“Launching a startup from ground zero is one of the most challenging experiences any new entrepreneur can face,” recalls Chris K. Hogan, Founder and President of ILIXIR, a contemporary branding agency. One year in, the serial entrepreneur is sharing the lessons he learned from his own experience.
Hogan observes the three biggest obstacles to scaling a start-up are a lack of financial resources, knowledge, and connection. Insufficiency in any one area can threaten favorable conditions for take-off, but Hogan contends a shortfall in connections is the dominant reason new businesses don’t get off the ground.
The first step in boosting advantageous connections is finding an online community compatible with your business ambitions and values. Leveraging a 1:1 contact list isn’t nearly as effective as networking with an abundance of similar minded people assembled to provide mutual support. Hogan suggests thoroughly researching online groups and then becoming an active member of a single community.
The second obstacle to scaling is knowledge. There’s no lack of comprehensive information from people who have successfully accomplished what you are setting out to do. In fact, thanks to the internet, education and instruction have never been more accessible and affordable. Chris K. Hogan, who has taken courses at Harvard, Stanford and Dartmouth, contends that he’s studied with online mentors who are every bit as dynamic and professional as those teaching in rigorous colleges, at a fraction of the cost of traditional academic tuition. “Conscientiously investigate options and credentials,” he advises, and then “go all in with as many online courses as necessary to bring your knowledge up to speed.”
A lack of financial resources is, perhaps, the trickiest hindrance to overcome. “It’s like playing chess with only a couple of pieces – maneuvers are limited until you can generate more working capital,” Hogan says. The solution is personal resourcefulness and a single-minded focus to keep your initial business plan simple and self-sufficient. For example, without the skills of sales, speaking and copywriting, it’s nearly impossible to generate income on the internet. Here’s where knowledge through online course work or mentorship comes in. After obtaining a modicum of financial traction, time is typically a secondary obstacle. This is the point of bringing in a VA or hiring team members. Delegate or outsource all tasks that are non-revenue generating.
As a final word, Chris K. Hogan cautions new ventures against the impulse to scale their teams too quickly. “I’m a big believer in going lean on the team and utilizing exceptional management, organization and technology to leverage the most potential out of every hire.”