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The mistakes most scale-ups make...

Buzzacott's tech and media team give their wrap-up advice from last month's eye-opening Silicon Valley Comes to the UK.

Last month Buzzacott’s tech and media team had the pleasure of attending Silicon Valley Comes to the UK’s (SVC2UK) series of annual events, of which we were also proud sponsors. 

These events bring together the most inspiring entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and industry experts from both, global tech capital Silicon Valley, and also investment hotspot (and home), the UK! Attracting around 2000 people this year, our team got out there attending the Women’s Founders event, CEO Roundtable and the Good Growth Summit, to name a few. We met loads of interesting individuals and businesses and even spotted a lot of similarities in the obstacles that entrepreneurial businesses are trying to overcome. 

Here’s our round up. 

As always, if any of the below peaks your interest do not hesitate to get in touch with our experts to discuss in more detail.

Fail Fast

Silicon Valley’s well known mantra of ‘Fail Fast’ or to some ‘Fail Better’, is often disregarded as many still fear failure. However, what is clear for any start-up or business trying to scale, is that you shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes. We know it’s very easy for us to preach this when it isn’t our own money on the line but for every mistake made, there are lessons learnt, and these lessons create great leaders and even greater businesses. We were very much reminded of this at the screening of General Magic at SVC2UK telling the cautionary tale of how even the best ideas can fail without proper business and financial guidance. General Magic, known for being one of the most successful failures in Silicon Valley’s history, was an off-cut of Apple in the 90s and were the pioneers of the smart phone. Not heard of them? You aren’t alone! Their business and share price soared in the 90s but then crashed almost immediately after and they were considered a dead company in Silicon Valley. Although this example is extreme, we recommend you look into them LINK as they will reiterate how important it is to seek advice and guidance when you grow your business to ensure the expansion is right for you and your business.

Don’t try and be the entire C-suite board 

We understand that when you’re starting out, you often have to juggle all roles and functions in your organisation, but as you expand, think about where your skillset can best be applied, and look at hiring a support system. This can be from hiring an internal CFO to working with consultants or non-execs. Whatever works for you. 

However, in your infancy finding and hiring staff is especially hard and can be costly in both your time and money. Staff incentives schemes like Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI ) share-option schemes are a great way to motivate key hires in helping to grow your business if you can’t afford to pay market rate. Not only does this motivate staff, but it encourages those representing your brand, to work hard and protect the legacy you’re trying to create.

Be your own brand ambassador

Brand ambassadors are at the heart of most successful businesses. You and your staff need to be able to be good at explaining what you do, what you represent and how you work. Every time you meet someone, no matter who, there is opportunity. 

Start by summarising the purpose of your business on a post-it note. This summary is your elevator pitch. If this is ingrained in everything you communicate then you are the best ambassador for your brand.

Choose your investors don’t let them choose you

When investors come knocking, they also bring with them a whole host of risks. Be careful about accepting fantastic offers from large corporate clients that you think might be a quick cash-flow benefit for your business. Think about the big picture, does it pull resources away from the true USP of your business. Importantly you must also remember to do your research and know your investors. What they are offering? Is it just the money or will they open door or give time and expertise that might be more valuable than the money itself. In addition to adding value, do their plans align with your aspirations and finally, are they aligned with your aspirations?  Do you even like them? 

Ultimately, don’t lose sight of what your brand has set out to do and achieve and don’t be afraid to make mistakes, just make them quickly and move on.

If you want to hear more about our takeaways from SVC2UK, our corporate finance manager, Meera Shah, answers some of the questions about whether 'Scaling up is right for you' 

For more advice for your business please contact any of our team, visit our page to find out more about the services we offer for Technology companies..