Starting up needn’t mean starting alone

As any startup founder will tell you, no matter how great or innovative your idea, success is never guaranteed. The lifecycle journey for any new organization is full of challenges and, for many leadership teams, unknowns. Fortunately, no startup has to start out alone – as long as you keep your eyes open for collaboration opportunities and resources that can enhance your chances of success.

“The biggest thing for any start up is that they don’t know what they don’t know,” says David Stevens, a senior advisor with Deloitte Private Consulting.

“One of the most important first questions for a leadership team is: who are we going to partner with? It’s much easier to scale through a partnership or collaboration than it is to build everything yourself.”

A joint venture or an alliance gives new organizations additional flexibility through contracting instead of hiring several developers or financial management people. And, as Stevens points out, startups can’t afford the best yet anyway.

Relationships matter

Equally important is for startup founders to work with people they trust and with whom they can build a long-term relationship – and be able to work alongside for long, challenging hours.

“There’s a little known question in consulting: Is this someone we can be on the road and enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner with? Because that is going to happen,” Stevens says. “And in a startup you can’t afford to carry people who you don’t enjoy working with, it’s too painful.” In his experience, startups have had to part ways with a partner because they couldn’t work together, or couldn’t resolve differing points of view. It’s vital to start off on a solid footing with the right group of people.

Additionally, “as a founder, you’re going to be stuck doing a lot of things you don’t want to do,” Stevens notes. “Growing a business is just hard, hard work.”

Many startup founders expect to work primarily on their idea, then find themselves mired in a world of financial management. There’s a lot of heavy lifting that can drain energy and distract from getting a product to market. That’s where the right resources can really make a difference.

A little help goes a long way

Before a leadership team can seek funding and scale the organization, the fundamentals must be in order. After all, when potential investors ask for key data like projections or revenue growth, they want the answer now, not next week. Similarly, many new founders are caught by surprise by the amount of effort it takes to prepare for fund-raising. Those who don’t have the right information at hand risk hurting their credibility and losing out on funding opportunities.

Instead, they should consider taking advantage of cloud-based financial accounting platforms, such as Univation. These platforms automate bookkeeping and provide up-to-the-minute analytics data to any stakeholder, whenever it’s needed. The most effective cloud-based platforms will scale as your organization grows and can be customized to meet specific requirements.

It’s not just who you know but how you know

Of course, solid financials and good collaborations are only part of the equation. One must also get the word out. It’s crucial to have a good elevator pitch ready, but networking can be much more productive with someone who can help you navigate the process.

Look for an ally who can connect entrepreneurs with a network of investors and venture capitalists specifically interested in startups. Let’s face it, an introduction from a respected organization can provide credibility that can’t be generated quickly on your own. At some point, every entrepreneur struggles for funding. That’s why it’s good to know a guy who knows a guy with money.

Similarly, you’ll benefit by finding mentors who can help you think strategically, show you how to shape your story and provide insight into what investors are looking for.

No matter where your startup is on the journey, the next step is often unfamiliar territory. You’ll be much further ahead with the right help.


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