How to grow a successful business beyond the startup stage
Launched a business and now find yourself wondering what next? Read advice from an experienced business owner on how to move beyond the startup stage, and grow a successful business.
In 2016, as many as 25% of adults in the UK said they wanted to start a business (this figure rises to 70% between the ages of 25-34). But what happens once the doors – real or virtual – to your business are finally open? How do you avoid becoming one of the 50% of startup businesses that apparently fail in the first two years?
Today, Ecigwizard is one of the largest stockists of electronic cigarettes and e-liquids in the UK and Europe. But they too were once a tiny, inexperienced startup. In this article, they share the biggest lessons they have learned in growing a successful business form the ground up, with personal experiences from their Director Oliver Warburton.
So if you’re in post-launch comedown, and are wondering, now the excitement of bringing your exciting business idea to life has worn off, ‘what next?’ read on.
Find and nurture the right people
It’s not hard to find people to work for you. But finding the right staff that fit within your company’s ethos is much tougher.
So when you’re recruiting, don’t just look for the skills you need – hire the right personality, values and attitude too. And don’t overlook your staff once you find them. Help them to understand (even live) your brand, and keep building on their skill set.
And once you’ve found and trained brilliant star, make sure you delegate effectively to them. As directors, it’s easy to try and do everything yourself and take control of every aspect of the business. However, you can’t do everything, so focus on the areas of business that really need your expertise, and delegate or outsource the rest.
Read more on finding and keeping employees:
- Eight ways to retain valuable employees
- How to keep your employees happy – and boost productivity
- Five HR tips to help you hire the right people
- Where to go when you need to outsource
Set the foundations and then make time to grow
Once the fundamentals of your business are in place and you have survived the start- up process, it is time to grow your brand. It is easy to go gung ho but it is key in the success of your business to hold back at times and follow a well-planned strategy. Always be mindful of budgets and remember that finances have to be healthy.
Play the long game
It’s very tempting, when you run your own business, to work seven days a week. Impatient for success, you tell yourself that the faster you get things done, the quicker you’ll grow and the sooner you’ll reap the rewards of your efforts.
But too often, the only thing working relentlessly rewards you with is burnout. Instead, you need to play the long game and balance productive, efficient work with downtime and family life, confident that you’ll get to where you want in good time.
As Oliver Warburton says:
“I used to work hard on a Monday and expect a reward the same day, but it doesn’t work like that. The projects I am working on today, will come to fruition in six, 12 maybe even 18 months’ time.
The biggest discipline I have learnt in our success is that of delayed gratification. I.e. putting the hard work and effort in today for tomorrow, not now. You have to be incredibly patient and wait for success to come later on.
I see this clearly in people now – those that aren’t blinded by instant gratification and are prepared to work hard and wait are those that find their way to success.”
Build on your initial success
At some point you’ll get to a point where just being around isn’t enough to grow any bigger. As Warburton recalls, when launching Ecigwizard laying the initial groundwork was surprisingly easy:
“Setting up a website these days is a lot easier than it was. You can jump on social media right away and start building a customer base. Going back five years ago, in under six months we had built a business turning over more than £100,000 per month through a website running basic free ecommerce software.
The branding was terrible. But we were really hot on customer service. How can you not be when you are working 18 hours a day, every day? 85% of our customers were in Finland. I even went out and bought a ‘I Love Finland’ t-shirt.
I remember at the time finishing work in the early hours one Friday, and having to pinch myself with how incredulous life had become. We’d been at the right place at the right time, and been pretty smart. Nothing world beating, though.”
But what do you do once your fledgling business has grown as large as it can right now? Real entrepreneurs build through these plateaus, improving and maturing their business.
Often this involves branding, marketing and PR – as well as developing systems to fulfil orders and deliver great customer service. Because while simply being in the right place at the right time with a great idea can get you so far, at some point you’ll need to maintain and build on that success. You’ll need to compete with more mature, established businesses, and expand beyond your initial customer base.
Read more on using customer service marketing and PR to grow your business:
- Service with a smile – using customer service as a marketing tool
- Three reasons EVERY business needs a marketing plan
- Five easy steps to planning your marketing budget
- Six reasons why branding is important for ALL businesses
Keep evolving and growing
And don’t expect that first, post-launch plateau to be your last. As Warburton says:
“I recall being in the plateau stage four times now. We are just about to head out of our latest one. Each time, it’s like playing a computer game, where to get to the next level, you have to beat the ‘boss’.
When you are further on in the game, you always look at that those bosses from earlier levels and realise how easy you can beat them now. To be successful, you just have to be continually improving, otherwise you’ve had it.”
So don’t be afraid to keep learning, evolving and pushing forward. This takes wisdom, to spot the times when you need to take the next step up, as well as resilience – growing a business can feel like a roller coaster ride at times, with thrilling peaks and frustrating troughs.
Often the entrepreneurs that last the distance are those like Warburton who are able to post the times they need to grow, and have the determination and belief to make the right decisions and keep going.
For more information on the Ecigwizard brand and for interview opportunities with Director Oliver Warburton email Emma Gilbey or call her on 0208 6000 500.