I’m naturally a go, go, go person. But I tell any start-up team to make sure that when we start, we feel confident we’re marching down the right path and be prepared to make micro-adjustments along the way. Just a tiny pivot in anything from the go-to-market strategy to what the technology is going to do can make a huge difference.

I also tell them that it’s easy to spend money, but conversely, it’s hard to make money. We need to treat every dollar as a precious dollar and think about it that way with balance. The balance is that you don’t want to save the wrong money either. It’s critical to spend wisely.

In the head-to-market phase of a new business, there is a lot to do. Here are three essential things to get right, right from the start.

1 – Look and Feel Bigger Than You Are

One of the biggest things is to build credibility as quickly as possible. So how do you get credibility in a hurry? You gain credibility by looking and feeling a lot bigger than you are. A big part of that is excellent branding right from the start.

For example, when somebody is looking at your email signature, the branding on Zoom, and any other forward-facing things, you should look like you’re a Fortune 500 company. It doesn’t take that much to do it. But you do need to get it right. It’s the start of building trust and credibility.

Another example is that your elevator pitch must be good. You need a 30-second elevator pitch: a three-minute elevator pitch and a 10-minute elevator discussion. Your messaging needs to be consistent across your whole team. How you talk about your business is important. Start by compiling an extensive list of soundbites that support your premise. Find the things indisputable from the most credible sources that validate the problem you’re going to solve. Once you have all of those, use them to support a clear and convincing argument for why what you’re doing is important.

2 – Find MVP Beta Partners

Next on the list of critical tasks is to find an MVP beta partner early. They bring credibility and knowledge about dealing with your primary business problem daily. They can help you think through the things you don’t yet know enough about. It goes back to the old saying, “I don’t have all the answers, and most of the time, I don’t even have the questions.” An MVP beta partner not only has the questions, but they have most of the answers. As a result, they can seriously ramp up your operation by moving you through the trial-and-error process without most of the errors. Plus, they bring enormous credibility to your organization.

3 – Build the Organization Chart Early and Update It Often

I always force my early-stage investments to build an organization chart at the very beginning. It’s important to consider what type of staffing you need and how it should be organized.

New businesses always require a level of strategic agility and constant tactical refinement.

If you don’t take this step, particularly if your business grows quickly, people find they need help. That’s followed by grabbing someone, anyone, to help you get the work done. Eventually, you wake up, look around, and ask, what are all these people doing? That, in turn, brings on an inevitable reorganization.

Instead, you need to bring some current and long-range structure to the organization by thinking about what it should be when it’s big. I preach this at every quarterly review, asking what the updated organization chart tells us? Eventually, they understand its importance.

One solution to some early-stage staffing challenges is to hire contractors for those key jobs that don’t yet require a full-time position. For instance, in the earliest days, you don’t have enough work for a full-time recruiter, legal counsel, regulatory compliance officer, or any number of similar tasks.

Over time, as your business and the work grow, you’ll find that the cost of the contractors has expanded to the point that it justifies bringing the work in-house. The further benefit is that now you know exactly who and what you need.

Setting the stage for intelligent growth and success takes a great deal of work and forethought. Still, these fundamental elements are relatively easy to achieve from the get-go and can save you time and money when they’re your most precious commodities.

July 20, 2022 by Scott Sohr