How businesses can grow from start-up to household name

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By David Turner, Senior Director, EMEA at Oracle NetSuite

The UK has a world-class entrepreneurial community and spirit that has seen the successful nurturing of a great many start-ups despite a complex array of economic, political and social uncertainties over the past decade. We’ve seen start-ups flourish and disrupt almost every industry and some have evolved into household names at home and abroad.

The future of our economy is reliant on the ability for the nation’s start-ups to grow and by doing so employ more people and bring in more money. The transition from start-up to scale-up is a critical stage in the lifecycle of a company and Deloitte’s recent UK Tech Fast 50 found that the successful pursuit of growth was a core characteristic amongst nearly all of its winners.

Moving onto the growth and scale phase brings fresh challenges. Ultimately, it is about proving a business can grow in an aggressive yet sustainable manner. This means dividing time between a whole new range of demands from recruiting and retaining the right skills, accommodating an expanding workforce and managing increasing levels of revenue to dealing with increased competition and servicing a growing customer base.

What will quickly become apparent as businesses grow is that the spreadsheets, manual processes and basic software that were used to manage finances, customer relationships, inventory and the supply chain process or services operations in the early days will no longer be effective and cannot grow with the business. As the complexity of the business increases, it is wise to take stock of existing systems and processes and invest in platforms and technology that can serve the business as it grows and matures.

Deliveroo, the 2017 UK Tech Fast 50 winner, is one such example of a business that put the need to be efficient and agile at the centre of its growth plans. After launching in 2012 and proving and refining its home food delivery concept in London, Deliveroo quickly expanded to other cities and new countries. As this happened it was confronted with the need for new ways to meet rapid deployment, growing workforce and financial challenges.

Deliveroo quickly realised that by putting in a more flexible, cloud-based business structure that streamlined its processes it could scale even faster and respond more quickly to changing market dynamics and customer needs. The approach worked and today Deliveroo has achieved a staggering average growth rate of over 100,000% over the last four years and now operates in 150 cities, with over 27,000 staff and self-employed couriers.

The complex nature of managing growth is felt by every type of business, not just the technology sector. When high-end cosmetics company Charlotte Tilbury was faced with explosive global growth following its launch in 2015, it looked to find a new way to manage mission-critical business operations. As new entities came on board, the company found it needed a way to look at financial consolidation, order management, inventory management, customer relationship management (CRM), multi-currency, multi-language, and multi-country tax compliance. It found it was easier to manage this from within one single business management system which gave the company the scalability, flexibility and agility it needed to achieve business efficiency and support its aggressive expansion plans.

The future of the UK’s SME community is bright and thriving. If your business is ready to scale it is imperative to heed the lessons from success stories such as Deliveroo and Charlotte Tilbury. Make the investment in the right management systems that will make you agile and nimble and support the sustainable growth required to reach the business’s potential.

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