Getting Technology Right Is a Critical Step for Startups
For growing businesses, effective IT solutions can provide stability and support success.
- by Teague Goddard
- Startup ecosystem strategist at CDW | May 07, 2019
The startup phase of any business is a challenging time. The business may grow rapidly as demand for its products or services increases, but a misstep can be costly. The decisions that startup leaders make during the growth stage will have a profound impact on the future of the company, and this reality can turn feelings of exhilaration into a sense of mounting pressure.
At the same time, when companies grow, there’s simply more to do. Managing a company of 50 or 100 employees is obviously a more complex task than managing a close-knit team of five to 10 people. And while startups may have been able to scrape by with shoestring budgets or makeshift workflows in their earliest days, growth requires them to standardize processes and adopt best-in-class solutions.
As startups grow, technology can turn into a source of additional stress and cost for startup leaders, or it can become a business enabler that helps companies stabilize and continue to grow. It’s important for growing businesses to adopt solutions that will help them to streamline their operations, rather than high-touch systems that will frustrate leaders and employees and distract them from their larger goals.
By making strategic decisions in the following areas, growing startups can set themselves up for long-term success:
As an organization grows, operations become more complex. Startups in the growth stage may still lack much in the way of dedicated, experienced IT staff, making it a challenge to fully support new processes and systems. However, startups also have an advantage over their more entrenched competitors: a clean slate. Precisely because they are starting essentially from scratch, startups have an opportunity to set up their offices for optimal efficiency, without having to work around and integrate outdated legacy systems. It can be tempting at this point to opt for technologies that merely solve existing problems as quickly and cheaply as possible. But savvy startup leaders will choose networking, telephony and other systems that will streamline maintenance and other operations over time, with the potential to quickly and easily scale out.
Most startups will not only need to support employee productivity at the physical office but will also have to put solutions in place to enable remote work.
It’s common to hear the early hires at Silicon Valley tech giants referred to by their hiring order (as in “Employee #13”). Early employees help to establish the culture of a company and make a startup into what it will eventually become.
In other words, employees who are brought on during a startup’s growth stage will have an outsized impact on the business and may eventually rise to be leaders within the company. Because of this, it’s important to enable these workers to be as productive and efficient as possible, which will help to set baseline expectations for future employees. To onboard employees efficiently, startups must procure, configure and provision productivity tools such as devices and applications as quickly as possible. Many startups will need to rely on an external partner to assist with asset management and overall technology support.
Core Business Focus
In the technology world, managers often bemoan the amount of time and money that must be spent on simply “keeping the lights on” — a euphemism for keeping existing data center infrastructure and other systems running without breaking down. Often, these maintenance and management tasks make significant demands on resources, keeping employees from addressing more strategic and valuable projects.
Growing startups don’t have time to worry about merely keeping the lights on. They want to focus on their business and find ways to disrupt their industries. To maintain a focus on the core business and avoid getting bogged down with technology maintenance and support, many startups turn to partners that offer managed services, professional services and IT as a Service.
Enabling workforce productivity isn’t simply a matter of hiring the right people and giving them appropriate technology tools during the onboarding process. Nor is it enough to merely support data center infrastructure and other systems. Startups must continue to make targeted, strategic technology investments that will help give their employees an edge over workers at competing companies. An external IT partner can handle many of the difficult tasks needed to set users up with new systems, allowing startups and their employees to focus on productivity right away. Among other tasks, a trusted IT partner can assist with hardware integration, software integration, data center rack configuration, asset engraving and tracking, and diagnostic services.
To learn more about how technology can support growing startups, read the CDW white paper “Overcoming the Technology Challenges of Startup Businesses.”