Less than a year ago, 5 ladies agreed and committed to writing once a week on theAdotblog.com. The goal was to share our vision, our passion, our woes and our successes as we steered 2 companies (one established and one startup) out of Northern Ontario. Fast forward 11 months and we have 235 posts which have been viewed over 113,000 times. My personal contribution and aim was, and remains, to highlight how a startup can grow from an unknown to a giant and allow others who are in startup mode to benefit from some of the tips and tricks I learn along the way. We’re nearing the 2 year mark here at StaffStat, Inc. and that, in and of itself, is quite the accomplishment. Every single day I read about startup failure rates (some say 90% while others say 70% in the first 2 years). Those articles freely tell you why those companies don’t succeed. They explain why so many startups fail and what they lacked. This is not that kind of blog post. I would rather spend my time telling you why I feel we’ve been successful and how you can be a part of the 10-30% instead of the dreaded 70-90%.
1. Laser sharp focus: We sell an automated shift filling solution, which means we are asked frequently: Will it ever have the ability to be an all in one scheduling software? Can it integrate to our payroll software? Why are you only focusing on the healthcare sector? Here’s the thing: Of course, we can do anything we set our minds to. It’s not a matter of ability, it’s a matter of focus and capacity. We’re not looking to add a million bells and whistles to what we know is a fantastic solution to a major pain point in the healthcare sector. We are resolute with laser sharp focus and I’m convinced that this is why we’ve seen success. We aren’t trying to be everything to everyone. We are doing what we do exceptionally well for a sector we are passionate about and understand.
2. Selling a solution and not the product: Our entire team is aware that we are selling a solution. Sure, at the end of the day it’s a product. But the person on the other end of the line or sitting across from us at the table should never feel that way. The way I see it, if they invited us in, they were drawn to what it is that we’re doing. We ask them about the problems they’re currently experiencing in the area for which we have an answer. We then tell them our story (it’s a pretty great one). Finally, we let them know how the solution we built for ourselves can impact them, their home, their staff, their residents/patients and their bottom line.
3. Amazing marketing: I discussed product confusion in a prior post, but here’s the nutshell version. We came out of the gate with a tagline that confused prospects. It alluded to staffing rather than shift filling. We quickly switched gears and our marketing boasted that we are “Filling Shifts in Seconds”, which is 100% accurate. This ensured that people who had their eyes on our ads, our social media and our print marketing understood our solution. We have in house marketing and we sometimes outsource some of our larger projects. In either case, we stay true to our brand and our vision with every post.
4. A stellar team: I freely brag about the team we’ve been able to assemble. Each person was handpicked for their experience, their passion for our solution and their impeccable customer service skills. Regardless of who’s dealing with a customer, I am always confident that they are being dealt with in the same manner I would myself handle any situation. We all speak the same language. We all understand the vision. We all have a major drive for success. We are all on the same page and those ingredients combined make for a perfect team.
5. Customer relationships: I can’t stress enough how much I value our customers. I spent the entire month of July explaining why a customer is never just a customer. There’s a reason why this way of thinking is essential. I sent out a request to one of our customers on Tuesday asking for approval on using their stats for an upcoming conference. Within 12 hours, we received suggestions followed up by approval. The testimonial we received was stellar and those types of references and customers can make or break a future sale. We check in frequently, we ensure satisfaction at every turn, we bend over backwards, and we are genuinely happy to deal with any questions or problems as they arise. Building great relationships isn’t optional at StaffStat, it’s imperative!
6. Understanding your competition: There’s a fine line between knowing what’s out there, understanding how they compare and letting the competition get to you. My view is this: I’m way too busy working on my grass to focus on how green yours is. I don’t have time or the energy to focus on what everyone else is doing. Yes, we always keep an eye out and an ear out for anything up and coming that may have a similar offering or offer a similar solution to our product. More important than stressing over who else is doing what we’re doing and how they’re doing it is understanding our competitive advantage. That’s my focus and that’s my job.