We were thrilled to receive news that we’ve been chosen as a winner of ‘Startups 100’ for 2015!
Now it its sixth year, Startups100 chooses 100 startups from a wide range of industries including product companies such as Pact Coffee which has been receiving masses of press in the past few months, and lifestyle management companies like Hassle.com and Laudrapp, to Big Data and SaaS companies such as Ormsby Street.
What makes Startups.co.uk‘s list interesting and great to be on, it that they’re not merely only looking at the figures (turnover, assets raised, profitability etc.) but also at the founders, scaleability and innovation of each company.
Here are the five things that founder Martin Campbell thinks make a great startup
1) “You have to start with a problem. And that doesn’t mean just picking something off a website and thinking ‘I could solve that’. There’s a school of thought now which seems to think that a startup is a special kind of business which can “pivot” and head in a different direction – solve a different problem – but I disagree. Running a business requires flexibility about how you solve a particular problem, and sometimes dramatic changes can give a business a big leap forward, but businesses without a clear idea of the problem they want to solve are really just throwing solutions at a wall and seeing what sticks. All the really successful business leaders I know have lived through the problem that their company solves for customers – they understand it in a deep and fundamental way, and they care enough to help others solve that problem and it’s that shared experience that creates an authenticity and trust which are essential for a successful business.
Really remarkable leaders often have a different take on what a problem really is: Steve Jobs didn’t look at his products as solving consumer electronic problems, but rather on solving User Interface problems, Elon Musk treats space travel as not so much a technical exploration problem as a cost and simplification problem, and here in our own business, we don’t use credit information to solve a credit risk analysis problem – we’re solving the problem of poor cash flow for SMEs”
2) “You then need an innovation – if you’re just solving the problem in the same way as others, then the overhead involved with starting a new company isn’t worthwhile; you may as well go and work with those who are already doing that job. Sometimes your unique insight on what a problem really is gives that innovation, sometimes it’s an idea that’s worked in another field but which hasn’t yet been tried in yours, and sometimes it’s completely new. Your innovation is what will give your business the edge, so it’s important that it’s difficult or impossible for others to copy. In our own business, we’ve been able to build an unique insight engine by analysing several year’s worth of data from around 25,000 SMEs – an unique resource which we can use to further improve our own product even as we bring new users onto the platform.”
3) “Next you need a team – the dream of the whole company created by one person hits the headlines precisely because it’s so rare. Most jobs require a mix of skills, and most human beings require the odd day off! So gather a team around you. In a young dynamic fast-growing business, there are few roles where you’re looking most of all for the ability to continue doing something that someone’s done before. Look instead for those who understand the problem your business solves, ideally those who have experienced it, and who have delivered innovative solutions and shown that they are capable of adapting and changing – that’s what will come next if your company is successful and grows rapidly.”
4) “In order to get the best of your team, you’ll need a structure – a way to continually share what’s happening in your company, to reinforce your vision and to ensure that each individual knows that their own role is – what they’re expected to achieve, but leaving them free to make the decisions that they need to make within their own role. It feels really odd to be starting to think about quarterly objectives and key results or performance indicators whilst you’re all sitting in the same room and able to communicate so easily, but success can very rapidly change things. In our own business, we’ve found that launching our new platform brought interest from all sorts of customers and partners across Europe and further afield, and with key team members on the road developing and delivering on those relationships, that structure becomes very important, very quickly.”
5) “Most of all, I think that to make a success of a small company, you need an appetite for growth. Making good decisions early on and planning for substantial growth is the only way to be ready when opportunities arise, and in order to put in the mental work to maintain that big vision even when the day to day work gets very busy you need to have that drive and ambition built in. Whilst it’s certainly true that many businesses become successful because they are in the right place at the right time, what people often forget is the hard work, planning and personal commitment required to get the company there in the first place!”
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