Having spearheaded the growth of Xero UK to becoming a market leader, Gary Turner knows a thing or two about solving the most common startup challenges.
Find your marketing model
One of the most common mistakes startups make is that they don’t know how to market their product and drive sales. “They have no idea of how to get that idea out in front of an audience and drive growth and acquisition of customers out of the back of it,” says Gary Turner, managing director and co-founder of Xero UK, the accountancy tech scaleup. His advice is to find out who the influencers in the market are and to target them. For Xero UK, that was getting in front of accountants at shows. “Finding those pathways to commercial success is probably the number one challenge most startup businesses face,” he says.
Source the best talent
It’s hardly a secret that there’s a shortage of skilled workers in tech. But according to Turner, the trick to solving it is a matter of balance. “If you are a fintech do you hire somebody from a big established bank who understands the industry but may be constrained in their thinking or do you go and hire somebody from an adjacent marketplace that knows nothing about banking but understands everything about subscription service businesses?” he asks. The answer, unexpectedly is somewhere in between. “No matter how great your strategy is and no matter how great your product is, if you’ve got the wrong people you are not going to go anywhere,” he says.
Don’t think too small
When you’ve just launched your startup, it can be tempting to only look at the problems directly in front of you. However, Turner urges you to avoid thinking too small. “It’s a really dangerous slippery slope to mediocrity,” he says. If you have belief and conviction that what you are building is a great product and that the opportunity is big enough, then why wouldn’t you invest to the full extent of your ability to capture that?” Instead of only hiring people for your current needs, he advises entrepreneurs to look at what the needs will be in a year or five. Same thing with the product. It may work for 10,000 users, but how about one million? “Go large or go home,” he says. “Because why bother otherwise?” Why indeed.