How to be a unicorn? 3 tips to grow your start-up

How to be a unicorn? And what advice can we give to start-ups that want to build and grow? In this interview, I separate 3 tips from Franck Lacombe d’Evolena’s latest book: Startups, les secrets des Aigles – how to be a Unicorn. Franck, in this book, shares with us a dozen recommendations to manage his start-up properly and grow it. Here are these 3 tips you’ll find, as always, in the podcast associated with this post.

How to be a unicorn? 3 tips for growing and developing your start-up

How to be a unicorn? This is the dream of every start-up. But as my grandfather said, it’s not by cutting off the ears of a donkey at one point that you make a racehorse, and even a unicorn. For this, there are rules and Franck Lacombe gives them to us in this new book.

How to be a unicorn? Tip #1: Focus on the business model

A common misconception in the world of start-ups-and business creations in general-is that in order to get started with a great business start-up, you need to have a solid Business Plan.

This is undoubtedly necessary and if you are asked to provide curves, preferably exponential curves, needless to say, you will need to draw your spreadsheet at high speed.

The business model is more important than the business plan

But this is not enough. You will need, above all, a solid business model, note the nuance in the vocabulary. The business model has nothing to do with the curve, it’s more important than that, it’s the engine of the curve, and even better, the mainspring of your future competitiveness.

From start to unicorn
As Investopedia correctly explains, the business model is “the company’s core strategy for making business profitable.”

The business model reflects the strategy Franck explains, he determines how you earn on each sale (and after a few sales, i.e. the breakeven point).

If you make a business plan hover, the business model will take you back to earth

As a result, “a startup that one day wants to be a unicorn must adopt a coherent approach across all parameters from the start,” Franck continues:

  1. Target;
  2. The added value brought to this target;
  3. The “go-to-market” or How? ‘So what sell its products to this target;
  4. The pricing policy;
  5. Sales arguments;
  6. and what Franck calls the ecosystem in the broadest sense: everything that will contribute to scalability (“scaler” in the jargon of start-ups), meaning put in place a mechanism to able to continually repeat the achievements and make money by selling at the right price (and at the right margin).

The essential business model canvas

This model is described by Business Model Canvasimportant for all beginners, Franck underlined.

A strategy is immutable, but success requires the flawless implementation of what we have decided, even if it means changing your strategy from time to time.

So Franck advises asking questions regularly, every semester, or every year, depending on the feedback received from market.

be a unicorn
The business model canvas: to download a printable version, go to this Australian site []

Tip #2 for the transition from startup to scale-up (and maybe a unicorn day): choose your desired targets

“You have to make choices, order access to different targets” Franck explains. “So you have to focus on one target and if you don’t have much success, move on to the next.”

Beginners need to focus. When we start and we are small, we cannot meet everyone

This common-sense advice isn’t just for start-ups, it applies to all start-up entrepreneurs who are systematically trying to sell “Swiss Army knives” (i.e., products or services that do everything for to all) as my friend Yves Bladiaux would say.

How to Be a Unicorn
Franck Lacombe’s book Startups, the secrets of eagles or how to be a unicorn

Types of market access

“There are four different main types of market access” Franck continues: “direct sales, indirect (or VAR), partnerships and OEMs”. All these modes of market access are managed in a different way.

A sales manager will never be comfortable with all modes of market access and especially not at the same time. And start-ups can’t afford four sales managers.

So we have to make choices, and gradually.

How to Be a Unicorn: Tip #3, Business Engineering

Commerce is a matter of talent, but also of developing commercial strategy

“Scaling” means copying successes almost endlessly. To achieve this, we cannot rely solely on talent recruitment. Otherwise, we will have to hire a lot of clones and it is a safe bet that we will reach the empty limits.

Therefore, it is necessary to make the commercial results as independent as possible of the channels to be used, whether they are sales representatives, partners or resellers.

How to Be a Unicorn
From Startup to Unicorn: Jacco Vanderkooij explains revenue growth for traditional businesses and SaaS software vendors. Source: Researchgate

It is also necessary to impose modeling the sales cycle (s) independently of the selected target and the segments targeted.

The construction of the models is done in stages, taking into account what is happening in each stage, knowing the requirements and delivering for each of them, so that thethe entire sales force works simultaneously.

This method allows to maximize results, to be independent of rare talents. Commercial engineering allows us to manage and plan our future results, because we can say for example that out of 10 deals in stage number 2 of our sales cycle, we will win 4 in 3 months.

Portfolio analysis, known as “pipe”, will make predictions possible with extreme reliability.

The business is engineering

There is a paradox in selling. The rumor is that engineers are not good sales people. “It’s not entirely wrong, but it’s also not entirely true,” Franck explains. “The best salespeople are often also engineers, because they think about the‘ process ’,” he concludes.

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This new book is the sequel White Book which we wrote with Evolena

Start-ups and crises
Download the white paper To measure or not to measure (12 obstacles to overcome to boost your start-up) published in collaboration with Maddyness-2020
Yann Gourvennec
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