If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re going to face growth challenges. Getting your startup off the ground and making your first few sales are milestones to be celebrated. But beyond this, a whole new set of challenges await: how do you effectively scale your company for sustainability?
One of our Venture Acceleration Program alumni – Shanil Gunasekara, Founder of eTreatMD – offers up some key lessons learned from growing his startup into a successful business. eTreatMD’s team of 14 offers a medical app with a user base from 5 countries around the world.
Whether you’re curious about getting into med-tech or looking for strategies on how navigate growth, here are Shanil’s 5 biggest lessons learned from scaling his startup:
Get clear on your goals and targets.
Make sure you’ve outlined an end-game for every phase of the business. Always ask, what are you scaling towards? I found it helpful to define our company’s target valuation clearly and the milestones required to justify it in the same way a VC would.
You’ll need to focus on meeting sales and revenue targets while outlining innovation and compliance goals to ensure a well-balanced approach. This will give your entire team a goal to strive towards – my team thrives on knowing how each of their roles and achievements help the company get closer to an end-game we’re all aligned on.
Trust the process. Empower your team to do what they do best.
Create procedures for the ‘simple’ things… bookkeeping, accounting, grant and proposal writing, weekly meetings, etc. During growth stage, it’s often worth outsourcing tasks that fall outside of your team’s core skillset. By letting an outside expert handle accounting our team was able to focus on what they do best. In the early stage of your company, there may be some areas of the business you tend to put less priority on, but as you grow it becomes more important to address each area of your business with due care and attention.
Get the right people on board, at the right time.
I am very passionate about talent, recruitment and team building. It can be challenging to find the right people at the right price when building a startup. I’ve found it very important to have a plan and role description defined before beginning the search. This could mean creating your sales strategy based on up-to-date market research before hiring a sales associate. It could mean doing the work to decide on the ideal composition of your technical team (front-end, back-end, administration, support, or interns?) before making the first hire.
Also, have a goal of when you will make the last hire. I’ve found that staggering hires puts a constant burden on the team to train and integrate new staff. If possible, hire multiple roles at the same time to capitalize on a shared onboarding process. Few things are as compromising to a business as an incomplete team – deadlines get pushed back, bugs slip through the cracks, milestones are left unmet. Being intentional about your hiring strategy is really important.
Mentors make a difference.
Not all of us may have access to great mentors but make a point to build an advisory board. This especially helps to fill in any gaps on your management team. If cash is tight you could incentivize your board members with stock options, but make sure they have the time to dedicate to your business before signing them up. Investors at this stage will be less forgiving about skill gaps in a management team, so you need dedicated people on board. Getting an outside perspective looking in on our business helped in ways beyond what I could have imagined – not only with setting the long-term strategy, but also identifying inefficiencies in our day-to-day operations.
Generating early revenue and traction with med-tech requires creativity.
Faster isn’t always better, but it usually is. Think of ways to introduce your product to customers early. For example, you could release a stripped-down, non-medical version of your product first, or sign clients up for a pilot. In the meantime, your regulatory and QA team can continue to navigate the approval process for the medical components of your technology.
You’ll likely have to get creative when it comes to generating revenue early. Building a SaaS med-tech business like ours takes time and significant resources. Consider whether licensing your IP could improve short-term cash flow while building your marketing and sales team. In some cases, leveraging an IP licensing strategy is lucrative enough to completely shift your business model. It won’t work for every med-tech business, but it’s also a strong way to validate the value of your IP beyond just a patent.
Do you have a growing tech company and need help navigating next steps?
Whether you’re looking to fill your sales pipeline, get custom advice for your marketing plan or connect with a seasoned mentor, Wavefront offers the training and support you need at affordable rates.
We’re currently accepting applications for the RevUP Program, geared towards those navigating high growth, as well as the Venture Acceleration Program, for those just getting their tech business started.
Apply before February 21 to be considered!