Growth can be exciting – but it can also get messy. This is why you have to think about scale. You need consider how big you are now, where you want to get to, how many stages this will take and how to get between them. Growing at the right scale and pace is key for a startup – you can’t suddenly leap up to become a huge corporation and taking on a big workforce before you’re ready will add a big burden to your costs.
But, what’s the key to getting this process right? How do you scale up at the right pace and manner as a startup?
Get the timing right
Growing prematurely has caused many startups to fail. Timing is imperative. You should only hire when you can afford to do so. There are three key signs of this:
- Your revenue is growing at a steady rate and you have the cash in your budget to afford to hire.
- Your workload is increasing and you need the extra capacity or skills that a new hire could bring.
- You have identified revenue opportunities that you cannot take on because you don’t have the capacity to fulfil the orders.
This last point can be difficult to define, but may form part of a wider business plan with projections that show the work you aim to win and what it would take to win this (including from a manpower perspective).
Your business plan might also wish to consider hiring in the short, medium and long term so that you can get the scaling of this right. The important message here is that it’s very difficult to inject a large number of people into a startup – from a cost and management perspective. Staggering the growth allows you to:
- Concentrate on each individual hire
- See how one person settles in before you make a decision on the next member of the team
- Avoid taking on too much cost in one go
- Build a team that gels
- Be flexible enough to change your plans if your circumstances change
Work out if it’s worth it
Those factors can show whether or not it’s the right time, but you might also want to consider a more detailed analysis of the cost of hiring.
As a startup, your time is as important as your finances. So much so it should be treated as a currency. While you’re working through your strategy you should work calculate how long each task is going to take to complete. Once you’ve done this, you can use the sum to calculate your return on investment.
You may find that investing in recruitment tools will help you reduce wasted time and the time it takes to recruit.
Define your culture and use your employees as talent spotters
To scale naturally and to ensure steady growth, you should build on and define your company’s culture by hiring people who fit your vision. Ideally, you should have already defined your culture before making your first hire, which would have allowed it to bloom naturally and positively. But, if you haven’t you can find out how to build it here.
From hiring to decision making; ensure you’re emulating your culture throughout your business. With this, it can be productive to cultivate the idea that recruitment is everyone’s responsibility. If it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep a lookout for potential talent, hiring will seem less like a lengthy task and the message is clear here ‘you’re our type of people, can you find us more people like you’ which can be motivating to your existing employees and give you more ‘eyes and ears’ when it comes to find talent.
Look at your existing employees
Before you recruit, it’s a good idea to define your existing employees’ responsibilities. This is because, in the early stages, many of your employees will wear several hats. By mapping out your existing employees’ responsibilities and skill sets, you’ll be able to see where the gaps are, which will ultimately help you choose the best type of candidate to invest in.
Not only this, by laying your employee’s skills on the table, you can identify the priorities for recruitment, which will help when considering scale and managed growth.
Streamline the interview process
Typically the most lengthy part of hiring someone new is the collective time it takes to interview candidates. Streamline this process to obtain an effective interview each time.
The less labour intensive your process is, the better. Scaling up is not just about who you hire, it’s about how you hire. Until you’ve got the scope to spend lots of time and money on recruitment then you need to find a way that doesn’t drag on your resources.
By creating and calculating a strategy early on, you’ll be in a good place to build your startup, scaling up gradually as you go.
You’ll be able to see if you can afford to take on new employees and easily adapt processes along with the rapid change in your business growth.
Here are some key takeaways:
- Ensure you can afford to employ someone new by calculating the ROI of potential employees.
- Consider the recruits you’d need in the short, medium and long term to fulfil the aims of your business plan.
- Analyse your existing workforce – however small that may be – and be sure to hire people with the right skills for your needs.
- Streamline the process so that you’re not diverting too many resources to recruitment.