How can companies grow their business, increase sales and overcome the key challenges and roadblocks to achieving commercial success?
Growing a start-up in a changing economic and political landscape will come with several challenges. So how do businesses turn their vision into reality? Implementing a unique marketing and sales strategy can effectively transform your business and bring it to new heights – but it is not a one size fits all approach. Andrea, CEO of UK and Ireland’s leading equity funding for businesses, Swoop, spoke about how to take your business to the next level in the commercial business growth talk on the first day Elite Business’ live event on March 9. She discussed the challenges that come with increasing the commercial growth of your company, marketing strategies and just how to attract the right talent for your company.
Launching in May 2018, Andrea started Swoop to help put the power back into the hands of business owners by speeding up their access to loans, grants and equity funding. Coming from the finance world, Andrea explained how it was essential for her to be “creative” when overcoming her initial obstacles. In the early days of Swoop, Andrea met two Google tech engineers to help create her prototype for free while she helped get them a grant for their side game project. By thinking out of the box, Andrea was able to get help and support with the technology side of things, something she knew wasn’t her strong suit.
“The idea was not my problem; it was about how do I go and execute on it… I’m not a techie, I come from the finance world,” Andrea said. “And so, the first obstacle I had to overcome was how to navigate building great tech when I’m not a tech expert. We talked about talent; how do you go about finding talent when you’re trying to build technology?
She added: “Sometimes you kind of need to start being creative about how you’re going to get things. So, think about what you’re good at if you can offer talent, especially in the early days.”
Andrea stressed how distribution for your business is everything. If you are unable to effectively distribute your product and form partnerships along the way, your business could inevitably crash even if you have a fantastic product to offer.
“Another key element is choosing people to be on your team even if it’s just in an informal way of being an advisor,” Andrea said. “And the other key decision that was made along the way that has helped us to quadruple our growth year on year is, when we started, I decided to go directly to businesses. I thought this was so important, and that, of course, they would pick up my idea and go with it. Then you realise, distribution is harder than you think…. Distribution is everything. You can have the greatest product in the world, if you don’t have distribution it’s over. I took that lesson board and that’s why we ended up with partners.”
Andrea spoke about how her biggest challenge is attracting the right talent, especially when hiring technology experts. But she managed to overcome this by hiring people interested in her business vision rather than just salary, and also opened up to the idea of her employees working remotely in new markets.
“Our latest challenge is hiring. Probably my biggest heartache of all is hiring. Hiring tech talent, hiring the right people for your business,” Andrea said. “So, we’ve gone from a tech of 3 to a team of 45 in the last few months, so that’s been a really big challenge.
“One of the things that we’ve discovered in terms of attracting more tech talent is that they buy into the mission. They’re buying into wanting to make a difference and creating an impact, which is a lovely thing now that you’re able to attract people not just on salary.
“We’ve just opened an office in Barcelona because a lot of them said we’re thinking of moving, they can all of course work remotely and apparently Barcelona is the new place they want to be. Great tax breaks for developers there. Nice weather, so it was a no brainer. We literally went to Barcelona, opened an office and we’ve attracted 5 tech people on that basis alone. And it works out cheaper for us.
“Be open to anything. It’s easy to operate and move around to different markets. I suppose the biggest challenge is market entry, finding customers in these new markets.”