As your startup grows, you are constantly faced with growth challenges. These challenges are generally all monumental in magnitude because one misstep can start you down a path in which your limited resources get wasted. These challenges occur daily. The solution is to occasionally step back and look at the bigger picture. There will be times when you change direction, times when you push forward even harder, and others when you must pull the chord and realize your idea simply didn't work.
That is the challenge of the founder.
In our case, we are a dating site for loans: we match borrowers with lenders and then they close their loan off our site. We are NOT a lender.
We are prioritizing four major growth areas:
The marketing of our site is our largest cost. In its simplest form, it is how we get people to know about us. It is done through a combination of Google AdWords, Google Search, various social media outlets, and news stories or TV spots (also called earned media). Small companies like us struggle to afford a company to do this for them. Competition in the marketplace, generally from companies who have been at it longer and are simply larger, is brutal and they can always outspend you in every demo. You must think of and explore guerrilla tactics and/or link with a larger company in some sort of strategic partnership (The Strategic Partnership: The Alternative to Venture Capital) to be successful. It is a maddening part of "the life."
The system infrastructure is basically a fancy term for building out all facets of your website, testing it, and making sure it works and it is stable. An unreliable and unprofessional looking website is the telltale sign of illegitimacy, or worse, untrustworthiness. And, if people have a less than positive experience on your site, they are unlikely to come back and even less likely to recommend it to others. This word of mouth is critical when you are new because users are reluctant to give sites second chances once their time has been wasted. It is even more critical to prioritize how each aspect of your site should be built out. What comes first and why is the reason prescient sages like Nostradamus get their due credit. You put the cart before the horse and your site is doomed. Step back and understand the big picture.
As you grow, you want to have the proper people in place. Of course, in the beginning you have no money to spend on personnel. All I can say is, if you are truly listening to the heartbeat of your company, you will inherently know when the time is right to spend that money on a new hire. My advice would be to hire earlier than you need because when you REALLY need that position, you want the person up to speed. Don't be cheap here.
Lastly, depending on how you can fund your startup, you will need to have a solid relationship with your investor(s). While they come in many different forms, my advice is to be as transparent as humanly possible. When things go sideways, tell them. When things are knocked out of the park, let them know. Fostering the relationship and keeping the dialogue open and honest is ALWAYS the best policy with your investors... period!
The problem is, these and a slew of other less monumental items happen all at once. Prioritizing them and deciding when to go full throttle and when to pump the brakes is a gift one must acquire. It is very difficult and you WILL make mistakes... everyone does.
Keep pounding... the boulders eventually become sand.
This post originally appeared on The Whole Magilla and was written by Chris Meyer, co-founder of MagillaLoans.com.