07 Apr

Coming out of lockdown: The implications for B2B start-ups

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Now lockdown restrictions are easing, the economic climate is changing. Many UK companies have struggled during this difficult period – with some sadly disappearing forever. But it’s not all bad news. An unprecedented number of new businesses (407,510 to be precise) were formed during lockdown by determined entrepreneurs who refused to take no for an answer.

Start-up growth will be difficult to achieve in this post-COVID19 landscape; but it’s by no means impossible for hard-working visionaries to adapt to achieve the success they’ve been dreaming of.

 

Here are two of the challenges facing founders, along with guidance to help them enjoy the start-up growth they deserve.

Start-up challenge #1: Accessing capital

Start-ups have rent obligations, employees and subcontractors to pay – plus a range of other non-negotiable overheads that must be met to stay afloat. Additional expenses may come in the form of digital tools and systems needed to plan, organise, and remote-manage teams (a scenario that may become the norm post-lockdown, with many employees preferring the freedom of home-working).

Government support for B2B start-ups

To take the edge off these financial stresses, small businesses are applying to government sources. For example, the HM Treasury has set up the Recovery Loan Scheme. This is available to encourage start-up growth and help businesses recover during the post-lockdown transition period. However, other financial support mechanisms like the Bounce Back Loan Scheme have been withdrawn – limiting the number of choices start-ups have.

What about venture capitalist funding?

Venture capital funding is another option and appealing to founders – partly because they can’t afford debt finance; but also because they aren’t liable to return the money if their business fails. These aren’t the only reasons and, of course, there’s no guarantee a company will meet the investment criteria of a VC.

Also be aware that:

  1. VCs don’t make decisions overnight – so if you’re in a hurry for the money, this won’t be the easy fix you were looking for.
  2. A VC will want a significant stake in your business as a reward for the risk they are taking – and you may not want to part with equity.

These options are worth investigating but it’s worth seeking advice from a start-up mentor or other professional before making a final decision.

 

Startup Challenge #2: How to win new business

Having in place a financial support system to keep your company afloat is important. But you didn’t start your business to merely tread water. You did it because you (a) believe in what you do; (b) and, that you do it better than your competitors. So, how are you going to win more customers as the UK economy emerges from lockdown?

Potential obstacles

At the moment you may be:

  1. relying too much on friendly connections, referrals, or existing clients
  2. mining your competitors’ connection lists to win business

 

You may also be struggling to:

  1. Hire the right people, or be unclear as to when’s best to recruit them
  2. Find the right niche for your business or pivot to break into new markets

 

Sometimes fear of the unknown can prevent start-up growth happening. This anxiety can evolve from a lack of knowledge: the founder doesn’t know how to overcome the problem and therefore does nothing. In a case like this, enlisting the help of a start-up mentor is advisable.

 

Whatever the challenge, your start-up will only enjoy growth if it generates new business. Unless lead generation and customer acquisition forms a strong focus for your business, you’ll be moving backwards instead of forwards.

 

Of course, this won’t happen overnight. And it may take time if you haven’t given thought to – or tried to implement – key sales strategies.

 

5 tips to generate fresh leads & boost start-up growth

To generate leads, you must:

  1. Have a strong value proposition that clearly demonstrates you understand your customers’ challenges and how to solve them
  2. Have in place the right systems, processes and people to encourage a regular flow of enquiries from interested prospects
  3. Have implemented viable sales systems and processes capable of attracting, capturing and tracking new opportunities
  4. Have devised a cogent sales strategy that sits behind your sales process, carries your message, and reliably secures orders
  5. Have complete buy-in from others in your business – so they are aligned with your vision and as passionate about it as you are

 

A note on ads, social media, and organic SEO

Of course, one way to generate new enquiries is to tried-and-tested marketing techniques to grow a database of contacts that you can mine through email marketing and other methods.

Ads & Social Media

Ads can work if your message is on-point; but they cost money and you’ll be up against fierce competition. Advertising on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook will help you attract new business but it can take time to build a strong presence, let alone ensure you are reaching a specific audience –  so the process can be slow.

Organic SEO

Organic SEO can help businesses capture interest from customers that might not know a brand well enough to actively seek it out. But you’re never number one in the SERPS for long – which means you need to be writing, analysing, and re-tuning content on a regular basis to stay high in the rankings.

 

These challenges present less of an obstacle if you know your audience, what their pain points are, and which channels to use to reach them. Getting this right is hard and can feel a lot like trial and error.

 

So what’s the solution?

As we accelerate out of lockdown, demand for products and services remains high. Competition is high too, yes, but if you master your branding, sales strategy, processes, and systems, you’ll be in a much stronger position.

We work with B2B  start-ups in Brighton and UK-wide and have helped many of them to achieve great growth. Our team has practical, hands-on experience which they’ll use to help you  reach new heights – and will provide full support from the beginning and until it’s time to part company in the best possible way.

 

Ready to take the next step in your journey? Then let’s start a conversation.

Use the move out of lockdown to your advantage.

Get in touch using the form below, or give us a call to see how you can accelerate that growth!

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Written by Ben Bennett

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