Polish Your Company
Transforming your incubated idea into a full-blown business is no easy task. Many of the founders I advise and work with need help tackling this mighty metamorphosis. Founders are faced with funding rounds where the venture community weighs up your startup based on many aspects. What your company does, its market and reach, customers, revenue, growth, intellectual property and your team are all examined. These points are key considerations that every founder must give equal emphasis to.
However, the main focus as a founder is running your company. And here’s a little secret I’ve learnt. You need to polish and run your startup like a business from day one.
There are many advantages to this approach. It increases your professionalism with investors, giving them confidence in your business skills Because your venture is run like a real company, its evaluations will improve, and your startup will run that little bit smoother.
Here are a few ways to achieve this:
- Legal — a good business attorney provides vital assistance in a wide range of business aspects, from formal business incorporation, liability and lawsuits to basic zoning compliance, copyright and trademark advice. A startup should select a firm based on its real experience to enable startups. Don’t choose the cheapest option here as it will come back to burn you later. Be smart about what you use them for and realize this is a long term investment in your business.
- Banking — spend time understanding the pros and cons of what each bank offers. Your chosen bank needs to offer a complete business services package, tailored to your requirements, and must also have the time to fully understand the nuances of your business. They need to truly understand your business, and not just peddle the lines you see on their advertising campaigns or through word of mouth. sk a business banker to go for coffee with you and then challenge them on how they can help your business and how long have they been in this role. Interview them as you would with any other potential employee — it’s a vital business relationship to future proof your company.
- Accounting — you will need someone to help setup your business’s accounting basics, review your figures from time to time and prepare your company for all of the necessary federal, state and local tax returns. A good business accountant will also be on hand to offer advice to monitor your startup’s financial well being and ensure your business is running in the most tax efficient manner. Use a cloud-based accounting platform that is recognized and has a full bank reconciliation, reporting and API for developers (trust me, you will use it) such as Freshbooks, Quickbooks or Xero.
- Auditing — running a business means a lot of bookkeeping. Some businesses are required to have their books audited by an independent third party by their customers or lenders. An accountant can perform an audit, or provide reviews and complications, which comply with less strict regulations. Whether you use a professional accountant or not, audits are a great tool to monitor your startup and make sure expenditures aren’t getting silly as you seek to grow and succeed.
- Start doing monthly reviews of the business — from the first day of business, you should have a day set aside every 30 days where you review your company as a whole business entity. The major sections should be sales, marketing, product, strategy, upcoming events, people / talent and, of course, the financials. In my last company, we did this as a startup and even after acquisition. The deck contained more than 90 slides and was condensed down for the company-wide meeting. It was invaluable for the investors and team and served as a place to have a gut check of where we were and where we were going.
Finally, No managers just do’ers — it’s a great idea to hire in experts to help grow and develop your business. But don’t make the mistake of hiring 20 managers — make sure you hire people with individual specialisms, that will work to make your business succeed. The sort of individuals who’ll pitch in and work well as a team, not those that just want to take over your business.