For every startup that succeeds in making the jump to full-fledged corporate powerhouse status, there are several that fall by the wayside before even hitting the market. To an outsider, it might seem surprising that a startup that has demonstrated agility and creativity – and enjoys the backing of investors – can fail. However, this happens more often that you’d imagine, and for a very simple reason – the inability to scale up effectively.
Startups might be agile and nimble but to compete effectively as viable corporates, they need to scale up operations. Demonstrating your product/service at the beta or prototype stage is all well and good, but at the end of the day, that’s a mere stopover on the way to commercial viability and success. Scaling up, therefore, should always be given top priority during your planning.
This, sadly, is easier said than done as once you start ramping up your operations, things begin to change. Staff turnover, increased customer service pressure, the need for bigger facilities, compliance requirements, audits, ballooning expenses – most of which seem distant specks in the horizon when starting off – become real, and all-too time consuming. While scaling up, you tend to lose some of the advantages of being a startup, without yet being a well-established business that’s got its foundations secured.
Of all the challenges that crop up during this transition phase, there are a couple that demand special attention – HR and marketing/customer service. Ensuring that all new employees who come on board are just as passionate about the product, avoiding any hurdles to the accessibility of senior management, and of course, making sure that prospective/existing customers, clients, and investors are directed to the right people and their queries resolved. At this stage of the process, with your startup at its most vulnerable, even the smallest error can deal a death blow to your dreams, and no aspect of business operations is as vital as these two domains in terms of shaping your future.
The question arises – how can technology help? The answer, unsurprisingly, lies around us – Which field of technology has succeeded in leveling the playing field between individuals and large entities, and threatens to upset the established order? Which field of technology is perhaps the fastest-growing one and has changed the way we work and live more than any other?
The answer is communications. Communications technology – from the telephone, to the fax, to voicemail, E-mail, and beyond – has completely changed the way the world does business. And this is also the specific field of technology that startups can use to ease the transition from being small ‘garage’ entities, to globalized, multi-national enterprises. Cloud telephony (Knowlarity’s area of expertise), E-mail, social networking, the spread of mobile phones, etc – all these can easily be leveraged by startups to ease the pains of scaling up.
At Knowlarity, we recognized the criticality of seamless communications for ensuring seamless scaling up of operations, and our own products such as SuperFax, SuperReceptionist, and SmartIVR, are geared towards enabling startups and enterprises to scale up efficiently. For example, whether our customer is a small startup without access to cutting-edge infrastructure, a mid-sized enterprise aiming for a worldwide presence, or a global giant hoping to streamline its operations, the same product works for each one – and allows our customers to scale-up their services seamlessly and pay only for their actual usage – without any spending on expensive telecom infrastructure.
Technology is your friend when it comes to affordable and efficiently scaling up – no matter what business domain or area of concern is. Leverage this revolution in technology while ramping up your operations, and you’ll get past this trying stage easily – emerging in a strong position. Ignore the benefits technology provides, and you’re likely to get stuck in a never-ending cycle of confusion and increasing expenditure!
About the author:
Ambarish Gupta came up with the vision of hosted telephony products for enterprises in India in 2008. He looks at the overall strategic direction of the company. Ambarish has global work experience in business strategy, marketing, technology and organizational effectiveness. He worked for McKinsey & Company in US as strategy consultant and Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics, Germany as researcher. He graduated from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur with degree in Computer Science in 2000 and MBA from Carnegie Mellon University, USA in 2007. You can reach him at [email protected]