Built to grow. Enabling scaleup from startup stage

Over the past few months we have been enjoying the new Upscale book from Tech Nation, which outlines what it takes to scale a startup by the people who have done it. One of the subthemes across the book covers how decisions made at the start of your journey can affect your business at the growth stage  We outlined our top 3 insights here.

1. Prepare early for future team restructures.

As a startup, talent acquisition is likely to be a key challenge. As you are competing against top organisations who are able to offer higher wages, startups often have the tendency to use big job titles as unique talent propositions.

Although useful to attract initial talent, this tactic can cause complications in the longer term. During the growth stage, organisations might need to hire more experienced individuals. If senior job titles have already been allocated to existing staff, restructuring of roles may be necessary. If not handled well, this can be disheartening for existing staff and cause feelings of demotivation.

To address these challenges, startups may develop early plans or ideas about how to handle such difficult conversations. In addition, they may emphasize their work culture (fostering employee loyalty) and hire employees based on shared vision rather than just job title and skills. This can help build trust and a collective vision of growing the company, which can assist with having transparent conversations about team restructures when they are needed for company growth in the longer term.

2. Taking investment and your role as CEO

Just like you might have to ask members of staff to ‘welcome’ a more seasoned individual to the team, you as founder might be asked to step down as CEO in place of an experienced growth director.

These suggestions often come from investors who are used to assisting startups into scaleups. Before taking on investment, entrepreneurs can therefore have a think how comfortable they would be step down as CEO in the longer term. Having conversations with investors about their attitudes or habits toward these changes can be useful prior securing a deal, as well as building relations with them to developing trust. If you do have concerns about investor ‘habits’ of replacing CEOs during scale-up stage, you can ask for references of investees to learn about their experiences.

3. Use the data from now to inform your growth strategy of tomorrow.

As a startup, you will be gathering a lot of data. This data can be useful to gain insights on how real people use your products and what retention rates are like. If you are embedding a ‘scatter gun approach’ (which refers to targeting multiple audiences to broaden your reach), you can determine which audiences are more likely to provide a return on investment.

When scaling, you can use this data to better refine your product-market fit and growth strategy. This means that when starting up, it could be useful to consider how you can measure product usage and your marketing campaigns to help you determine which growth areas or target segments to focus on when you want to expand in the longer term.

Thank you Tech Nation for providing us with the Upscale book. For more insights and to learn more about scaling up by the people who’ve done it, get your copy today on Amazon.

To hear from other scaleup entrepreneurs in person, visit our Newcastle Scaleup Summit on ‘day 4’ of Newcastle Startup Week. Tickets are available now for £75 (giving you access to both the Scaleup Summit and Startup Week!) via Eventbrite.

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