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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"Steal the mesh underwear you get from the hospital," a friend said upon learning I was pregnant with my first daughter.
It was the single best piece of advice I received before giving birth in December 2013. My best friend delivered her daughter eight months previously, and she was the first to pass along this shared code among new moms: you'll need mesh underwear for your at-home postpartum recovery, and you can't find them anywhere for purchase. End result: steal them. And tell your friends.
My delivery and subsequent recovery were not easy. To my unexpected surprise, after almost 24 hours of labor, I had an emergency C-section. Thankfully, my daughter was healthy; however, my recovery was quite a journey. The shock to my system caused my bloated and swollen body to need weeks of recovery time. Luckily, I had trusted my friend and followed her instructions: I had stolen some mesh underwear from the hospital to bring home with me.
Unfortunately, I needed those disposable underwear for much longer than I anticipated and quickly ran out. As I still wasn't quite mobile, my mother went to the store to find more underwear for me. Unfortunately, she couldn't find them anywhere and ended up buying me oversized granny panties. Sure, they were big enough, but I had to cut the waistband for comfort.
I eventually recovered from my C-section, survived those first few sleepless months, and returned to work. At the time, I was working for a Fortune 100 company and happily contributing to the corporate world. But becoming a new mom brought with it an internal struggle and search for something “more" out of my life--a desire to have a bigger impact. A flashback to my friend's golden piece of advice got me thinking: Why aren't mesh underwear readily available for women in recovery? What if I could make the magical mesh underwear available to new moms everywhere? Did I know much about designing, selling, or marketing clothing? Not really. But I also didn't know much about motherhood when I started that journey, either, and that seemed to be working out well. And so, Brief Transitions was born.
My quest began. With my manufacturing and engineering background I naively thought, It's one product. How hard could it be? While it may not have been “hard," it definitely took a lot of work. I slowly started to do some research on the possibilities. What would it take to start a company and bring these underwear to market? How are they made and what type of manufacturer do I need? With each step forward I learned a little more--I spoke with suppliers, researched materials, and experimented with packaging. I started to really believe that I was meant to bring these underwear to other moms in need.
Then I realized that I needed to learn more about the online business and ecommerce world as well. Google was my new best friend. On my one hour commute (each way), I listened to a lot of podcasts to learn about topics I wasn't familiar with--how to setup a website, social media platforms, email marketing, etc. I worked in the evenings and inbetween business trips to plan what I called Execution Phase. In 2016, I had a website with a Shopify cart up and running. I also delivered my second daughter via C-section (and handily also supplied myself with all the mesh underwear I needed).
They say, “If you build it, they will come." But I've learned that the saying should really go more like this: “If you build it, and tell everyone about it, they might come." I had a 3-month-old, an almost 3 year old and my business was up and running. I had an occasional sale; however, my processes were extremely manual and having a day job while trying to ship product out proved to be challenging. I was manually processing and filling orders and then going to the post office on Saturday mornings to ship to customers. I eventually decided to go where the moms shop...hello, Amazon Prime! I started to research what I needed to do to list products with Amazon and the benefits of Amazon fulfillment (hint: they take care of it for you).
Fast forward to 2018...
While I started to build this side business and saw a potential for it to grow way beyond my expectations, my corporate job became more demanding with respect to travel and time away from home. I was on the road 70% of the time during first quarter 2018. My normally “go with the flow" 4-year-old started to cry every time I left for a trip and asked why I wasn't home for bedtime. That was a low point for me and even though bedtime with young kids has its own challenges, I realized I didn't want to miss out on this time in their lives. My desire for more scheduling flexibility and less corporate travel time pushed me to work the nights and weekends needed to build and scale my side hustle to a full-time business. If anyone tries to tell you it's “easy" to build “passive" income, don't believe them. Starting and building a business takes a lot of grit, hustle and hard work. After months of agonizing, changing my mind, and wondering if I should really leave my job (and a steady paycheck!), I ultimately left my corporate job in April 2018 to pursue Brief Transitions full-time.
In building Brief Transitions, I reached out to like-minded women to see if they were experiencing similar challenges to my own--balancing creating and building a business while raising children--and I realized that many women are on the quest for flexible, meaningful work. I realized that we can advance the movement of female entrepreneurs by leveraging community to inspire, empower, and connect these trailblazers. For that reason, I recently launched a new project, The Transitions Collective, a platform for connecting community-driven women entrepreneurs.
As is the case with many entrepreneurs, I find myself working on multiple projects at a time. I am now working on a members-only community for The Transitions Collective that will provide access to experts and resources for women who want to leave corporate and work in their business full-time. Connecting and supporting women in this movement makes us a force in the future of work. At the same time, I had my most profitable sales quarter to date and best of all, I am able to drop my daughter off at school in the morning.
Mesh underwear started me on a journey much bigger than I ever imagined. They sparked an idea, ignited a passion, and drove me to find fulfillment in a different type of work. That stolen underwear was just the beginning.