Shooting for the stars
Science Of The Lift
Your business can survive almost anything with a strong business case, so start here. How can you, and how will you serve your market? Consider four critical dimensions in answering this question; desirability, feasibility, viability, and responsibility. Great businesses are always considering PMF, their technology, the business, and CSR respectively. Achieving alignment in these four dimensions is the foundation of building a rocket ship. Achieving lift from its launchpad will require much more, however. The knowledge areas covered on this page provide the necessary engineering to propel your rocket to the moon. Master each and head for the stars.We Can Help
Business Requirements (3 Dimensions)
No matter how good your business case is, you'll need strong pistons to propel it forward. Consider these three dimensions; industries, sales, and service. Each of these pistons requires multiple fuel sources. Penetration into industries might require attending events, forming partnerships, etc. Sales teams need sales aids, CRMs, marketing support, etc. Service teams need production support, training, etc.We Can Help
The best way to succeed in your business is to plan for that success. Organizations should develop a business plan and then plot the execution of that plan into numerous models. Typically organizations would have a one-year, three-year, and five-year plan. Each plan should contain conservative, moderate, and aggressive models. New businesses should understand their breakeven dates and funding requirements based on any model. All models should contain reports on cash flow, profit & loss, balance sheet, financial summary, overhead, inventory, etc. And all reports should update with each model accordingly, providing a perspective of future outlooks.We Can Help
Whether a modest dream to start your own small business or a grand idea to change the world, a single truth presents itself; you're going to need some capital to get it off the ground. One of your first projects in starting your business is developing a clear picture of how much funding you'll need to launch and grow a profitable business. The process is meticulous, leaving no financial details uncovered when understanding your business' operational expenses, COGs, sales projections, revenue forecasts, procurement and supply chain, talent acquisition, etc. It is common for significantly more money to initially go into the business than comes out the other end. However, once your business gains traction, you will hit a breakeven date and recoup the investment into the organization - Then it's off to the moon!We Can Help
The best shot you can give your startup's chance to succeed is starting with a great team. You may be the only piston in the engine once forming your idea, but you're going to need a team to turn that engine on and get it moving. Consider the skills and expertise demanded to get the business off the ground, what strengths you bring to the table, and where gaps remain. A well-rounded team will typically address demands in the following essential competencies; operations, technology, security, financial, administrative, business, etc. How many hats can a single founder wear? Do you need a co-founder/s to occupy additional seats? Figure out your needs early and plan to move outstanding leadership into positions so that your engine is firing on all cylinders.We Can Help
A valuable output of your business plan is the transparency it provides on human resource demands. Bringing on talent (and at what level of expertise) can be a bit of a dance. You'll need to plan thoughtfully. The good news is that your needs should be pretty straightforward once you've modeled out your one-year, three-year, and five-year business model, as it should include your hiring plans. Depending on your business use case, the demands will vary. Whether that means heavy hiring of executive leaders, production staff, or administrators, it's a balance that you'll need to factor. A hint - you should always consider structure when scaling (departments, divisions, teams, and management roles throughout) to ensure you'll build well-supported foundations and pillars throughout the organization to sustain its success. Failure to do so can result in collapse. Use your business plan as your primary resource and plot your recruiting cycles accordingly. An easy place to start is to look at each quarter in your business forecast and determine what talent you'll need to introduce in that phase of recruiting (and the time it will take to win that talent based on the role).We Can Help
Resource Allocation Management
Every organization should know precisely how much time and effort it takes to deliver a product or service. This is especially true for service-based businesses. It should know how the work effort is divided, who is carrying out the work, when those resources are needed and when they will be released, and at what cost to the business — this transparency arms organizations with the data needed to carefully allocate workloads to its teams. Avoid uneven distribution of work, balance the load, and prevent staff burnout.We Can Help
Human Resource Modeling
Once an organization understands the work effort required for every service and effectively manages workloads across teams, it will need to model out the resource needs to maintain healthy operations. Modeling refers to projecting the addition of future staff to your team. The projections should account for empirical business insights and numerous KPI variables, including future sales targets, recruiting timelines, employee churn, and the amount of tolerable buffer in production capacity the organization can withstand while maintaining profitability.We Can Help
A well-thought-out structure of your organization creates the necessary foundational pillars from which to grow your business and contributes to the healthy mechanics of cross-functional teams. Whether a flat, hierarchal, or other variances of organizational structure, the appropriate form will depend on the stage of your business and its strategic growth plans. Star ups will typically start lean with critical roles bringing multiple competencies to bear before segregating into more specialized seats as the organization scales.We Can Help
Standard Operating Procedures
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) is not just a quirky operational term for how you fulfill services. It has profound impacts on the business. Ensuring repeatable processes are well documented and resourced aids in providing quality of work, allows for effective management, uncovers areas to improve the services, eliminates confusion, keeps your production team happy, etc. And only through repetition can organizations expose patterns and unveil opportunities to realize improved efficiency in delivery.We Can Help
An apparent truth, you can't serve (or enter) a market without a product. Product Development is a natural component of serving industries. When innovation satisfies feasibility, desirability, viability, and responsibility, you'll then have to develop the service end-to-end, including how it is sold, the process for producing and delivering the product, retail price design, margin modeling, etc. Additionally, great products are never introduced to markets and abandoned. Instead, they are nurtured, iterated, and often enough, reimagined. Product development can be as simple as improving an existing process, building new features, launching new product versions, or developing entirely new products from the ground up.
