5 Tips for Future-Proofing Your Startup

By Kate Marsh | future | February 26, 2019

Establishing a startup is never easy. It takes determination, patience, and a lot of effort, but Europe’s culture does make it a bit easier to get the ball rolling. In fact, the majority on the BBC’s list of best countries for entrepreneurs are from Europe, due to factors like startup-friendly policies, an educated workforce, and strong business communities in general. CoFounder Magazine also previously made the case for why Finland is ideal for edtech startups in particular.

Regardless of where you are located in Europe, however, there are still best practices to abide by. These serve to not only help to keep your business afloat but to set it on the right path to thrive — whatever the future might have in store. In order to do this and avoid any costly issues in the future, consider the following tips when building and growing your very own startup:

Invest in cybersecurity and data privacy

Even though you might just be starting out, it’s important to understand that small businesses are not exempt from cyber threats. Hackers will attempt to gain access to networks regardless of the size of a company. While large enterprises are generally better equipped to handle the damages caused by data breaches, startups generally aren’t. Fortunately, there are many cybersecurity options today that startups with limited budgets can utilise in order to reduce cybersecurity risks. In addition to this, it’s also worth remembering that the EU has enforced the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which demands businesses in the EU to adhere to data privacy laws. Failure to comply with the GDPR can result in massive fines that can go up to 20 million euros, so it’s best to sit down with your team and work on a solid data privacy plan from the get-go.

Prioritise customer service

It’s common for startups to focus on developing their products or services first. However, it’s important to remember that customers are the key to success, and thus should be paid more attention. One mindset to adopt is to focus on how to add value to customers and their lives. Don’t just sell a product — sell an experience. This is also how startups can distinguish themselves from the competition. So, Information Week recommends doing your research, talking to your customers, and being proactive about providing them a great experience.

Be flexible and open to changes

One mistake many entrepreneurs have made is to be singularly focused, with too many believing that their company should always be doing one thing. However, judging from the background of successful companies today, that shouldn’t be the case. Take a look at Netflix, whose business model started as a DVD sales service and rental by mail and is now a popular subscription-based video streaming platform. It’s better to get comfortable with knowing that the company may end up being entirely different in the future. This helps the business be more open to change and adapt to it, rather than resisting.

Staying updated on economic events

Part of the game is to stay immersed in the industry, whether that’s through keeping in touch with other entrepreneurs or following market trends. It also involves staying up to date on economic events that can indirectly affect businesses in Europe. FXCM’s economic calendar provides an overview of important events and helps companies keep abreast of what’s happening around the world. For instance, certain events may influence the value of the euro, something that startups can either take advantage of or be wary about. Staying connected to what’s happening also helps businesses adjust accordingly in order to stay relevant and competitive.

Inspire a culture of innovation

At the heart of every business is its workforce. Therefore, it’s essential for each employee to be aligned with the company’s vision and invested in its success. Business leaders should exert effort in being more transparent about any changes, which establishes trust with employees. It’s also good to create opportunities for them to speak up and be more active in helping shape the business. One way to spark innovation is to hire a culturally diverse workforce. Another is a simple change in the office layout to create more open spaces that invite collaboration.