The startup phase of a business is always equal parts exciting and challenging. Time flies by at a record pace, all the days blurring into one, and before you know it, months have passed. Suddenly, you’re no longer in “startup” mode: your company is showing signs of health, and you’ve reached the initial goals for the first phase of your business.
It’s at this point that many entrepreneurs turn their mind to the future, thinking about strategies they want to implement and how they wish to continue to build on their starter success in the years to come. Such thoughts are undeniably worthwhile, but before you look ahead, looking back, and conducting a post-startup assessment is arguably more important still.
Why is looking back at the startup phase so important?
Starting a business is a crucial time in any entrepreneur’s career. It’s the moment when ideas and plans become a reality – and usually, that means a few lessons will be learned along the way. Understanding what those lessons are can help to influence future decisions, helping to point the way towards what your business needs to continue to thrive.
What should be included in a post-startup assessment?
An assessment should be as thorough as it possibly can be, but there are a few areas that require a particular focus – essentially, anything related to the ability to achieve the key operational goals of the company. For most businesses, this will mean studying the function of supply chains, the reliability and usability of IT services, and logistics related to delivering a product or service to customers.
Other areas to consider include customer service, customer reviews, and employee management; while all of these are important and should be considered at some point, they can be lower down the priority list.
How should each area be assessed?
The key to any post-startup assessment is to look at expectations versus reality. Take, for example, your supply chain: you likely expected that your suppliers would deliver on time – but did they? If there were issues, then the foremost goal of the next stage of your business might be to look for a new supplier that you can rely on.
Performance is also a good consideration. Take your IT system; did it work as well as you needed it to every time – or were there occasional problems that led to delays or issues? If the latter is true, then outsourced IT support could help to tackle these issues and ensure the future of your company benefits from an IT system that is fully suited to your company and plans.
Finally, put yourself back at the start of your business. Knowing what you know now about the most essential areas, would you do anything differently? For example, with logistics, would you choose to offer a free delivery pass to customers, as you now know there is a significant demand for such a service? Or would you have charged more for shipping and packaging as you originally did, as you now can see that you undercharged in these areas? Rectifying these kinds of issues should be high on your priority list when it comes to moving on from the startup phase and embracing the possibilities in the future.
To ensure you are able to strategize for the future of your company effectively, looking back in time and analyzing your startup experience is incredibly important. By analyzing the past, you can identify genuine strengths and weaknesses, which can then influence your business’ next steps as you embrace the post-startup period.