13 July 2016

Innovation and Start-Ups: Driving a start-up into a mature business

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We're all a little guilty of crossing our fingers and hoping for the best but when it comes to opening a Start-Up we need a little bit more than that.

The Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull is a great fan of “innovation.” It's a great buzzword but for a start-up hungry economy it doesn’t really mean much at all, unless you've got a clear and well researched pathway ahead of you.

Being innovative is all well and good but the eventual realisation is, for a Start Up to become a major player in the economy, your business needs to be around long enough to mature. And with business maturity comes the setting in of innovation killers, or procedures.

Developing procedures, when you’re a start-up, is usually not high on the priority list. Getting in and getting the doors open; your first customers through the door are more important than ‘how the company order stationary’ or ‘how much social media time is too much time, on company time’?

These sort of details are usually left until later. And with the wait comes the complication of developing and enforcing ‘rules’ when the company has always been a bit too cool for them.

The sobering facts about start-ups are; approximately 95% of them fail within the first twelve months of opening. Developing a list of procedures won't prevent your organisation from failing, but they will provide you with a much clearer path to see where danger lies.

"One thing is certain in business. You and everyone around you will make mistakes"
Sir Richard Branson

Developing an app, or opening a funky hipster cereal bar is fine if that is where your passion takes you; but you need to do your homework first.

However, opening a start-up requires careful and considered planning. Given the statistics if you jump in without a safety net, you run the risk of failing before you even start.

Bill Gates, one of the world’s most successful business leaders had this to say regarding failure;

It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

And one of the greatest inventors in the world’s history, Thomas Edison, was famously quoted as saying; ‘I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work,’ when discussing the invention of the light globe.'

Let’s be honest here, procedures are boring. They’re not exciting, they’re not glamourous. They’re the day-to-day, do we really have to, kind of thing. But without them your business has no real foundation. You don’t’ start building a house by buying the carpeting. You start of by laying a strong foundation, and making sure all the walls meet the roof.

Starting a business is no different to any other form of endeavour. If your foundation is uneven (or wobbly) your long-term plans don’t mean anything. It’s much easier to fit the pieces together to begin with than it is to realign an already constructed business.

If the people in your enterprise (whether new hires or just a bunch of friends starting out initially) don’t know what they’re responsible for, nor do they know what needs to be done in a given situation you’re going to find yourselves adrift and making it up as you go along.

No one who really expects their business to have longevity starts their new enterprise without a clear business plan. Knowing where you are heading is of great importance when the initial excitement is replaced by staffing issues, office issues, whether you’ve got enough toilet paper or whose turn is it to supply the coffee.

Taking the time to draft and plan your organisations procedures early on, means ultimately you have a clearer and firmer foundation for your company and staff.

With everyone moving in the same direction you’ve got a much better chance of long-term success and doing better than 95% of organisations who open their doors on the same day you do.

Mike Cullen has recently returned to Akolade after a period as the conference producer for one of Australia's leading economic think tanks. Mike began working in the conference industry in 2007 after looking for a career change from the high pressured world of inbound customer service. Mike has worked for some of the most well-known conference and media companies in the B2B space and in his spare time is working on his first novel in a planned Epic Fantasy trilogy.

Mike’s most recently published story, Seeds of Eden, is featured in the Sproutlings Anthology released in March 2016. 

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