#WisdomWednesday: how to seize the corona moment & come out stronger
Corona hasn’t been bad news for everyone. For companies whose products or services meet the needs of the day, it’s their moment to shine. One of these is our startup Conversation Starter, which facilitates virtual networking, something we are doing a lot of these days. This #WisdomWednesday we’re taking tips from their recent article on how they are growing their business to show other startups ways to conquer corona and scale internationally:
Get serious with dashboards and metrics
This year has had some serious ups and downs for startups, who pulled out all the stops to meet the corona crisis with determination and ingenuity. Our feisty entrepreneurs did what they had to do to meet this challenge, whether it was shifting their focus, putting others first, or upending their business model.
We’re proud of all of them, but today we’re going to spotlight one of our longer-standing startups, Conversation Starter. The virtual networking platform seized the day to change from a lifestyle business into a growth business. That’s not just a bunch of buzz: it means they’re not just looking for profits, but to scale globally, create value for millions and build a world-class business. It’s certainly their moment in history: the corona crisis opened up the market for online networking events, which is exactly what they are building a platform for. The crisis will pass (we hope sooner rather than later) but online networking will linger long after our face masks end up in a celebratory bonfire. Conversation Starter has sky-high ambitions to be a big player in the international market.
Having the right product for the times is a great start, but it takes more than that. To realise these big ambitions, Conversation Starter is getting serious with KPO’s and metrics while keeping track of all of it on their dashboards. They set three targets that describe the company in six months, two years and five years. While the six-month target is defined in exact revenue, number of team members, and product stage, the long-term targets are more general.
So what about today, are they on track to reach their target? The best way to figure it out is with dashboards. Conversation Starter keeps their eye on the prize by keeping an overview of different metrics, including:
· Sales: how many leads are coming in and proposals are being made, and for what amount are proposals being closed?
· Cashflow: what is the confirmed and forecasted revenue for the next months, based on the last six months?
· Conversion: how many leads turn into proposals, and how many proposals turn into sales?
·Average deal size
· Users: how many people are using Conversation Starter, and are people becoming more successful at using it (measured by average number of meetings, user satisfaction)?
On the other hand, you can’t be serious all the time. Lest you think the crew at Conversation Starter are all work, they make sure to throw some playtime in there regularly as well. Because work should be fun: not only does it lighten the load, it’s a great way to keep your team motivated. Conversation Starter got some fun target ideas from fellow Start it @KBC startup Bolt to treat their teams to sweet prizes like cookies from Philips Biscuits when they hit a given number of meetings planned by users, or a fancy dinner (out or delivered at home, depending on corona) for everyone when they hit their monthly revenue goal. The Conversation Starter guys say it best: no one succeeds alone. We couldn’t agree more, which is why it’s great to see our startups inspiring one another.
Invest in (local) marketing
Scaling your sales is essential if you want to scale your business internationally. But of course everything starts with marketing. The trick is coordinating your universal brand while adapting to local contexts: on the one hand you need central coordination, on the other it’s important to dedicate resources to becoming familiar with each market. Not only are there different languages, cultures, and economies, there is also great variety in which platforms are favoured and how they are used, so it’s just enough to copy, paste and translate Facebook posts into six languages. Understanding the local context is the difference between being an outsider or a partner, which is why investing in marketing that is truly international will take you far in your quest for world domination.
As your sales take off like a well-oiled machine, it’s important to also invest in customer success. That’s why Conversation Starter doubled their team with people to help them out with customer success and marketing, making sure their customers are not only many, but that they are also happy! Because as we wrote in last week’s blog, sales are just part of the journey. You need happy customers to keep your company going. That means making sure they are achieving the goals thanks to your product or service. Building on customer feedback to iron out any kinks and play on your strengths is a solid plan for your success too!
Streamline operations with the right tech
A lack of streamlined operations can get in the way of successful scaling. Conversation Starter decided they had no time to lose, especially on repetitive tasks that the robots can handle perfectly. Their ingenuous team automated their time-consuming customer success checklists and planning documents by using Zapier to link up Teamleader, Google Docs and Wrike. They are big proponents of Wrike, the speedy program allowing tasks to be added to both development and client projects. This way the job gets done thoroughly and efficiently, and their team is free to focus on where they add the most value! It’s always amazing to see how technology can help companies deploy their staff where humans really make a difference.
Of course, we haven’t gotten to the point where machines can do all our dirty work. Sometimes we just have to bite the bullet and do some boring stuff. That’s why Conversation Starter established their “day full of shit” (sometimes you have to call it like it is). Those are the Saturdays when their management team takes on all the admin, finance and legal work they can’t delegate and that is too important to put off forever. This falls under the time management approach of “batching”, where you batch together similar tasks instead of spreading them out. While it may not seem like much fun to do all that stuff in one big load, it actually saves time and (mental) energy not to have to switch between different types of tasks all the time. And while there is always something we’d rather do, getting all your shit done sure feels sweet!
These are just some of the ways startups can get down to business in their quest to scale up, corona be damned. Have any tips to add? We’re always up for some new inspiration!