To a young startup founder or CEO, dealing with rapid growth sounds like a rich man’s problem, but the reality is that rapid growth can be the start of the end for a startup, unless it is handled the right way.
The early days of startup founders are spent dreaming of the chance to showcase their product or solution on an enterprise’s infrastructure and proving once and for all that their great idea or incredible solution works. However, all that focus on the success of a PoC means very little time is spent towards understanding the meaning of that success – and most importantly, the way to leverage it to long-term success.
On paper, a successful PoC leads to an investment round which drives forward rapid growth and a successful future for the startup. In actuality, most companies have a lifespan of 20 months and a financing round around $1.3 million before closing the doors.
The good news is that there are steps that can be taken in order to ensure growth is handled properly and post PoC success doesn’t spell future failure.
Expand your Vision in Terms of Strategy
When startups are in the development phase, the focus is often on the short term; sort the bugs, finalize the beta, connect to the enterprise, launch the PoC… everything is in short increments and the basic idea is to always survive another day.
Post PoC success, it is important to shift the thought process from being short-term focused and start exploring medium and long term strategies that can help guide the company to success. Instead of looking at the next month to three months, a shift must be made in which goals, objectives and strategy are outlined for the next 2-3 years.
Having a clear vision and mission and medium to long term outlook can help drive a growing startup in the right direction and better equip founders to deal with rapid growth.
Spend Time on Early Hires
Patrick and John Collision, co-founders of the $5 billion payment processing company Stripe said that they spent “months agonizing over their first ten hires,” recognizing that they would make the most impact on the company as it grew.
Startups looking to tackle rapid growth the right way should take a lesson from the Collision brothers and implement a company culture they want to adhere as they grow. Part of that process involves making the right hires early on rather than finding the cheap labor or the immediately available employee. The right initial hire will grow into a department head or team leader that can drive forward new innovation and meet company missions and goals.
Don’t Assume You Have all the Answers
If Bill Gates had someone to learn from – so do you!
As a startup founder achieving some success, it is important to remember that you still have much to learn and that there is no shame in asking for guidance and mentorship. If Warren Buffet found time to help a Harvard dropout build his business, focus on the long-term goals and become one of the richest men in the world, you too will find a mentor willing to give you his time, wisdom and experience in order to help you succeed.
Beyond having someone to consult with on growth issues, mentors can help founders deal with internal intricacies that arise, miscommunication issues, strategy direction and overall mechanisms to coping with success.
Do Not Rush
Ultimately, the most important thing to remember when undergoing rapid growth is that it does not have to be unmanageable. Despite being able to onboard new clients, bring in new acquisitions and increase your user or client base, sometimes it is important to slow down and ensure the customers you are bringing in and the clients you are acquiring are brought in at the lowest possible CPA and have the best customer experience.