The Start-Up Rapids Await, Tips and Tools for your Trip

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Away we go winding down the adventurous paths and more choices to ponder. Having managed growing organizations and divisions for many years I am often asked what choices should we make when we hit the in-between stage of growth  There are many tools and resources available today for each area of the business, however, some are for larger-scale organizations and do not lend themselves for you at this stage of your organization.

Let’s use this point in our story to review some of the basics to help you along in some core areas of the journey. But before we go too far note that it will be important to have a strategic plan in place for managing these areas. 

Some are not simple, the rivers in this journey can turn rapid, you may require a river guide to leverage the raw power of the momentum. So, let’s jump in the rafts and head into the jungle. And this is not about that other company with a river named after it…..

In any journey, there are multiple phases you can see ahead. Some come fast, some come slow but I’ve told this to others if you are not growing your risk for failure increases. In the next few sections let’s touch on some areas of the business stages and some things to think about in each operational area. This is not an all-encompassing map, but it should serve as a guide for things to prepare for and tools that can be leveraged.

Let’s start…..

Checkpoint One

We’ve now made it a little further down the river and the next question is….. Are you ready to press on?

Of course, you say…. But what should we expect ahead….. 

Here is a checklist of questions to review as you head deeper into the jungle, not all things are for all businesses. Planning is great but you should always lookout for the unexpected. Watch out for those Crocs in the water…  These questions should help you think about some areas ahead as you hit the stages along the way. 

Finance

  • Is the business set up with your state?
  • Do you have Tax id’s or EIN’s based on your company type?
  • Do you have the proper banking requirements and accounts?
  • Are you set up to do business in other states if needed or other countries?
  • Do you have an accountant for business and tax processes?
  • Who is managing A/R, A/P, Travel and Expenses for the staff or billable to a client?
  • Have you built a P&L to track all aspects of the business?
  • Are you using a financial tool such?
  • Do you have a corporate Credit card to track financial purchases to separate out from personal expenses?
  • Have you thought about ownership stake and/or stock plans, certificates for staff and investors

Legal\Corporate

  • Do you have a corporate lawyer or law firm?
  • Do you have corporate insurance?
  • Have you developed a standard Customer Contracts, Terms of Use or Statements of Work
  • Have you developed Privacy Policies?
  • Do you have a Service Level Agreement prepared?

Human Resources

  • Have you contacted an insurance broker for Employee Benefits and Insurances?
  • Have you leveraged a tool or a recruiter to find and develop staffing plans and recruiting process?
  • Have you defined an Onboarding, Training and Termination plan?
  • Are you documenting new or existing corporate policies?
  • Have you defined and built Bonus and compensation plans?

Development

  • Have you decided on future development teams and process being on-shore vs off-shore along with staff to manage one or both?
  • Have you adopted tracking tools to track bugs, enhancement requests, etc.?
  • Have you defined future product roadmaps maps for the next 12 – 18 months?
  • Do you have a scalable Hosting and data process plan?
  • Do you have Backup, redundancy policies, documentation, and procedures in place?
  • Have you defined service levels, system updates, and policies?
  • Have you designed Internal and external communications of new features and training for staff or customers?
  • Have you documented how to utilize your product?

Sales and Customer Success

  • Have you defined your target markets and territory plans for sales or sales support staff?
  • Do you need Inside or Outside sales reps?
  • Will customers buy on-line or via contract process?
  • Have you adopted a CRM tool, process and developed sales KPI’s?
  • Have you benchmarked your pricing strategy to your competition?
  • Have you developed a process for Support tickets tools and KPI’s?

Marketing

  • Have you developed a Go to market plan? 
  • Have you adopted a marketing automation tool(s), process and developed marketing KPI’s?
  • Have you defined target events and meetings plan in your strategy?

CheckPoint Two

As we press on we can go the easy way or the hard way. The hard way you say!  What! No way! The easy way it is! 

The easy way is about automation and process. The earlier on you set these practices in place the easier it gets as you scale. Not everything has to be done at once but here is a list of 20 tools to explore to help with automation and process as you head into this section of the rapids. 

  1. Google Drive and the GSuite – Great storage and collaborative email and office tools suite
  2. VyondCreate all kinds of sales and instructional videos for your start-up by using a library of ready-made characters and scenarios 
  3. Hootsuite – Social Media Marketing
  4. Hubspot – Sales CRM and Marketing Automation 
  5. Evernote – Note taking made easy.
  6. Stencil  – Do you need high-quality and royalty-free images for your website, blog, newsletters, and ads, this tool makes it easy to create them all.
  7. Trello – One of my favorite tools for organizing and collaborating on projects in boards from Development to Marketing
  8. Smartsheet – Interactive spreadsheets and collaboration project tool.
  9. Zoom –  Seamless communication with audio or video
  10. Quickbooks – Finance Management tools made easy
  11. MailChimp – One of the best email and newsletter marketing tools
  12. Apollo.io – Need to create a sales campaign or research your prospects this marketing automation tool is another good tool.
  13. Freshdesk – The perfect tool to use when you want to simplify and improve customer support. I
  14. Lever – A nice way to enter into recruiting before bringing in staff to do more.
  15. GrammarlyA great online service that helps you improve your written word just like a professional editor. 
  16. AngelList – as a startup if you are not aware of this tool you should be. Great way to connect with other like-minded people and investors.
  17. Airtable – Looks like a spredsheet, yet you can easily build product roadmaps and other documents.
  18. Chrome River – Need to manage those travel and expenses for a growing staff look no further. 
  19. Slack – Communications for the new world. Changing the way we interact with others internally and cross-organization.
  20.  AppSumo – Need an app to do something special, check out this site not a tool per se but a treasure trove of tools at the end of the river.

CheckPoint Three the End

Wow, we made it, that was not so bad. You should now have an idea of some things to expect and tools to help as you enter this crazy ride. Enjoy it it’s not so bad!  If you need a river guide along the way reach out and maybe we can provide you with a guide map.

Last modified: August 4, 2019

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