Rapid startup growth can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, your sales are up and you're getting recognized for all the hard work you've put into building your company. On the other hand, having to scale your business at an accelerated pace — and dealing with the organizational and managerial challenges that come with it — can be overwhelming to a new entrepreneur.
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For Greg Skloot, the 23-year-old co-founder of event management software company Attend.com, the answer to managing his startup's rapid growth was bringing in a team of senior executives with a wealth of business experience he didn't yet have.
"Young, creative team members give startups great energy, but they've likely never dealt with investors or overseen the hiring process," Skloot told Business News Daily. "That's why any new company looking to scale needs to find experienced senior executives to guide the business forward, particularly when product-market is found and the startup is ready for serious growth."
Having a balance of ages and experience levels on staff will improve your company because it allows people to cater to their strengths, Skloot said. The younger employees can execute and brainstorm new ideas, while executives can use their years of experience to advise on company strategy, planning and growth. As long as every team member is on board with the company vision and culture, hiring a mix of people will help your company grow quickly and effectively. [4 Steps to Building a Winning Startup Team]
Once you bring in these new advisers, you'll need to step back and focus on the bigger picture, which requires some changes to the way you approach your business.
Skloot offered the following tips to help young entrepreneurs adjust.
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- Hire people who are smarter than you. On a small team, every person is an important part of the business. Early hiring mistakes can cause a lot of trouble in the future as the business scales, so it's crucial to recruit the absolute best people available. Hire people who are smarter than you to run each department so you can focus more on the overall strategy. You can find great candidates by consistently reaching out to your network, using social media, and leveraging your investors for introductions.
- Keep things organized. During growth mode, lack of organization can be detrimental and slow everything down. Put in the extra effort to make sure everything is clearly organized, documented and available to the team. This might include processes like how to onboard a new customer, or a routine that ensures all signed contracts are scanned and placed in a certain shared folder. Once you have room in your budget, consider hiring an executive assistant to take these types of day-to-day administrative tasks off your plate.
- Prioritize and stay focused. Fast growth brings many opportunities, some of which you may need to turn down. It's not easy to say no, but you have to do it and do it a lot. Make sure the team is focused on your annual/quarterly goals, metrics, mission and vision. Anything that doesn't align with that is a distraction that will slow you down.
- Don't overlook the details. Be sure to pay close attention to the details and don't let them get lost in the shuffle as you grow. Details can make or break a company, and you must keep them in mind as your workload piles up. As the team grows, you can delegate the details to some of your new employees so the burden doesn't all fall on you.
- Measure everything. It'seasy to keep track of things when you're small. Fast growth adds a new challenge, making measurement a necessity. Great entrepreneurs define clear key performance indicators (KPIs) for each department and sometimes each employee at the company so they always have a view on what is working and what needs improvement. This might include metrics like cost to acquire a customer, lifetime customer value, average sales price, revenue per employee, etc.
- Constantly communicate. People are afraid of the unknown. As a leader, you can alleviate that fear by constantly communicating and sharing key information with your team. This ensures that nothing slips through the cracks as you continue to grow.
Originally published on Business News Daily.
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