The ABCs of Scaling Your Business
There’s a lot of debate around what is considered the hardest part of growing your business, but what we can all agree on is that there is no shortage of pain points. In my opinion, the difficulty of growing your team of 10 to 20 is not talked about enough. At face value, it seems simple enough, the number isn’t overwhelming, it’s just 10 more people on the team, what’s so hard about that? But the cracks that begin to form in a business at that stage can act as sleeper cells that don’t show themselves until later on.
Let’s dive right into what happens in that stage of growth. For the first time in the business, leadership isn’t meeting with every single person weekly. Founders are natural visionaries and motivators, meeting with everyone weekly gives them the opportunity to (1) ensure the team knows exactly what the company is trying to accomplish, (2) how this individual is directly contributing to that goal, and (3) get direct feedback from the team. This interaction allows teams to move in the right direction, stay motivated, and feel heard. Once that’s gone, if leadership is not intentional about how they solve these problems, over time, as you grow, it can lead to a completely misaligned company, and leave leadership confused as to why the team is “unmotivated” or “slacking off”.
Now, we can spend years talking about the pros and cons of different management philosophies, but instead, let’s keep it simple. There are 3 things you can do that most management experts agree on:
- Clearly define your company’s mission and vision. Your mission statement is what you do today, it’s why the company exists, whereas your vision is where you want to be, all the things you want to accomplish as a company. The combination of those two things makes it crystal clear to your team what they do day-to-day and what they should strive to accomplish. Make sure you repeat it regularly, at every company-wide meeting, during events, etc. and do so with the same passion you would if you were in a 1:1 meeting with each employee.
- Set clear objectives for your team. 95% of the time, employees want to succeed. They want to do great work, be acknowledged, and compensated appropriately for it. Issues usually arise from employees not knowing what they’re supposed to be focusing on and if you leave it up to that, that may not necessarily be aligned with what you are hoping to accomplish. There are many ways to do this, but I’m a huge proponent of using OKRs. Start with setting company-wide objectives, then create department ones, and finally individual goals that all tie into each other.
- Create a formalized 2-way feedback loop. When you’re a small team, you generally know how everyone is feeling and can give/get daily feedback. As you scale, you won’t all be in the same room, you won’t always be working together, and you have new employees that don’t know you on a personal level. Build out a formalized process where employees can give feedback anonymously to you and where managers can give quarterly/ biannual performance reviews and feedback to employees.
Faye has spent the last 10 years in the startup ecosystem as a founder, employee #1 at VC backed startups, and as a venture capital investor. She’s currently the Founder of Faye Almeshaan Consulting, a fractional COO consultancy. Faye is an advocate for women’s rights, financial inclusion, and more funding for underrepresented founders. She also runs a community for Young Professionals of Color in Las Vegas. Faye received her MBA from University of Toronto and her Bachelors in Finance from Florida International University.
1 thought on “The ABCs of Scaling Your Business”
This is an insightful post Faye! As a founder myself, I can confirm that it’s super important to have a well-defined vision and mission as every stage.
I really liked the formalised 2-way feedback loop. Most times, feedback goes one way. But great founders give and take feedback. Making everyone feel heard and meeting their objectives at the same time.