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.
Women of the Middle East have made significant strides in the past decade in a number of sectors, but huge gaps remain within the labor market, especially in leadership roles.
A huge number of institutions have researched and quantified trends of and obstacles to the full utilization of females in the marketplace. Gabriela Ramos, is the Chief-of-Staff to The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an alliance of thirty-six governments seeking to improve economic growth and world trade. The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.
To realize the possibilities, attention needs to be directed toward the most significantly underutilized resource: the women of MENA—the Middle East and North African countries. Educating the men of MENA on the importance of women working and holding leadership roles will improve the economies of those nations and lead to both national and global rewards, such as dissolving cultural stereotypes.
The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.
In order to put this issue in perspective, the MENA region has the second highest unemployment rate in the world. According to the World Bank, more women than men go to universities, but for many in this region the journey ends with a degree. After graduating, women tend to stay at home due to social and cultural pressures. In 2017, the OECD estimated that unemployment among women is costing some $575 billion annually.
Forbes and Arabian Business have each published lists of the 100 most powerful Arab businesswomen, yet most female entrepreneurs in the Middle East run family businesses. When it comes to managerial positions, the MENA region ranks last with only 13 percent women among the total number of CEOs according to the Swiss-based International Labor Organization (ILO.org publication "Women Business Management – Gaining Momentum in the Middle East and Africa.")
The lopsided tendency that keeps women in family business—remaining tethered to the home even if they are prepared and capable of moving "into the world"—is noted in a report prepared by OECD. The survey provides factual support for the intuitive concern of cultural and political imbalance impeding the progression of women into the workplace who are otherwise fully capable. The nations of Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt all prohibit gender discrimination and legislate equal pay for men and women, but the progressive-sounding checklist of their rights fails to impact on "hiring, wages or women's labor force participation." In fact, the report continues, "Women in the six countries receive inferior wages for equal work… and in the private sector women rarely hold management positions or sit on the boards of companies."
This is more than a feminist mantra; MENA's males must learn that they, too, will benefit from accelerating the entry of women into the workforce on all levels. Some projections of value lost because women are unable to work; or conversely the amount of potential revenue are significant.
Elissa Freiha, founder of Womena, the leading empowerment platform in the Middle East, emphasizes the financial benefit of having women in high positions when communicating with men's groups. From a business perspective it has been proven through the market Index provider MSCI.com that companies with more women on their boards deliver 36% better equity than those lacking board diversity.
She challenges companies with the knowledge that, "From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies."
Freiha agrees that educating MENA's men will turn the tide. "It is difficult to argue culturally that a woman can disconnect herself from the household and community." Her own father, a United Arab Emirates native of Lebanese descent, preferred she get a job in the government, but after one month she quit and went on to create Womena. The fact that this win-lose situation was supported by an open-minded father, further propelled Freiha to start her own business.
"From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies." - Elissa Frei
While not all men share the open-mindedness of Freiha's dad, a striking number of MENA's women have convincingly demonstrated that the talent pool is skilled, capable and all-around impressive. One such woman is the prominent Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi, who is currently serving as a cabinet minister in the United Arab Emirates and previously headed a successful IT strategy company.
Al-Qasimi exemplifies the potential for MENA women in leadership, but how can one example become a cultural norm? Marcello Bonatto, who runs Re: Coded, a program that teaches young people in Turkey, Iraq and Yemen to become technology leaders, believes that multigenerational education is the key. He believes in the importance of educating the parent along with their offspring, "particularly when it comes to women." Bonatto notes the number of conflict-affected youth who have succeeded through his program—a boot camp training in technology.
The United Nations Women alongside Promundo—a Brazil-based NGO that promotes gender-equality and non-violence—sponsored a study titled, "International Men and Gender Equality Survey of the Middle East and North Africa in 2017."
This study surveyed ten thousand men and women between the ages of 18 and 59 across both rural and urban areas in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority. It reports that, "Men expected to control their wives' personal freedoms from what they wear to when the couple has sex." Additionally, a mere one-tenth to one-third of men reported having recently carried out a more conventionally "female task" in their home.
Although the MENA region is steeped in historical tribal culture, the current conflict of gender roles is at a crucial turning point. Masculine power structures still play a huge role in these countries, and despite this obstacle, women are on the rise. But without the support of their nations' men this will continue to be an uphill battle. And if change won't come from the culture, maybe it can come from money. By educating MENA's men about these issues, the estimated $27 trillion that women could bring to their economies might not be a dream. Women have been empowering themselves for years, but it's time for MENA's men to empower its women.