“It’s not what you sell, it’s how you sell it” once expressed by HubSpot’s CTO, Dharmesh Shah, is an invitation for startups to evaluate their strategy. In the small business world and especially with startups, it becomes easy to get caught up in minutia and forget the bigger picture. Knowing what to plan for and more importantly, how to plan will help prepare your new venture to experience greater success. Here are three standards that Shah shared about the secret to his organization’s success.
Number one is scalability. Now, it’s not just scaling business ideas, products or services, but more so for founders. As startups grow into larger companies, the leaders must know how they can duplicate their leadership practices and habits, effectively creating a place where things are scalable. Knowing where to begin can help. Shah suggests having annual reviews in place. In his case, his co-founder, Brian Halligan would write Shah’s review and vice-versa. This can also look like a small team that each takes a part in the review process, helping each other improve and provide clear feedback.

In one example provided by Shah and given his background in products and engineering, the annual review he made for his co-founder was akin to a bug report. Remembering this experience of annual reviews, he recalled “What features are working? What features would you like to fix and let’s rank the severity.” This is a pattern of assessment which can guide others in their startups to help give feedback to one another in a healthy, team-building atmosphere. The feedback will also show how well the company is working to sell their product or service, and what things need to be worked on. It gives an opportunity for executives and employees alike to share with and learn from each other. 

Second, the right balance of leadership is essential when hiring potential candidates both with or without the “MBA” degree . In Shah’s own words, “I don’t subscribe to the notion that you should just outright dismiss MBAs as being not useful for early-stage startups.” He further explains that their credentials should not make up the entirety of the team. There is a good balance found when individuals with different backgrounds are brought together to solve problems. This equilibrium will give an advantage in startups when deciding between how different products or services should be marketed to their clients and customers. Startups and small businesses can find better solutions when new perspectives are brought on board with the help of contrasting opinion and experience.

Finally, and especially important for each founder of new startups, is to find their role. Putting more effort towards utilizing strengths rather than just avoiding weaknesses will yield higher quality insights towards finding that role. When HubSpot was still in the early stages, Shah knew that he wouldn’t become CEO, instead leaning on his strengths and working on his role as CTO. This allowed Halligan to use his talents as CEO and together they were able to grow the company more effectively with abilities being properly utilized. Ultimately, marketing tactics were better planned out for their ideal clients. This decision benefitted the progress of Shah, Halligan and the startup in the long-term, now shown by their net worth of over $2 billion dollars. 

For a proper marketing plan to work, the foundation of startups must be set correctly. Following the initial groundwork necessary to be carried out by founders in small businesses, further advancement is able to take place. How a specific product or service of small businesses is marketed to clients and customers will further prove the effectiveness of the foundation in a business. If you are part of a startup and need some help with your new foundation, our team of professionals can help advise you towards making the right decisions for your industry. As each company has specific needs, we invite you to meet with us today and experience the JTC difference as together we endeavor to grow.

*For the complete interview with Dharmesh Shah, feel free to read more here on First Round Review. This article is intended to be purely informational. Please speak with a licensed accountant who can help you find the right strategy towards success for your small business.