Spotting your opportunity

There are cases where a start-up is launched on the back of discovering a completely new problem that has never been tackled before. However, most successful unicorn companies have developed by solving an existing problem from a new angle, or simply by servicing an existing market better. Customer focus is the key to development; you must always place your customers’ needs at the forefront of your mind when starting a new business. You also need to make sure you don’t compromise for one customer, since it is common for young companies to try and attract one marquee customer and collapse under the weight of seeking to customise an offering to fit that customer’s specific needs and neglecting the rest.

Take advantage of your start-up status

As a start-up, you have the advantage of agility over the existing vendors in the market. You’re free to pick the best technology to solve the problem without suffering from any constraints from past traditions of preferences.  Your technology has the power to change the status quo, so use the freedom you have when starting out to create a revolutionary vision. Despite this, ensure you are constantly aware of the customer and ask yourself, how do our customers benefit from the technology? Is it enterprise ready?

Make use of your partners’ generosity

In order to compete with big companies with large sums of cash at their disposal, make use of the generosity of your partners. Hardware and software are expensive, especially in the early stages of a start-up, so secure as much funding, grants and credit as possible. Using multiple cloud and software provider credits, for example, can help you get your feet off the ground. There is a huge ecosystem of successful cloud technology companies willing to create partnerships, so don’t miss out on these opportunities to scale.

You should also go out of your way to ask for funding. Though it may sound obvious, use your investments wisely. If you’re fortunate enough to be the beneficiary of a capital raise, don’t let it lull you into a false sense of security- ensure you’re not overly optimistic or expanding too fast, as this could cause you to burn valuable resources.

Keep the good eggs

Bring your most trusted and well-known colleagues with you on your start-up journey. You’ll be the little fish in a big pond and you’re going to need a great team to help you grow. When recruiting, have exceptionally high standards. You should ensure the number of people in your team is not too big, but is comprised of people who have drive and are quick learners. It isn’t vital that you hire someone who knows your coding language, as long as they are able to pick it up quickly. You are looking for people for whom a vision for the future is more important than high salary and bonuses. Don’t rush your recruitment process; one poor hire will cost you not just money, but also valuable time.

Build the company you wanted to work at

In order to compete with well-known brands, start-ups need to attract and retain the best talent and find dedicated staff who are committed to the journey. However, since start-ups aren’t always able to win on financials, creating a positive work environment is crucial. Build a company that you would want to be part of at any stage in your career. A great workplace culture will help you hold on to the gifted people you searched so hard to find. Don’t underestimate the importance of the little things, such as free fruit, socials or having beers in the office on a Friday afternoon. Gestures like these come at a small cost to your business but ensure your staff feel valued, which will in turn help to attract their friends and existing colleagues.

Passion and vision are important foundations for a company, but successful start-ups need to establish realistic goals for growth and development, and to understand the processes required for sustainable growth.