If you look up the definition of a startup in urban dictionary, as reliable a source as any, this is what you get:

“It's really super simple, buddy. Everyone can do it! Step 1, create a website. Step 2, start telling everyone that you founded a start-up”.

It goes without saying that those of us who work in a startup would definitely object to the above quote. That’s why we’ve put together this blog series, to explain the different elements that make up a startup in the simplest terms possible.

To kick it off, let’s use the gym as an analogy for this months post. Whilst I’m not remotely fit enough to be a personal trainer and even less so a bodybuilder, I’m passionate about the gym, and it’s something that can be explained relatively easily.

Let’s break it down. You are new to the gym, and are faced with lots of different training options: whether it’s weight training equipment, the various cardio machinery or fitness classes, you have no clue where to start.

Let’s head over to start with some strength training. By building up your strength, you will gain muscle and in turn, will be able to perform better when trying other forms of exercise...

In a startup, tech would be the equivalent of strength training. If you are small and haven’t yet launched, you can just about get by with having minimal tech, i.e. a website. However, if you want to scale your startup you need to build up your tech. Not only does signing up need to be a smooth journey for the customer with no errors, your tech needs to also be a solid system, with the strength to support various different customer data points, the vulnerabilities of hackers, and so on.

Now that you’ve done a couple of weeks of strength training, you’re ready to move onto a new form of exercise. You’re a bit tired of working out alone, so you decide to try out some group fitness classes to see what they offer. Turns out you enjoy the classes, and you refer your friends so that you can work out together. In this scenario, the classes can be related to the marketing aspect of a startup. Not only are you teaching your customers about the product, they are loving it, coming back and referring their friends!

Let’s recap, you’ve built your tech and you’ve marketed your product to customers. Now it’s go time. You’ve guessed it - it’s cardio. You’ve done your strength training so your muscles are ready for the increased activity of running. Get on that treadmill, hit up that rowing machine, because you are good to go!

The startup is in full swing: customers are signing up and the tech is working (apart from the minor bugs that keep cropping up). Wait, what? That’s right, another comparison, and this time we’re talking about operations. In operations you are literally running alongside your startup, and sometimes even faster, in order to prevent any issues that do and could arise. For example, you start with a small team and suddenly it’s increased by 10 - you better pick up the pace and sort that out! Throughout your run, you might also stumble across a couple of unexpected hurdles. In this case, it’s about picking yourself up, learning from that stumble, and making a better jump next time.

Jeewiz, I’m tired! But we’re not quite done, after all this working out we need to stretch. This keeps your muscles strong, flexible and healthy. Let’s use this time to reflect back on what has happened so far, whether it be launching a new product, or adding team members. Ask yourself “how prepared was I?” Take the time to review, and note what could have been done better. If you skip the stretching, your muscles become short and tight - which is the last thing you’d want your startup to go through…