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Business Planning Process Leadership Management Planning & Strategy

8 Ways to Lead a Startup to Sustainable Organic Growth, Based on Experience

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I’ve shared my journey as an immigrant and how I started and grew an online business that made me a six-figure income within a year and has since grown tremendously. Now it’s time to share how I’ve been leading my team and growing it at a sustainable rate.

1. Be extra clear on the vision and purpose of the business.

The vision creates a roadmap for the direction of the business, while the purpose provides the competitive values. As a startup founder, you’d need to be clear on what the business should achieve within a specific timeframe. For this, use appropriate metrics to measure progress.

2. Allow yourself to “get personal” in running the business.

Many entrepreneurs plunge into business for personal reasons, including earning the much-needed money for education, raising a family, or helping relatives in need. Be clear about how much money you’d need to earn by the end of the month, so you have a crystal-clear idea of how much actual effort you’d need to put into.

3. Hire a small number of people with the right cultural fit and eager to grow together.

Hire sparingly after you’ve scrutinized the shortlisted candidates. A startup needs employees with the so-called “superhero” type, who are willing to troubleshoot anything and everything, not someone who keeps looking at the clock restlessly.

Their attitude and willingness to work hard and smart must show through in every activity. Screen candidates carefully for cultural fit and attitude, which are much more important than excellent skills. Skills can be taught, but not personality.

4. Don’t be greedy with opportunities, be clear about milestones and annual goals.

In a booming economy, opportunities are abundant. Thus, you might be tempted to branch out to various markets to expedite the growth, but it wouldn’t. Staying conservative, while not closing doors for future opportunities, is key.

In the first year, focus on a market that you’re truly comfortable with, so you can build reputation fast. For this, you must have a comprehensive understanding of the niche, so you can tap into the “hidden corners” that the competitors can’t.

5. Cash is important, but focus on the vision is more important.

It doesn’t mean you can spend like crazy. Don’t burn the capital, regardless of the amount and how easy you got them, as you might not be able to raise that much money anymore, if the business doesn’t grow as expected.

Remember that when the startup runs out of cash, it has no more blood to carry oxygen, which is crucial for operation, unless there is a miracle. Execution your vision and purpose as much as possible with minimal cash involvement.

6. Build “frugal” company culture, stay lean, and be happy.

Frugal in cash and lean in activities bring happiness. Correlate lean and frugality with happiness among team members in building the startup culture. This way, positivity brings out the best in people and it, in turn, provides the business with efficiency needed for growth.

7. Hack efficiency and effectiveness.

Use the latest technologies and cloud-based tools to hack your startup’s efficiency. Make sure that all activities are effective with optimal results. Use popular metrics and analyze big and small data early in the game.

In Lean Startup Methodology, creating value for customers can be done with minimal resources. And a lean startup focuses on increasing efficiency continuously.

8. Know when to jump, run, and walk.

A startup expands and contracts repeatedly, which is natural. The founder(s) and team members must work together in a synchronous fashion, but not too synchronous that it becomes monotonous. A startup needs fresh energy and innovative ideas.

It means that each brings their own skills, talents, and passions into the equation in a complementary fashion, but not to duplicate each other’s. When each person complements each other, strategies can be executed properly, and incidental problems can be solved without any delay.

In conclusion, leading a startup for sustainable organic growth requires a comprehensive understanding of efficiency, effectiveness, cashflow management, skill and talent management, and strategic decision making. With the right startup culture development, team members would be energized to bring out the best in themselves for all-encompassing meaningful growth.

About the Author

Jennifer Xue is an award-winning author, columnist, and serial entrepreneur based in Northern California. She is a digital strategist at Oberlo and blogs at JenniferXue.com. Her works have been published in Forbes, Fortune, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Business.com, and others.

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