4 key assessments to sustain your business

May 3, 2017

‘Would you operate your business the same way if you had a million euros?’, was one of the questions during yesterday’s Scale Up Academy. The theme that grasped the entire evening was how to sustain your business. Tuesday the 2nd of May, we opened the interactive evening at Impact Hub in Amsterdam. Experts from Impact Hub gave their insights on how to ensure sustainable success.

Startup challenges

We kick-off the Scale Up Academy with a pitch-round, where each participant introduces him-/herself, the company, and the challenge the company is facing. It appears there are two trending challenges: finding investors and accelerating sales trajectories. As Yvo van der Tol, director at Stranded Flight Solutions, nicely formulated: “you get stuck in the swamp, before getting commitment from corporates”.

Self-assessment

The first part of the workshop is a self-assessment. A major pitfall in starting a business, arises when you stop assessing yourself and your company. The Impact Hub provides participants with a ‘checklist’ that covers four major themes:

  1. The entrepreneur and the team
  2. Product/market fit
  3. Financials
  4. Impact and scalability

Robert-Niels, impact tracker and investor relations at Impact Hub, explains: “investors find these four themes utterly important in making the decision to invest. However, they will not understand your performance, if you cannot explain it. To get the story evident, begin with assessing where your company stands, and continue this throughout your company life cycle. Your innovation will be most promising when you know how you can evolve it in the market.”

Peer Due Diligence

Assessing what you are doing can be challenging, but how do your peers value your innovation? The second part of the Scale Up Academy opens the discussion in groups of three. Again, tapping into the trending challenge of finding investors, explaining your story to peers is the first step in succeeding to acquire funds. Investors will ask evidence for your story. Peers are knowledgeable in your field of business, and even though their innovation concerns a whole other sector, they are likely to face the same challenges. Therefore, they can provide valuable insights from angles you might have missed in your self-assessment.

Some useful insights were brought to light by the Impact Hub and experienced innovators:

  • Know who your fellow entrepreneurs are and get to know them.
  • Determine the status quo of your innovation.
  • Investors do not only look at numbers; team performance, product/market fit, and the impact you are making, are just as important.
  • Assess yourself when entering the market, but do not stop! Self-assessment is a continuous process.

Pieter de Jong from Buurcare found that speaking to peers in his industry adds. Yvo van der Tol agrees on this and says that a strategic view and business models, often provided by consultants, are always a good basis, but if you are scaling up, a conversation with a peer might facilitate a swift growth more easily. He also provides an interesting insight into realizing sales: “you have to know who the right person in the organization to talk to is. When you start out, you might think that speaking to everyone gives the best result. You will be surprised; when everyone has an opinion, it can backfire and result in no sales. Make the person in the top realize the organizational issue, and provide the solution to the executive department.”

Popcorn Harvest

The final part of the academy is a popcorn harvest. During the workshop, ideas popped into the minds of entrepreneurs and in this session, we harvest as many of them as possible. One question that made you think your decisions over was the question ‘Would you operate your business the same way if you had a million euros?’. The session lead to interesting thoughts, where some entrepreneurs said they might hire more people, or that they might pay their staff higher salaries. Some said they would probably invest more in their marketing and sales. Ilse Kwaaitaal, program scout and support at Impact Hub, underlines the subject by showing how hypothetical situations could help you thinking more ‘out of the box’.

Looking back at this Scale Up Academy

The atmosphere during the evening was very pleasant. Both parts of the workshop were highly interactive, and the popcorn harvest was a nice add-on to share all ideas that surfaced during the group activities. Participants asked critical questions about situations of peers, how they responded to setbacks and innovation challenges. Both real and hypothetical situations were discussed. Nadja Muller-den Blijker, CEO and cofounder of iThrive, found the Scale Up Academy to be “dynamic, insightful, and truly valuable”. After the workshop, there were drinks and the opportunity arose to network.

 Up next in June: design thinking

The next Scale Up Academy calls to a new way of thinking; a more Human centered way of thinking about your business design. The five steps that cover this way of thinking are 1. discover, 2. describe, 3. ideate prototype, 4. test, and 5. implement. You will be exercised with hypothetical or real issues. Pre-registrations are open now!

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