on digital policies) they can help your messaging efforts. If you let them know how they can best help you, most should be happy to comply. It's a small ask that could prevent you from having to publicly disavow an ardent supporter.
- Make sure you're compliant with all applicable regulations: campaign finance, accessibility, privacy, etc. Adopt a double opt-in policy, so that users who sign up for your newsletter or email list through your website have to confirm by clicking on a link in an email. (And make sure your email template provides an easy way for people to unsubscribe.)
- Few people thought 2016 would end the way it did. And there's no way to predict quite yet what forces will shape the 2020 election. Careful tracking of your messaging (likes, shares, comments, etc.) will tell you if you're on track or if public opinion has shifted yet again. If so, your messaging needs to shift with it. Ideally, one person should be responsible for monitoring reaction to the campaign's messaging and for raising a red flag if reactions aren't what was expected.
Thankfully, the world hasn't completely lost its marbles
Whatever the outcome of the election may be, candidates now face a situation where long-standing rules of behavior no longer apply. You now have to make your own rules -- your own digital policies. You can't make assumptions about what the voting public will or won't accept. You can't assume that "They'll never vote for someone who acts like that"; neither can you assume, "Oh, I can get away with that, too." So do it right from the beginning. Because in this election, I predict that sound digital policies combined with authenticity will be your best friend.