Project Management is an essential competency for any organization. Executing the proper PM methodologies for any endeavor in any industry is key to delivering on objectives with high-quality outputs. Adding strong project management proficiency to your startup could not be more critical to its success. Most startups will need to consider their predictive/fixed project deadlines and adaptive projects and execute waterfall or agile project management methodologies accordingly. Thus, building a business is a series of carefully planned endeavors where PM skills will significantly benefit the development process's efficiency, quality, and execution.
Product Management is a competency that combines knowledge and proven practices that nurture products once they are brought to life, strengthening and building them up as they age. Effective stewardship of your product offering means regularly engaging all stakeholders, gathering insights, soliciting feedback, and synthesizing all inputs into meaningful product enhancement roadmaps. Product Management's primary focus is to increase the product's value by learning from mistakes, identifying conformance needs, innovating, and optimizing the lifecycle of sales, to service, to close.
Growing too slow? Growing too fast? Either can surely break a business. Scaling a business is a precise and delicate balance of multiple business and operational acumens converging to support an organization's growth objectives. It's a meticulous ongoing calibration of maintaining market relevance and meeting market demands profitably. Recruiting talent, placing the right seats into position at the right time, providing the support your teams need, and infrastructure to support increased operations are only scratching the surface.We Can Help
The appropriate systems integration throughout your business has far too many implications for delineating here. Nonetheless, consider what systems are needed to support healthy operations; company email, appointment scheduling, conference systems, project management platforms, team collaboration and communication systems, CRMs, SOP repositories, invoicing and accounting systems, etc. And implicit in "stack" is that these systems should align on top of one another, integrating as vertically as possible to improve communication between them where needed and improve efficiency.We Can Help
A key to your start-up's success is your product offering. Nearly every consideration your organization has revolves around your product. Naturally, you should have a product development strategy that plans to ship products to market on time, under budget, and at specification. This often means planning your MVP launch and future Alpha/Beta releases against a strategic calendar. Your roadmap should key in on the stage of your products, including research and ideation, introduction, growth, maturity, and when to retire/sunset products. The product roadmap should be a living and well-maintained resource that receives constant input, evaluation, and calibration based on internal and external factors around your business and the market.
Developing pricing is one of the most critical proficiencies you'll need to get right as an organization. It's easy to eat into project margins - This is particularly true for service-based businesses; there is no project management controlling the project and managing stakeholders; review and approval phases seem never-ending; projects don't close with clean breaks; customers keep demanding more (scope creep). Project management can address much of this, but it has little use if the prices are not correct in the first place. Consider that proving the service is only a fraction of the cumulative time it takes for an organization to complete all of its work. Often, there is much more time spent outside of day-to-day tasks, onboard customers, gathering and curating assets from external stakeholders, communicating regularly with the client, etc. Ensure clients pay for all phases and process groups that deliver completed work or products.We Can Help
Organizations should consider their one-time products and service sales that generate cash flow in addition to recurring services that could stabilize the business. Should you restructure existing SKUs into subscription-based models? Should you build catalogs of add-on products to existing products to further extend their value? What white-label SaaS products might be right up your team's lane to service and support? The products you develop should be road mapped into your organization's sales goals and P&L as a deliberate and prudent business objective.We Can Help
Market research can help you measure your product-market fit. A SWOT analysis helps organizations target industries that align with their core proficiencies and their ability to service the market. The result should place your business somewhere along the spectrum of a broad and shallow generalist or narrow and deep specialist within the industries you serve. Once you demonstrated an ability to serve a market profitably, consider what it takes to enter additional verticles and build new strengths accordingly while limiting risks.We Can Help
Your brand is how the market identifies you. It's not just your logo. It's about understanding your purpose, who you are, what you do, how you do it, and who you serve along the way. Consider how your business engages your community and the culture it creates for its employees. And since we can't escape talking about logos, understandably, be inspired by successful brands that resonate with you. Often overlooked in logo design, be sure to introduce a versatile logo that distributes well to all canvases despite where it finds itself (on letterhead, business cards, uniforms, websites, billboards, bumper stickers, etc.).We Can Help
An exceptional online presence can fuel the success of a start-up. Ensuring that your audience can find you is a great way to establish brand awareness. This also means ensuring major search engines can find you and favor your content. With a polished website, you can begin demonstrating expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) with search engines and start outranking your competitors. And with well over 50% of all online traffic now coming from mobile devices, prioritizing mobile design is way more than having a responsive or mobile-friendly website; it means having finely-tuned and uniquely tailored mobile experiences for every device. And while we would never discourage your cousin or niece/nephew from getting a side web project, know that your website is not the place to cut a corner. Ensure that your brand is represented professionally and credibly. You're going to be working extremely hard on your business - don't let your website ruin your credibility and work against you.
Startups should consistently recruit even the talent they've already hired. Develop transparent and thoughtful career track programs that invest in their skills development and support their growth. Ensure you have a standardized and comfortable onboarding for every role and skill level. Uncover strengths and gaps in knowledge or skill and tailor training accordingly. Empower your team to learn and grow together. Continue to attract and invest in your talent by furthering education through courses, certification programs, and fostering mentorships. Consider developing incubators and internal startups that allow your most talented rockstars to flex their genius - Hence, reduce your talent feeling they have to leave your organization to grow or pursue ambitions where those ambitions might otherwise align with the organization. And when they have outgrown the organization, commission a grand ceremony of their graduation that demonstrates your gratitude for all they have done and do all that you can to help them succeed in their new ventures. Be the organization that is intentional about building careers.We Can Help