Are peer-to-peer relationships key to helping startups break through the £1M ceiling?

Startups breaking the £1M ceiling gain credibility, attract better talent, and reduce risk. Peer-to-peer relationships are key.

An old axiom in investing circles is that getting to your first million dollars is the hardest. That’s because, whatever you start with, the compounding growth needed for that first million is going to be exponentially higher than the subsequent millions. The same, broadly speaking, is true for business. Getting from zero revenue to £1 million is much harder than getting from £1 million to £2 million. The one big difference is that it can be even more difficult in business because, unlike most investors, you’re starting from zero. 

Key Takeaways

  1. For startups, reaching the first £1 million in revenue is often the hardest due to a lack of track record and established networks.
  2. Breaking through the £1 million ceiling is crucial as it offers various benefits like economies of scale, increased credibility, and access to a broader talent pool.
  3. Support, mentorship, and strong peer-to-peer networks can accelerate the process of reaching this milestone.
  4. The network success hypothesis suggests that entrepreneurs with broad, supportive social networks tend to be more successful.

For first-time entrepreneurs, that level of difficulty is compounded even further. They might, for instance, lack a track record that they can use to demonstrate their abilities to prospective clients. They may also lack the networks that more established entrepreneurs can leverage for business success. That’s to say nothing of the day-to-day challenges faced by entrepreneurs, from fulfilling a rush of new orders, deciding how to move into new markets, or figuring out how to make payroll. 

But with the right support and mentoring those roadblocks can be overcome and businesses can be put on an accelerated path that will see them break through the magical £1 million ceiling much quicker than they otherwise would. 

The importance of £1 million 

Before digging into what that support and mentorship might look like, it’s important to dig a little bit deeper into why breaking through the £1 million ceiling is so important. Beyond the increased ease of scalability, getting past £1 million in revenue offers a number of significant benefits to businesses. 

First, getting to this point means that it’s better able to achieve economies of scale that can help to increase profitability. With more revenue, the business can invest in new products, expand into new markets, and develop new sales channels, all of which can help to drive profits higher. 

Secondly, businesses that have gone past £1 million in revenues have increased credibility. That’s because it’s seen as established and, therefore, more trustworthy by customers, investors, and partners. That means more opportunities to grow and scale. 

Another big benefit is access to talent. Make no mistake, there are people out there willing to take a risk (and it is a risk) on working for a business that’s in the early stages of its growth journey. But once it gets past the £1 million revenue mark that risk feels, well, a lot less risky. As a result, the available talent pool opens up considerably. 

Acceleration through support 

Of course, a business could get there on its own; plenty of companies have done so over the years. But it’s a lot more likely to get there with the right support and mentorship. 

Whilst the importance of connection and network is no radical or new idea, the network success hypothesis has been around for decades. The hypothesis states that those entrepreneurs with a “broad and diverse social network and who receive much support from their network are more successful ”. Since this publication, many others have expanded upon the notion to unpack its many nuances, but the fact still remains; network and community are fundamental. In fact, we need only look to, well, all of history to understand the impact human connection has on cultures, societies, politics and of course economies. 

But now we exist in the modern day, having survived a pandemic which cost us these valuable connections. Now more than ever, entrepreneurs need to value those around them to help forge the success they have dreamed of. 

Finding like-minded individuals hoping to push their business past that £1 million mark is essential to your being able to achieve it too. Moreover, connecting with those entrepreneurs who have already exceeded on this journey offers access to direct learning, mentors, and a peer-to-peer network, whether formal or informal. I should know too. I’ve experienced it first-hand. 

In 2019, I joined the EO Accelerator. Run in more than 50 cities around the world, the EO Accelerator is a learning plan for entrepreneurs who want to grow their business beyond £1 million. It also allows access to direct learning, mentors, and a peer-to-peer network.

As a result, I scaled my market research agency to become a full EO member in 2020. That, in turn, has given me access to the most incredible network of entrepreneurs who have experience in a seriously diverse array of fields. I learn something in every meeting, at every gathering, and through every blog that EO organises and puts out. 

Entrepreneurship is often seen as an individual pursuit, but like everything in human nature, it requires connection and collaboration to succeed. Thousands have already proved the success of networks, now it is up to the next generation of entrepreneurs to seek them out, wherever they may be.  

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Jane Hales
Jane Hales

Co-Founder of Sapio Research and Accelerator Chair of EO London