We see it again and again, and it’s often the fault of investors. A promising technology, a talented team, and what would otherwise be a great young company fail. A life science tool doesn’t become the blockbuster it was pitched as, and because the company was created with the vision of huge sales numbers that never materialized, it goes under. Often it doesn’t go under until multiple additional rounds of financing are pumped into the fledgling company. The company never goes into the black because everyone bet too big, and everyone loses.
You don’t have to have a blockbuster product to be a successful life science tools company. Realism is every bit as important as ambition. If you bet big then you often grow too fast, take on too many liabilities, and end up with a structure that relies on a great deal of success to support. If you can employ lean operations and build success a little at a time, however, your life science tools company will have far more staying power.
We know that not every company or technology is amenable to slow growth. Some take massive resources just to develop and therefore necessitate a bigger payout. However, every company can, in some way, become leaner. In doing so, you can greatly reduce your business and financial risk.
The specific ways that companies can / should lean their operations is heavily dependent on each company’s needs and situations, but we’ve provided a few ideas just to get your creative energies flowing:
• Outsource! (administrative duties, financial / billing, warehousing, manufacturing, etc)
• Leverage a contract (commission-based) sales force, or only sell through distributors
• Release beta units into the market with fewer features to test both the market and your technology prior to full product launch
• Virtual operations
With leaner operations, young life science companies can reduce the threshold to becoming sustainable and successful. Planning on rapid growth or huge sales feels good, and sounds good to investors, but often leads to unnecessary risk taking.