You've gone through the hard yards of finalising your Series A funding. The pitch deck is in version fifty-two. The responses to questions like "what happens to your model when the moon shifts on its axis?" are in the past. The long wait for the transfer to appear in your account is over. So what next? Over the last two years, I've been asking entrepreneurs what did they do next, and I've been asking investors what pisses them off about what entrepreneurs do next.
What to do next.
#1 Pick Your Bets and Place Them
Investors (VC's especially) don't want to see you fritter away their cash on piecemeal operational spend. They want to see a plan which will have you to use their money to take your business to the next level. They want to look at you translate the vision you painted in your pitch into reality, and if not get to the destination, make sure you're moving towards it.
#2 Invest in scaling revenues, customers/users or market share
Frequently, seed startups have great ideas that generate enthusiastic early adopters, but the business doesn’t know how it will monetise on them. Your Series A investment fund should be focused on delivering beyond eager early adopters and moving your business towards the mainstream. In the mainstream sits accelerated growth and future profitability. Your ability to sustain growth means you need to invest in both marketing, sales and success functions.
#3 Time Your Investments Properly
Time and again I've seen Series A funded business make their first investment a Sales Director or Chief Revenue Officer. Now, that poses an interesting question. Where will they focus? I've repeatedly seen these individuals sell into a network that they've built in a particular market or vertical, which can drag a startup into territory in which they are uncomfortable, or even worse away from their natural product-market fit. Bizarrely often the last step to be taken, you should strongly consider investing in the skills and experience to define your market, understand key personas and generate demand. Then when the leads are there, hire a salesperson to convert them.
#4 Take Your Brand to the Next Level
Hopefully during your pre-series A existence you will have had the opportunity to establish a brand. Now is the time to build on those solid foundations, maybe it’s time to engage some external help in bringing your vision to life. Unless you have extensive experience in brand building, your best route is to get support and assistance from experienced professional. You can hire a CMO or Creative Director in-house, or you can outsource your work an agency. Quite often this will come down to budget and availability of talent. It's always a tough decision and one I plan to explore further in a later post.
#5 Invest in Content and a Content Marketer
There's no doubt there is an untapped mine of opinions, insight, knowledge and experience within your business. I've seen that in most cases its trapped inside, it never leaves. Leverage this valuable resource. Get those opinions outside of your organisation. Make everyone a blogger. You might need to invest in a content marketer, someone to act as editor. But get all of that opinion out into the digital world. Prospects and customers want to hear that insight, they want to hear from your people, and your people will become enthused when you win customers off the back of their efforts. You'll also win the SEO and SEM battle and hopefully, reduce spend on PPC.
There are plenty more things that can be a priority post-Series A investment. This short list is a few of the consistent elements that I've gleaned from investors and entrepreneurs over the last few years. If you have any other suggestions or advice, please leave a comment on this article.