Startups face a number of growing pains while finding their footing —  from marketing, to working with investors, to the other various things they may overlook when first setting up their businesses.

Tech City News hosted a panel today in London that dug into the main growing pains startups face. The panel, which was part of London Technology Week, featured several industry experts, each with a different background and area of expertise:

  • Mary Ellen Dugan – CMO at WP Engine
  • Laurence Parry – Tax Partner at Kreston Reeves
  • Ben Rose – Insurance Director at Digital Risks
  • Adrian Rainey – Partner at Taylor Wessing
  • Jill Miller – Research Advisor at CIPD

Here are four takeaways from the panel.

Get the basics right

Among other considerations, legal issues relating to intellectual property and share holdings should be addressed from the get-go. Make sure a contract is in place for intellectual property. This will alleviate potential problems down the road.

It’s also important to make sure the share capital is properly divided between founders and/or early employees before seeking out an investor.

Adrian Rainey suggests addressing any “elephants in the room” that may be specific to your company early on. By removing these points of friction, you put your company in a position to better work with investors.

Establish leadership in global locations early

The panel discussed several details to consider when working with a distributed team. ] Jill Miller of CIPD recommended that companies should establish leadership and basic HR requirements early on within global offices to help build their presence in other locations. Miller also emphasized the importance of work-life balance, particularly when it comes to working with remote employees. Often times, time zones can be overlooked, which leaves an employee in a position where they are working long hours to communicate with folks from different offices.

This will help create consistency within the company and set your company and team up  to deliver excellence as quickly as possible.

Be selective when choosing an investor

While it may be tempting to take the first offer from an investor, it’s important to do your research before selecting one to  make sure their goals and vision align with yours.

“It is as much about you choosing the investor as it is about the investor choosing you,” Taylor Wessing’s Rainey said.

It’s never too early to hire a marketing specialist

WP Engine CMO Mary Ellen Dugan emphasized the importance of establishing your brand early. Identify your company’s purpose and determine how you’re linking it to your product. Honing in on these issues will help you build your perspective as a company.

“Perception is reality… make sure [your company’s] perception is as strong as it possibly can be,” Dugan said.

This should be done in a variety of ways, with a digital presence at its center, as it is a place to highlight your brand and showcase that your customers come first. It’s also important to ensure that your perception is ongoing, and that you’re constantly improving and evolving your digital presence.