6 tips to scale your business from Skimlinks co-founder
If you are a regular reader of this blog then you’ll know that throughout the year at O2, we have been running a series of #ScaleUpSeries events in London, in association with Enterprise Nation, where five successful entrepreneurs share their stories about how they scaled their business.
Earlier this week we heard from Alicia Navarro, the President and Co-Founder of Skimlinks, a platform that helps publishers to turn their content into a scaleable revenue stream through the product links that they embed. Alicia was CEO of Skimlinks from inception for more than ten years, growing it to be the leading content-to-commerce monetisation platform for online publishers globally. It’s now a $50m a year business, running on 4.5 million websites around the world and with more than 1 billion users.
So what are Alicia’s top tips for business owners looking to accelerate their business growth?
- Learn to scale yourself
As an entrepreneur it’s tempting to try and do everything yourself, especially during the early stages. But that just slows things down. It’s really important to keep sight of the bigger picture and understand exactly what you need to do to grow. Find ways to delegate, or seek out others who can support you, so that you can focus on the real accelerants for growth rather than on the day to day administration.
- Stay close to your customers
The one thing you should never delegate is the attention that you give to your customers. You need to get to know them, understand their needs and learn what their problems are. Only by understanding what drives the use of your products can you expect to scale your business for future growth.
- Get to know investors
Building relationships with investors is extremely important, and even an investor who declined to support you in the early days can make a valuable contact. They might support a secondary raise, or be a source of leads for customers or future investors.
- Pause before hiring
A common mistake that founders often make is simply to hire more people automatically when a team is at full capacity. Instead, the savvy founder should take the opportunity to ask themselves whether they have the right people in the team. Are the people you have currently the right ones for the next stage of growth that you are building towards? Do you need to change the structure of the business, or update any processes?
“Too often I see organisations hiring new staff, adding more people to a structure and system that are simply not equipped for the next stage of the journey.”
- Knowing when to change course
The paradox for any business founder is that on one hand you have to believe in your business when no one else does, and remain passionate about it at all times, while on the other you need to be the first person to recognise when it’s time to change course. At Skimlinks one of the turning points came when customers wanted to know more about the affiliate marketing technology we built to monetize our previous business: a social shopping site. What had started out as a peripheral application for internal use pivoted to become the company’s core income generating product and the reason behind the company’s rapid growth.
- Get the culture right from day one
It may be trendy, but workplace culture is about so much more than ping pong tables and beer fridges. At Skimlinks the culture is about respect for employees, as well as a dedication towards their personal development. For any organisation looking to scale up your people need to believe in your mission, want to be part of the story and enjoy the day to day work life.
“I am proud of the effusive and vibrant culture we established at Skimlinks. When your entire team feels motivated and supported then a potential hire arriving for an interview will feel it too. I truly believe that it was the culture we established that helped us to attract and retain great people, despite being in a relatively unsexy industry.”
Are you looking to scale? Then why not join us for our final #ScaleUp event in 2018. We will be hearing from John Roberts, founder of AO.com, voted number four in the Times 100 Best Mid-Sized Companies to Work for and winner of the Customer Service Initiative award at the Oracle Retail Week Awards.
So put Monday 12 November in your diary. O2 and Enterprise Nation will be at Tintagel House in London from 6pm. You can find out more, and book tickets here.