The difference between a small business or startup and a successful and profitable company typically boils down to time and experience. But, there are certain factors that play a big part in how those companies grew to be successful — things like timing, having the right people, focus, and intensely hard work. Remember that every big company was a startup at some point.
Even though, statistics and researchers tell you that the odds are stacked against you and the probability of failing is high, there are plenty of opportunities to succeed.
The story of how Jumia started as a startup in Nigeria, conquer the many challenges in the most populous country in the world, expanded to other African countries to the extent that it has been tagged by many as 'The Alibaba of Africa' is one that should inspire every entrepreneur. The eCommerce company has empowered, employed and contributed to the African economy since it birthed in Nigeria.
So, for entrepreneurs who are looking at scaling and taking their business to the next level, here are some of the ways to overcome these challenges.
Keep processes as simple as possible
Complexity slows businesses down and inhibits growth. It requires more meetings, more explanation, more refined communication with the customer, more people in the workflow, and more cogs in the machine. As businesses grow and scale, the key dynamic that slows progress and, at the extreme, impairs a business, is the effect of complexity. Complexity rears its head as products evolve, organisations grow, and business strategies change. Therefore, the bosses in charge of growing companies need to be aware of the impacts of growing complexity and take actions to continuously simplify the operations and strategy of the organization.
Win the love of your customers
While customer acquisition is important in any business, you need to focus on the customers you have so that you can win their love. Customer perceptions can make or break a business. If you deliver quality experiences, products, and service, and you make every effort to delight your customers, then they'll sing your praises. When you delight your customers, and they share that delight, your business will grow. Winning the love of your customers doesn't have to be a time-intensive operation and you don't have to completely restructure your business model. You just need to operate in a way that anticipates their needs and stays with them beyond the point where they make that first purchase.
Stay tuned in to your business
As you grow your business, one of your goals should be hiring smart, talented people to handle various tasks. As a business owner, you can't be involved in everything, so it's important to delegate and let other, better-suited people handle the work. But that doesn't mean you should step back and tune out. Just because it's being handled, doesn't mean you're not involved. When you stay tuned to your business and are aware of your surroundings, you'll better anticipate the need for change and adjustment and be able to quickly pivot and adapt when the time comes.
There are no shortcuts in scaling
As your business begins to grow, you may be tempted to make cuts and take shortcuts in order to reach your next goal faster. There's no more surefire way to cripple your business than to cut corners and try to take the easy path to success. Every action you take now has repercussions later. When you take shortcuts, you make compromises. You compromise your ethics, your values, and the integrity of your business — often at the expense of the customer and your employees. The rule of thumb is for you to do the job.
Ask for help
Too often, entrepreneurs view asking for help as a sign of weakness. They think that asking for help means they're somehow exposing their vulnerability. The most successful entrepreneurs didn't become effective leaders because they were good at bossing people around or because they had all of the answers all of the time.