Early to Mid-Stage Business Pain Points
Some pain points, issues, and challenges faced by early to mid-stage businesses are fundraising, scaling customer service, and finding or retaining talent.
Early Stage Businesses
- Early stage businesses usually need capital to get started and move forward, which is why they need raise funds.
- It is a challenge because it is difficult to get investors interested when it’s largely based on a vision that doesn't exist yet.
- Many founders have issues with money in their earliest stages and have to rely on incurring personal debt, as taking out a loan for a startup with very little track record is very difficult. Others rely on taking money from family members to finance their operations.
- Most founders face the struggle of how to build their leadership team.
- It is a challenge because many founders don't know if it is best to hire someone who gives value to the startup, but is not necessarily qualified to be a manager, or hire someone from the outside with experience, but doesn't mesh with the startup culture. Given this, some founders take too long before making these hard decisions, which leads to scaling challenges.
Identifying the Right Customer
- Having the right customer can make all the difference in order to have a revenue that facilitates longer term growth.
- It is a challenge because many times the first customers do not contribute to long-term value. This happens because in the early stage, founders usually look for any revenue source.
- It is crucial to "determine if a customer is as vested in your success as they are in theirs."
Raising a Significant Investment Round
- Raising a significant investment round is a sign that a company is reaching its “mid-stage”. It normally involves institutional venture capital firms and usually takes 8-12 months to raise.
- It is a challenge because venture capital (VC) operates on a model where only the “hottest” startups are funded while the rest are ignored by traditional investors.
- If a mid-stage company is not in one of the sectors that VCs are interested in, raising venture capital is very difficult.
Scaling Customer Service
- A mid-stage company's customer base will grow, hence, demand for customer support grows with it.
- It is a challenge because, as a company grows, what customers expect will change and the volume of their requests will change. A company must shift from a reactive mode of supporting requests to a proactive mode of fixing issues before they appear.
- Also, to scale a customer service, companies have to lay a foundation and develop patterns that will "spell the difference between running or stumbling" as it gets to the "growth stage".
- At mid-stage, who a company hires and who it keeps becomes a challenge. It is important to have the very best people in the market.
- It is a challenge because, as the company grows, employees may move on chase other opportunities, or the business may require different skills as it matures.
- Companies need to avoid the loss of key talent, which are the strongest performers, have high potential, or perform critical jobs.