Business growth used to be defined as a commensurate growth in profitability and size. The goal of the average company was to enlarge its workforce, open new locations and invest in new resources as these have always been perceived as essential for increasing revenue. One of the risks of this model was that if profit did not follow expansion, the company’s entire existence could be threatened.
Recently, the concept of scaling has found favour as an alternative. Here, the idea is to increase revenue while avoiding substantial new costs. The benefits of keeping overheads stable while boosting income need no explanation. Both start-ups and established businesses have successfully pursued scaling strategies to power their growth. Although it is different from traditional business growth, it is no easier. Instead of deep pockets, it requires sophisticated planning.
The Five Principles
The key features of successful scaling are having a strong culture, the right team, a shared vision, automation and – crucially – a willingness to structure. Let’s look at each in turn.
The visionary entrepreneur is in a unique position to establish the values of the business. Remaining true to those values will create a culture that supports the aims of the company and the interest and aspirations of its employees.
A start-up has the benefit of a blank page but even existing businesses can revisit the workplace culture to ensure it dovetails with policies and objectives. It’s about matching people to practice. Be sure that everyone who works for you shares your values and as you grow, the culture will grow with you.
This is closely allied to the idea of culture. If you engender an environment that is physically, ethically and psychologically attuned to both the business aims and the individuals hired to pursue them, it becomes much easier to carry your employees with you. Inspiring them not just to believe in their work but to take ownership and feel they have a personal investment in it will help to ensure a unity of vision, purpose and performance. Persuade them that the future is as important as the present.
The Right Team
Recruitment is one of the biggest challenges for any business, regardless of how long it’s been operating. It can be expensive and time-consuming and is not guaranteed to be fool-proof. However, everyone agrees it is essential.
While scalability is not about expanding the workforce, it will be heavily influenced by the calibre and type of people who make up your tech teams, marketing department and financial function. Get the right people in from the beginning and you may not need to add significantly to your workforce in order to scale.
The best outcome is to hire people who are more capable than you at the jobs you’ve hired them for. Your own strength may be coming up with ideas and building valuable relationships. You may not be the kind of person who excels at day to day operations and almost certainly not a financial wizard, but you don’t need to be if you can surround yourself with excellence instead.
So far, we’ve looked at the human attributes of a scalable company, but it is almost inconceivable that any business can scale up without leveraging the latest digital technology. Not only is automation a perfect alternative to a populous workforce, capable of carrying the tasks that entire cohorts had to do in years gone by, but it is much cheaper, faster and more accurate.
You may be the guiding light and source of ideas but you don’t want to be the support on which your employees depend – it will impede both you and them, stifling creativity and change. Imposing an effective management structure as early as possible will enhance your company’s capability. Separate key functions into Operations, Finance and Sales & Marketing, putting a single person at the head of each. This doesn’t preclude collaboration, but provides vital leadership.
If scaling is your aim, then speak to the experts at Tekna Search who have unrivalled experience in helping new and established businesses scale up and succeed. Tekna Search specialises in providing solutions to scale tech teams in New York. We understand that new projects or injections of funding leave a company with a need to resource multiple hires or even a whole team to hit KPIs or funding deadlines.
Our extensive catalogue of hypergrowth clients choose to work exclusively with us because we understand the DNA that delivers a successful team structure – from experience and technical skills down to cultural ﬁt. As your talent partner, our processes are designed to execute results.