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TCV Insights

Are You Ready to SCALE? A Checklist for Entreprenuers

By Doug Zeisel, TCV Growth Partner -

Business owners and CEO’s of companies that hope to grow their enterprises may have a general idea of how they will proceed, but have they thought through all the aspects of what will be required to actually achieve their dream?

All too often family owned businesses, post seed stage tech startups and companies owned by Private Equity Groups fail to realize their goals simply because they did not think through all the details that would be required. We have developed a check list for growth oriented executives to review and consider:

Planning – This should be an obvious place to start and we hope executives have at least an outline of a plan to achieve growth. But, as always the devil is in the details and a realistic plan must be executable and provide action steps with accountability. Building your plan starts with basics:

Mission Statement – We often encounter companies that do not have a well thought out mission statement and that is reflected on their websites where a visitor spends so much time trying to figure out exactly what the company does that they get frustrated and leave. Your mission statement needs to reflect your values and the value you bring to your customers. It is not a statement of what you do (we fix broken windows) but a statement of purpose, values and goals – “we enrich our customer’s well-being by ensuring their windows are repaired quickly and efficiently by our well trained and dedicated employees”. Your growth plan needs to start with a sound mission statement.

Value Proposition - Deeply entrenched in your mission statement is your value proposition. It also helps you define a competitive position that is known as a positioning statement. Again, your value proposition is not what you do, but the value your customers see in your product or service. It is the fundamental reason they do business with you and it should be clearly defined so you can not only position your business but also communicate your business’s value to prospective customers.

Positioning Statement – Based on your value proposition, how are you positioning your company against your competition? This is vitally important because if you want to grow, you will need to take market share from competitors (unless the overall market is also growing nicely). Key to creating a positioning statement is determining a competitive advantage. Once you understand your value proposition and can find a way to differentiate your business from your competition, then you can create a positioning statement. Why are these things important? They determine how you will go to market which is the first action step in your growth plan.

Go to Market Strategy – Hopefully you have connected the dots from mission thru value prop to a clearly defined market position against your competition. If you have, then creating a go to market strategy should be easy. You will need to answer these questions:

· Where do my customers shop?

· What tools do I need to reach my customers?

· How much can I afford to spend?

· What will my sales process look like?

· Who will be responsible for implementation and when?

· How will you measure success?

· More

Of course all of this leads to SALES!

Sales Management and Process – Have you described a clear sales strategy and process? Consider these steps:

· Who will lead the sales process?

· How/Who will generate leads (intersects with marketing)?

· How/Who will follow up on leads?

· Have you a written process outline?

· How will you track prospects through the sales funnel?

· How will you measure success, provide accountability and reward success?

· And more…

OK, you’ve gotten this far, but there is still much to do if you are going to create and implement a growth plan. Other things to consider:

Leadership and Team – who leads various efforts and what does your team look like at various sales levels? How do you lead? How much will this cost and can you grow without running out of cash? Which leads to…

Financial considerations – How will you finance growth? Do you have a budget and forecast that shows how much cash will be required during each step up in sales? Remember, you can grow out of business if you don’t collect money owed in a timely manner. Even if you do, sometimes you will need outside financing to support rapid growth. Be sure you have a model that you can change various assumptions to accurately forecast cash.

Implementation – You will need a “tool” to implement your plan. This is critical as most plans that are written end up on a shelf gathering dust.To implement you need to break your plan into discrete steps with completion dates and persons responsible to perform the required duties. This implementation tool needs to be directly related to the overall plan. It also must be updated on a regular basis with changes that reflect reality. Do you have such a tool?

If you have done all of the above, you are good to go! Need help creating a viable strategic growth strategy? Consider attending our SCALEUP Maryland program developed in cooperation with bwtech@UMBC. This 12 week program dives deep into all the items discussed above and provides a plan structure and the tool to implement the plan you create. Learn more on the SCALEUP Page on our website or click HERE to go to the SCALEUP page at bwtech@UMBC.


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