Taking the Next Steps in Your Entrepreneurial Journey
GoDaddy — Gayle Zalduondo and Andrew Kelly, founders of Little River Box Co.
This post is excerpted from the original article on the GoDaddy Blog by Christopher Carfi. It is part of a series that explores the four stages of the Entrepreneur Journey — including the Dream It and Create It phases
The leap from having an entrepreneurial dream to actually starting and growing a venture is a big one. The business is no longer theoretical and the actual work of building and growing a business begins to take over the entrepreneur’s day-to-day activities.
But there is a difference between launching a business and growing a business: launching is a project while growing is a process.
Entrepreneurs must hit important milestones in the growth stage of their Journey — like making the first sale. But growth takes on many dimensions, including expanding marketing efforts, growing networks, increasing conversion rates, and scaling operations.
Remember that in growing your venture, it is important to test, learn and iterate your way to an answer — especially with respect to growing the effect of marketing and conversion investments.
Growth in marketing
Advertising, social media, email marketing, search engine optimization, content marketing, online reviews, and even word-of-mouth marketing all help drive growth. But, to drive growth, you have to know what your marketing objectives are.
You need to decide what is relevant to your business. Determine your objectives to answer the “what are you trying to do?” question. This leads to the “how.” Which tactics are at your disposal to drive that marketing growth?
Grow with a network
Just because you’re an entrepreneur, that doesn’t mean you have to do everything alone. When you’re starting out, you might find that it’s better to do many things yourself, from either a cost or a learning standpoint. To grow, however, you might need to partner up with individuals or organizations that relate to your business
Grow your conversion rate
Once you have your network of partners in place, you might see more referrals or interest in your business. Make sure that you are also driving growth by making the most of those visits. This is where testing and tracking conversion rates can really boost your business.
As your sales continue to grow and your business becomes more successful, you might find that you need extra help. This is the time to grow your operations, whether that means hiring more employees or finding software that can help your business run more efficiently. When you get to this point in the Grow It phase of your Journey, you’ll need to start considering how you will fund it.
How to fund growth
As your venture grows, you will likely need to increase your capital to fund it. If your business is doing well, the easiest route is to put your profit back into your venture. It takes no effort on your part. But, that isn’t always the best route and you’ll likely want to consider an outside source for funding.
If you’ve been in business for a while and have things well-dialed-in, you might find that a line of credit is the way to go. Organizations like Kabbage specialize in funding of this type. Kabbage offers a quick and convenient way to get a line of credit for your business to help meet your growth goals.
Depending on where you are in your growth plan, you might need to look for other types of funding, including business credit cards, grants or crowdfunding.
When growing in all these different areas, it’s important to remember to keep everything in balance. If you grow your sales too quickly, you might not be able to meet quality or production goals. Make sure you have the infrastructure in place, whether it be employees or processes.
Thoughtful growth can help you meet your objectives, and it can help you successfully reach even higher goals. As you reach those goals, you’ll find a balance between growth and managing the various initiatives that are in play to sustain the venture.
A veteran of both startups and the enterprise, Chris Carfi has a deep track record in developing customer community and evangelist programs for brands such as Adobe, H&R Block and Aruba Networks while holding executive positions at Ant’s Eye View and Edelman Digital, and he was co-founder and CEO at Cerado. Chris now serves as Senior Director of Content Marketing at GoDaddy.