5 Commandments of Scaling Your Startup

If you’ve ever launched your own business you’ll know what I’m talking about. We’ve all been there. Seed funding: check. Initial concept launch: check. First customers: check. Warm fuzzy feeling: check.

But then, the dreams start kicking. Dreams of a larger customer base, greater economies, higher revenues. A Bigger Business. And so, on to the next step. If for some reason you didn’t have one already, you probably booked yourself on the next train to cofounderville, pronto. The two of you bashed your heads together and hatched a plan. Where you want the business to be in five years time, how you’re going to get there and who you want to be there with you. Product market fit: check. Team expansion: check. Proof of defensibility: check. Series A funding: check. Check. Check. Check.

And suddenly, you can breathe again. It’s been agonising, yes, but you can finally get back to the yoga classes you haven’t found the time to go to since everything kicked off. A little morning meditation. After-work drinks with friends down at your local. Perhaps even date nights once a week. Hell, maybe even a holiday.

I’ll let you in on a little something I’ve learnt over the past year. There is no end to scaling your business. There is no end to the evolution, the refining process, the lack of sleep, the work. Scaling a startup is the single hardest thing you’ll ever do. Way harder than getting it off the ground to begin with. And so, in the name of compassion, please allow me to share with you my personal Five Commandments of Scaling Your Startup.

1. Give up your inner control freak. You might feel like you are capable of running several areas of your business but please trust me when I say that’s not the best use of your time. I had myself believing that I could be our financial controller. Until, like, last week. You can’t. Find the best people you can to run each area, incentivise them to do it to the best of their capacity and MTFO.

2. Hire the right people. If you’re going to build a business that can take on an industry, you need to surround yourself with rockstars. Each person on your team needs to own their department. Own it. You need to be persuaded that everyone on your team is the Best Person You Could Have Possibly Found for their particular job.

Who you hire in the early days will plant the seeds for what your team will look like later on. Look for team members who are resourceful enough tocome to you with solutions. Because problems will come up — every damn day — and you sure as hell won’t solve them all yourself.

3. Spend smart. To a certain extent, life is breezier when you’ve got cash in bank — and yet on the flip side of the same coin is a very slippery slope. Think of your budgets as extrapolations of your vision. If you aren’t able to keep within them, your startup will start to feel like a ship without a captain. I mentioned in an earlier blog post that I’m laughed at by my team for being such a scrooge. The truth is, there are worse things to be called when you’re running a business. If it’s not in the budget, you’re going to need an epic argument to get it in there.

4. Build your processes. You’re launching new products, testing new iterations, welcoming new users and growing your team. You will make mistakes. Previous processes will unravel — and you’ll have to design new ones. But write everything down. It’s never to early to have a process document for absolutely everything. Carry a notebook with you and WRITE IN IT. I can’t tell you how many times I thought I’d remember something that I later forgot. If you’ve just scaled your business, and you didn’t write all your learnings down, you may as well have stayed in bed.

5. Stick to your vision. Your culture is what you do best. It’s the reason you attract the users you do. It’s the foundation that keeps your team together when everything else is hitting the fan. It’s your identity. Unfortunately, it’s very easy for all of this to evaporate as your business is scaling. And please, don’t believe anyone who tells you that your culture can be found in the decor of your office. Trust me. We’re in the business of creating beautiful workspaces, but they’d be soulless without the values and the team behind them, and the people in them.

 


Originally Posted By: Huckletree

The truth is, there are many, many more tips that I (and many people who are both smarter and more experienced than me) could give you. I’ve learned through the startups in our community that there is no formula to successfully scaling. There are only best-practice behaviors that might give you a better chance of success. Scaling a startup is chaotic. Sleep will be scarce, stress-levels high, systematization mandatory and mealtimes irregular.

But don’t forget to stop every now and then, and just enjoy the journey.