What happens when your startup is ready to grow? As a startup, your early days are filled with defining your audience, refining your product, and getting customers. But what happens when you get all of that right, and you realize you’re poised for major growth? That’s when you’re ready for the 6 keys to scaling your startup effectively.
Scaling is a very critical but delicate process. Scaling is critical to your success as you grow, because that way you can be agile. You don’t want to push too hard. The goal is to pace yourself and your company with your growth. Scaling also can help you to respond quickly up or down, depending on what the market demands. You’re never stuck just in growth mode, charging full speed ahead, which could lead to wasting money and resources if demand drops off or the economy takes a dive.
But being able to nimbly scale up will help you achieve lasting growth while making the best use of your resources. There are core principles that every scaling startup should be familiar with. Remember these 6 keys to scaling your startup effectively as you’re prepping for your next phase of growth.
Focus on your people
Your people are what make your company run. They interact with your customers and clients. They represent you. They perform the day-to-day operations that keep the wheels turning and the money coming in.
When it’s time to scale, focus on hiring the right people. A bad hire is going to cost your money and time in recruiting and training. Even worse, the wrong person creates a negative impact on morale, productivity, and much more. The right people, however, are only going to help you move your company forward.
What kind of people are the “right” people? People who:
- Don’t need to be managed
- Are more skilled than you at the job they are being hired to do
- Fit with your culture
- Are passionate about your industry, product, and company
- Have a great personality and strong work ethic
When you do find the right person, make onboarding a celebration! Their first day should be special and their training should be clear and thorough. It’s not fair to just expect people to “hit the ground running.” They need to be given guidelines, training, and clear direction before they can run. Focusing on onboarding and training makes new hires feel valued and helps them properly adjust to the environment.
Finally, as you build your team, make sure you also build a collaborative and fun workplace culture. Culture is one of the most valuable things to have, because it breeds loyal, happy employees. Happy employees are more likely to care — and to take care of your customers. A strong, unique culture also helps differentiate you from your competitors, allowing you to attract (even poach) top talent.
Stand behind your mission and values
Your mission statement is designed to be what gets you out of bed every morning and what drives every decision you make. If your mission statement is not as strong as it should be, it’s ok to revisit it and create one that works better and has more purpose.
Your core values are what set the tone for your culture and act as a guide for how your employees should conduct themselves. Every employee should know your mission statement and core values. Your statement and values should be displayed somewhere in the office as a daily reminder.
You’re still a startup, which means it’s still crucial to remain lean. Eliminate activities that don’t add value for your customers or clients, and focus on activities that do. This will keep you from over staffing your team.
Another important part of working smart is outsourcing non-essential roles. Yes, big corporations keep designers, accountants and lawyers “in house” but for smaller companies, time and money are better spent outsourcing these items to experts.
Scaling up means more than hiring. It means building a well-oiled machine that will be able to handle the business no matter how big you get. That means documenting processes that can be repeated. Even better, automate all the processes you can, so your talented employees can focus on other more important, more specialized responsibilities.
Finally, create a routine and eliminate or delegate tasks that drain you. As the CEO, your focus should be guiding the organization towards the future. That means the day-to-day cannot be dependent upon you.
Hockey stick growth is great but it’s not sustainable. It’s better to set attainable goals and grow at a steady pace. Growing too fast can burn out your people, affect your customers, and risk losing the culture you set out to build. Make sure everyone enjoys the journey — it’s way more important than the destination.
Keep working on your marketing
Your marketing is always a work in progress. Make sure you are testing and measuring everything you do. Keep an eye on your industry and audience for changes.
Keep moving forward
No matter what, keep moving forward. Set goals, push towards them, and keep your employees looking towards the future. Yes, it’s important to learn from successes and failures. But ultimately, if you’re standing still, you’re falling behind.