How to future proof your startup

Learn the eight key strategies for future-proofing your startup, including data-driven decision-making, financial planning, and team investment.

Sarah Kimmorley

September 27, 2023
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Starting a new business venture is a challenging endeavor — getting the money required to fund your startup at the beginning is hard enough, but sustaining your company over the years is another matter entirely. 

According to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), about 48% of all new businesses fail within the first four years and around 20% fail in the first year alone.

However, these statistics shouldn’t be discouraging. Instead, they should drive home the importance of future-proofing startups. All business ventures are liable to fail at any time, and entrepreneurs should set up their businesses so that they can deal with problems both current and anticipated. 

Here are 8 ways that founders can run a tight ship and keep ahead of the pack. 

1. Make evidence-based decisions

Evidence-based practice is a philosophy that advocates grounding occupational practices in current scientific understanding. The philosophy first found a footing in medicine but has been used in law, education, public policy, and more. 

The key to evidence-based entrepreneurship is basing business decisions on hard data instead of relying on hunches. That could mean consulting academic studies and government reports or even conducting proprietary studies to determine the next best move. 

Essentially, business owners should be able to point to specific numbers, studies, or other forms of evidence when justifying a decision of theirs. It’s not enough to just go with your gut. 

Grounding decisions in empirical fact can help future-proof startups by making staying up to date with the latest data a core feature of the business’s culture. 

2. Ensure that you’re saving enough money

In the early stages, running a startup tends to require spending a sizeable amount of money. Entrepreneurs need to hire full teams from scratch, invest in equipment, and more. In fact, the standard wisdom is that it takes about two to three years for a new business to become profitable. 

However, founders should also remember that saving can be just as important as spending. 

As the current pandemic has shown, the world economy can take unforeseen turns, and it’s important to have enough money in savings to weather sudden economic downturns and slow periods. 

3. Stay up-to-date with the latest developments in your industry

When it comes to business, the adage, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying” rings true. For a startup to stay competitive, its leadership needs to have its fingers on the pulse of its industry so that it can integrate new technologies, jump on trends, and circumnavigate potential pitfalls. 

This goes hand-in-hand with taking an evidence-based approach to business. By staying up to date with industry news and developments, startup owners can see what’s currently working best and what mistakes their competitors have made. 

Although case studies aren’t as reliable as randomized controlled trials, they tend to be the only evidence that one can find in the business world. Not keeping up to date with the industry’s goings-on means missing out on this valuable data. 

4. Keep an eye out for risks and opportunities

Like a driver, an entrepreneur needs to know where they’re headed and be on the lookout for potholes and traffic jams that can give them a flat tire or slow them down. 

Similarly, entrepreneurs should also keep an eye out for useful opportunities, just like a driver might change routes if their GPS detects a traffic jam up ahead. 

Entrepreneurs need to stay vigilant. One way of doing that is by routinely conducting SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat) analyses. These reports can provide valuable insights into how to proceed with a business and can help keep leadership in the right mindset to identify new opportunities and threats. 

5. Invest in your team

Even though the people on a business’s team may stay the same over the years, business leaders shouldn’t view them as static resources: people naturally grow and improve their skills over time, so the same people can perform drastically differently at two different points in time. 

While this progression can happen naturally, business leaders can stimulate it as well. Investing in professional education programs for employees is one obvious way of doing so, but employers can also help employees improve by making sure their morale is high thanks to flexible work schedules, good benefits, and fostering a supportive work environment. 

6. Seek our strategic and long-term partners and investors

As a Day Zero investor, Antler invests in early-stage companies starting with Pre-Seed investment but keeps backing the companies we work for their whole lifecycle. 

As an extension of our founders’ teams, we don’t launch and leave. We want to maximise their success. If building your business with Antler, we also provide talent, deep business model validation, and a global platform for scaling, and we are a long-term capital partner who provides follow-on funding or access to tier-one VC firms in subsequent fundraising rounds.

Not only that, when working with Antler, you can access our 5,000-plus global founder network, 600 advisors, sector-focused communities, and monthly socials across locations to support growth, learning and support.

If this is of interest to you, learn more by visiting our website.

7. Test out new marketing strategies

Although it’s important to rely on tried-and-true methods, that doesn’t mean that there’s no room for experimentation in business. Experiments usually lead to the most reliable evidence and conclusions. 

Business leaders need to conduct experiments that can drive their ventures in new directions and optimize their current efforts. 

Marketing is a particularly good field for experimentation as trends come and go very quickly and there are lots of useful analytic tools and strategies, like A/B testing, that can be used to help guide decisions.

8. Foster creativity and innovation in the workplace

By now, it should be common knowledge that micromanagement isn’t a useful management strategy. However, the upshot of that standard wisdom is often missed. 

Micromanagement is harmful because it prevents employees from utilizing the skills and expertise they were hired for. When team members are allowed to think for themselves and act with a high degree of autonomy, they are more likely to come up with new ideas and innovations that can drive a company forward. 

As a startup grows, leadership should remember that employees are often a business’s greatest resource. To keep a startup vibrant and agile, leadership should do whatever it can to foster creativity among employees. 

Luckily, figuring out how to create that sort of environment is often fairly easy: just ask the employees what they need to work at their best.

The keys to startup future-proofing

Overall, the best future-proofing strategies boil down to: 

  • Consistently looking at and reacting to data 
  • Find meaningful investors and partners
  • Bringing out your team’s full potential

By keeping these points in mind, founders stand a better chance of directing their startups to succeed in the long term. 

Antler is the investor backing the world’s most driven founders, from day zero to greatness. We are currently taking applications from individuals looking to find a team, launch a startup, or seeking Pre-Seed investment. If you want to work with Antler apply now!

About the author

Sarah Kimmorley

Sarah is responsible for scaling Antler’s presence in Australia by delivering operational efficiencies and frameworks across the firm. Sarah is also responsible for Antler Australia’s marketing and brand presence, partnerships and business development, and people and culture. Before joining Antler, Sarah was the General Manager at Business Insider Australia and Gizmodo Media Group, leading four globally renowned digital media brands in Australia.

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