Who better to help start-ups succeed, than people who’ve been there and done that…
In 2019, 7,492 new businesses were launched in Leeds, making it the fourth biggest city for start-ups in the UK. Leeds is also one of the UK’s leading cities for fast-growing businesses, beaten only by London and Cambridge. But what does it take to grow your start-up into a scale-up? These scale-ups have shared their top tips.
Listen to your employees
“I’m sure we weren’t the only ones who started off not wanting job titles, or career models and personal development plans,” Paul Henshaw, one of the founders of Infinity Works told us. This approach might work for the first group of people you hire, who are probably experienced leaders and enjoy the lack of structure, but employees will start asking how you’re going to develop their career. “You have to grow up, and add just enough rigour to the business to outline how you can help your team improve and develop their careers,” Paul explained.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
One great thing about Leeds is the city’s supportive digital scene, so make the most of it. Whether it’s start-up accelerators like Ad:venture, NatWest and Tech Nation or mentoring from the LEP Business Support Service, there will always be people out there willing to help. “Hook into the amazing services available in Leeds for start-ups,” Anna Sutton, Co-Founder and CEO of The Data Shed, told us. “Attend the events, there are hundreds, meet the people and join the mentoring programmes. Everyone will want to help and support you.”
Try new things
In business, there might come a time when someone asks you to do something you’ve never done before. If you’re uncertain of your own abilities to do it, don’t be afraid to give it a try regardless. What’s the worst that can happen? “Say yes, and work it out after,” Alistair Maiden, CEO of legal tech consultancy SYKE, told us. “If you realise you really can’t do what’s been asked of you, at worst you’ll know someone that can, so you’ve helped solve the customer’s problem regardless.”
Learn from your mistakes
After 40 years in the business, jukebox manufacturer Sound Leisure knows how important it is to stay relevant, even as the world changes. You have to combine innovation, self-motivation, flexibility and good partnerships for long-term success. “Start-ups need to remember never to get complacent and to learn from their mistakes,” Chris Black, Managing Director of Sound Leisure, told us. “Taking these on the chin and learning from them is probably the biggest and most important lesson to learn. No one can get it right all the time.”
Focus on the customer experience
With any start-up, developing a product or service that people want is always going to be the first priority. “However, in order to scale-up, it is really important to think long term about the delivery and execution for the end-customer,” Jordan Appleson, Chief Executive Officer of software development company Hark, told us. Regardless of your product, the customer experience and delivery should be a whole business unit of its own. This is a key driver for success, no matter what stage the business is at.