Anybody who’s worked in a start-up knows that a bit of chaos is all part of the package.
But, once you reach a certain level of growth, leaders have to start thinking harder about consistency and sustainability. Operational details – frequently overshadowed in the early days – come to the forefront. After all, customers need to feel confident that your processes are compliant and predictable, while internal teams need alignment and shared sources of truth to keep working more efficiently.
Call it the double-edged sword of success, or simply a necessary step in scaling a business. Either way, it’s a journey that Shootsta knows well. Homegrown here in Australia, we began as a cloud-based, innovative way to make high-quality video production more doable for all businesses. As our business expanded to five other countries, we realised we needed to digitally transform a mishmash of processes and systems – fast.
That’s not easy for any business to do. And it can be even trickier for the small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) who need to meet demand like a big business despite very different resources.
But quick wins and tangible benefits are the sugar that helps the medicine go down. If you’re in a similar boat, here’s a snapshot of Shootsta’s experience and a few lessons you can take to your own business.
At Shootsta, our people were quick to use digital solutions from the beginning, but there was little consistency across teams or functions. Everyone had their own system and solutions. Unifying all customer data in a single source of truth via Salesforce was game-changing, but I won’t lie and say it was as easy as flipping a switch.
That’s where everyday improvements to customers’ and employees’ experiences made a big difference.
For instance, we’d noticed small variations in contracts. Integrating DocuSign with Salesforce removed most of this risk, a critical outcome by itself. But sometimes ‘risk mitigation’ isn’t a sexy enough selling point when you’re asking teams to change how they work. Luckily, our solution made it easy for employees to see other benefits.
The old way of signing up new clients and customers involved emailing or downloading contracts, printing them out, signing, scanning then emailing again. It was a painful, time-consuming process, and sales teams had limited visibility into each customer or prospect. By moving to DocuSign and Salesforce, we’ve transformed those experiences for both employees and customers.
Instead of spending time on manual admin, the sales team can focus on moving prospects through the funnel, armed with e-signatures, a single source of truth and clear visibility into the agreement process. And, of course, customers are able to sign agreements from their own devices, helping them avoid tedious printing and move on to creating great video content faster.
Integrating solutions like DocuSign created much-needed efficiencies and improvements that people loved, but getting to that point also required some earlier groundwork. This included a deep focus around who we’re targeting as our end customer. We then designed the experience we wanted them to have.
That’s a big reason why we chose Salesforce as our CRM solution. We wanted one source of truth for every part of the business – not just sales and marketing – along with end-to-end workflows. It meant we needed a system that could integrate with a broad range of solutions like DocuSign, offering flexibility without needing a cobbled-together collection of platforms.
To properly nail a full, end-to-end experience, you need to know in advance what it should look like. You need to know how it looks internally as well as from the customer’s point of view.
With those end experiences as your north star, you can more easily stay flexible when employees come to you with pain points or requests for adjustments. Even at Shootsta, where our people were excited about the benefits of new tools and systems, there were growing pains. We knew what we wanted our customer experience to look like, so that guided us when deciding how to apply employee feedback.
The changes we’ve made at Shoosta have created a single source of truth for virtually every part of the business, even with teams in multiple countries. The end results have been better end-to-end experiences for customers, while Salesforce offers complete workflows for teams across the business – from sales to finance.
That doesn’t mean every part of the project was perfect. One lesson for us was that it’s hard to make so many broad changes all at once – if we had the option, a more selective approach to priorities may have been easier to manage.
But we needed to transform operations fast, a familiar story for the many SMBs who’ve had to pivot since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Having spent a lot of my career in startups, I can tell you it’s a challenge that pre-dates COVID-19, though. It’s common to get swept up in rapid growth and want to hit a bunch of different markets all at once, but then realise later that your internal processes aren’t set up for that scale of growth. It leaves a lot of startups scrambling to transform all at once.
So if you can start early and afford an incremental approach, fabulous! If you don’t, just remember that you’re not alone – and that our experience proves it can be done.