Funded startups that suddenly find themselves flush with cash need to know how to put it to good use to impress their investors and grow. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of stories of startups growing too fast and falling on their faces. 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.
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Women have come a long way in redefining beauty to be more inclusive of different body types, skin colors and hair styles, but society's beauty standards still remain as high as we have always known them to be. In the workplace, professionalism is directly linked to the appearance of both men and women, but for women, the expectations and requirements needed to fit the part are far stricter. Unlike men, there exists a direct correlation between beauty and respect that women are forced to acknowledge, and in turn comply with, in order to succeed.
Before stepping foot into the workforce, women who choose to opt out of conventional beauty and grooming regiments are immediately at a disadvantage. A recent Forbes article analyzing the attractiveness bias at work cited a comprehensive academic review for its study on the benefits attractive adults receive in the labor market. A summary of the review stated, "'Physically attractive individuals are more likely to be interviewed for jobs and hired, they are more likely to advance rapidly in their careers through frequent promotions, and they earn higher wages than unattractive individuals.'" With attractiveness and success so tightly woven together, women often find themselves adhering to beauty standards they don't agree with in order to secure their careers.
Complying with modern beauty standards may be what gets your foot in the door in the corporate world, but once you're in, you are expected to maintain your appearance or risk being perceived as unprofessional. While it may not seem like a big deal, this double standard has become a hurdle for businesswomen who are forced to fit this mold in order to earn respect that men receive regardless of their grooming habits. Liz Elting, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, is all too familiar with conforming to the beauty culture in order to command respect, and has fought throughout the course of her entrepreneurial journey to override this gender bias.
As an internationally-recognized women's advocate, Elting has made it her mission to help women succeed on their own, but she admits that little progress can be made until women reclaim their power and change the narrative surrounding beauty and success. In 2016, sociologists Jaclyn Wong and Andrew Penner conducted a study on the positive association between physical attractiveness and income. Their results concluded that "attractive individuals earn roughly 20 percent more than people of average attractiveness," not including controlling for grooming. The data also proves that grooming accounts entirely for the attractiveness premium for women as opposed to only half for men. With empirical proof that financial success in directly linked to women's' appearance, Elting's desire to have women regain control and put an end to beauty standards in the workplace is necessary now more than ever.
Although the concepts of beauty and attractiveness are subjective, the consensus as to what is deemed beautiful, for women, is heavily dependent upon how much effort she makes towards looking her best. According to Elting, men do not need to strive to maintain their appearance in order to earn respect like women do, because while we appreciate a sharp-dressed man in an Armani suit who exudes power and influence, that same man can show up to at a casual office in a t-shirt and jeans and still be perceived in the same light, whereas women will not. "Men don't have to demonstrate that they're allowed to be in public the way women do. It's a running joke; show up to work without makeup, and everyone asks if you're sick or have insomnia," says Elting. The pressure to look our best in order to be treated better has also seeped into other areas of women's lives in which we sometimes feel pressured to make ourselves up in situations where it isn't required such as running out to the supermarket.
So, how do women begin the process of overriding this bias? Based on personal experience, Elting believes that women must step up and be forceful. With sexism so rampant in workplace, respect for women is sometimes hard to come across and even harder to earn. "I was frequently assumed to be my co-founder's secretary or assistant instead of the person who owned the other half of the company. And even in business meetings where everyone knew that, I would still be asked to be the one to take notes or get coffee," she recalls. In effort to change this dynamic, Elting was left to claim her authority through self-assertion and powering over her peers when her contributions were being ignored. What she was then faced with was the alternate stereotype of the bitchy executive. She admits that teetering between the caregiver role or the bitch boss on a power trip is frustrating and offensive that these are the two options businesswomen are left with.
Despite the challenges that come with standing your ground, women need to reclaim their power for themselves and each other. "I decided early on that I wanted to focus on being respected rather than being liked. As a boss, as a CEO, and in my personal life, I stuck my feet in the ground, said what I wanted to say, and demanded what I needed – to hell with what people think," said Elting. In order for women to opt out of ridiculous beauty standards, we have to own all the negative responses that come with it and let it make us stronger– and we don't have to do it alone. For men who support our fight, much can be achieved by pushing back and policing themselves and each other when women are being disrespected. It isn't about chivalry, but respecting women's right to advocate for ourselves and take up space.
For Elting, her hope is to see makeup and grooming standards become an optional choice each individual makes rather than a rule imposed on us as a form of control. While she states she would never tell anyone to stop wearing makeup or dressing in a way that makes them feel confident, the slumping shoulders of a woman resigned to being belittled looks far worse than going without under-eye concealer. Her advice to women is, "If you want to navigate beauty culture as an entrepreneur, the best thing you can be is strong in the face of it. It's exactly the thing they don't want you to do. That means not being afraid to be a bossy, bitchy, abrasive, difficult woman – because that's what a leader is."