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Utah entrepreneurs crack the code of startup businesses

It’s been one of the most interesting developments in the past decade or so: the startup boom. It’s something that’s been seen in Utah as well as other parts of the country, as more new businesses begin from a humble place.

A big challenge in becoming an entrepreneur is growth, and how to do it right. Utah Business magazine has published a story with advice from the Silicon Slopes organization on how to make a start-up work in the best way, growing steadily and bringing in hope for its future.

Helping steady the course is also something that First Utah Bank does, including through our merchant services. These services provide ways that you can securely manage and forecast your cash flow as you continue to thrive in the booming Utah business world.

The three big things for new businesses to remember

The Utah Business article begins with a startling statistic: The company Blue Raven Solar started five years ago with $100,000 in annual revenue, but in 2019, had revenue of more than $100 million. The company’s leaders shared three specific routes to success that they traversed in order to get to that place where success came knocking in such a major way.

The first point is about the business model. Blue Raven started by working with residential customers, but farming out installation and other aspect to other companies. This ended up being an issue when there were delayed projects and complex relationships that had to be managed by a company with few assets.

What they did was to shift so they could work directly with customers, and a key move in that direction was hiring more employees with more direct roles. Blue Raven now has about 1,000 employees, but it has also gained more control over the product it delivers.

The second contribution to Blue Raven’s success was using a great resource for Utah businesses on the move — home state software developers. At first, the company wasn’t sure it needed its own software, but it became clear that it was essential for providing the type of systems that wowed customers who were interested in solar. “Blue Raven Solar systems are the backbone of a better experience for every stakeholder in our ecosystem,” a company spokesman wrote in the Utah Business piece.

The third big way that the company found success: human resource leadership. The company made an early mistake here, in that early on it emphasized product, marketing, fulfillment, accounting and sales, followed closely by legal and compliance. What company leaders forgot was HR. 

“Human Resources shouldn’t be ‘added’ when you reach a certain number of employees,” the spokesman wrote. “A great HR leader is essential to unlocking the value and talent of your most important asset, which is your team. And they should be present uncomfortably early on.”

Blue Raven secured solid HR about a year later than it should have done, and now recommends having an HR leader on the team from the start. It’s also important that the human resource professionals be curious about all aspects of your business, beyond just bringing in the best talent. “Find one who asks what your sales were last week, or what your operations cost you last month,” the spokesman wrote. “Don’t hire an HR leader who doesn’t first check the business aptitude boxes.”

Value beyond just profits

There’s one other message that the leaders of Blue Raven wanted to impart: Make sure you figure out your business’s values. The three that the solar company chose were to: Develop a High-Trust Culture, Be Efficient and Continuously Improve. Beyond that, the company also has several sub-sets of values that help employees and leaders know how to handle a variety of challenges that may come their way.

The writer gave one example: “Value 1d for us is ‘disagree constructively,’” the writer states. “I have often thought about this value when tempted to ‘go along’ with something that doesn’t sit right with me. Because of this value, I will vocalize my thoughts, even when unpopular or uncomfortable. I’ve seen others do the same.”

How merchant services make Utah business run smoothly

First Utah Bank knows what you may need in order to keep business growing at a steady pace, and it also can make it easier to manage your own business. Our merchant services bring financial matters under one umbrella, and they are run by a team that knows and understands your distinctive needs as a Salt Lake City or rural Utah business owner.

We offer merchant services for credit and debit card payments in restaurants, retail, telephone orders, mail order, internet or mobile purchasing. There’s also online software and payment gateways, check processing services, pre-designed or custom gift cards, and EMV and NFC point-of-sale terminals. All of your websites, credit card terminals and virtual terminals can be in sync with First Utah Bank’s business checking account, where you can deposit funds directly after a purchase.

Let us help you make running a small business easier, at least when it comes to the finances. Learn more at our website, or call First Utah Bank at 801-308-2265.