Irrespective of what stage a business is at in their growth cycle, whether it’s taking seed investment or undertaking an IPO, there are three items that resonate time and again, and that’s a focus on people, numbers and product.
If a business doesn’t focus on these areas it is quickly going to run into difficulties, especially if it’s looking to raise money and scale at pace.
For people, you need the right team around you, whether that’s in finance, sales or product development.
Expertise in these areas ensures your business is more robust, especially during a due diligence exercise on any fundraise or exit, and helps to protect the goodwill and value generated.
If a business grows too fast, without appropriate checks and balances, it can quickly become a problem: IP governance, accounting and recruitment aren’t maintained to match the businesses aspirations and can all suffer to the detriment of sustained growth.
For numbers, inevitably, cash is king for any business, especially when you’re not making much of it, so a business needs to use it wisely; investing into the right areas of the business to help it grow, but also to maintain and protect the goodwill generated, otherwise it will garner little reward.
A business therefore needs to understand its working capital cycle in detail; to understand their cash burn and where the pinch points are well in advance of any looming problems so they can be mitigated accordingly.
On product, for example, if you’ve used extensive open source software which is subject to copyleft licences and the terms haven’t been adhered to, or third party developers own some of the IP that’s gone in the product, then what you thought was a strong and stable business could be built on sand.
Having the right expertise helps to mitigate this risk and the right internal governance to ensure a library of IP is maintained.