When you’re running a start up you have to be aware that you’re the underdog. You don’t have a reputation to fall back on, you don’t have departments full of specialists and lawyers, and you don’t have a deep war chest of collected profits. You’ve got clarity of purpose, you’ve got a persuasive idea and you’ve got investment – but your investors are going to be looking at how you spend it and if it looks like you’re squandering their resources the stream could dry up!
What you also lack is experience. Start up founders and workers are overwhelmingly young, and that means they don’t have the sheer experience in the field that more worldly-wise entrepreneurs might have. You need a boost, so you can play on the same level as the big companies, you need to import precisely the dose of experience and expertise you need so you can remain focussed on your unique idea without wasting money hiring full time staff you can’t support until your company scales.
The key is to work with consultants. They come in many forms, and it’s worth learning what individuals and companies are available and catering to you to provide immediate insights, or long term, part time supplements to your processes, from decision-making to hiring.
Even the biggest, most well-established companies rarely employ their own in-house market research staff. This means that market research is thriving field for agencies and consultants like Attest who can get you either the answer to the very specific question you need answered (like picking a price point for a new product, where knowing what the market is willing to pay is as important as knowing the costs of development and manufacture) or conduct long term resource into how the strength of your brand waxes and wanes over the months and years of your business’ life.
Legal help is a must when you’re running a business: getting contracts checked is a necessity no one should skip, whether you’re writing the contracts or signing them. If you don’t have a legal professional at least look them over, if not actually get them involved in drafting, you could find they don’t actually do what you want them to, and you’ll find yourself liable for more than you’ve budgeted for or not covered for key services!
Online law firms offer more flexible terms than traditional lawyers so you may find them a good alternative.
Interim has a bad reputation: people thing you’d only hire an interim manager when your company is in trouble. This is not the case. Start ups should be an ideal market for interim talent. An experienced specialist manager can spent a few weeks with your business and pass on some of their expertise while setting up systems in HR, for example and data gathering that will carry you through until you scale enough to justify having these as full time positions.