“A startup is a company designed to grow fast.” In fact, Graham goes on to say that “if you get growth, everything else tends to fall into place.”
On one hand, you have an increase in sales and are starting to make a name for yourself. On the other hand, you have to a lot of scaling, which means the inevitable organizational and managerial changes.
Regardless of how beneficial or detrimental acceleration has been, you have to be able to sustain these challenging changes. But, how do you do it? No worries. Here are some tips on how to manage a fast-growing company.
1. Medium-term goal to roll with.
When planning out your business, you’ve probably created plenty of short-term and long-term goals, but have you planned out any medium-term goals?
- A long-term vision and mission – the future state you want your career to be and how you achieve it, based on your professional values.
- A series of medium-term objectives in support of that vision. These are the three to five-year milestones and goals that serve as the stepping-stones to that vision.
- Short-term “plateaus” you can seek — skills, experiences, or accomplishments you can seek in the one year to 18-month timeframe to help you achieve the medium-term objectives.
Hsu adds that your long-term vision and mission are actually a series of medium-term objectives. When your company grows too fast, it’s easy to skip these medium-term objectives because you’re seemingly forced to change goals. According to entrepreneur Iain Johnson in The Times, “Many fast-growth business leaders change their goal too often, never quite completing a plan before starting the next one. So set a medium-term goal and deliver it.”
2. Happy Customers.
No matter what stage your startup is currently in, you can never stop listening to your customers. As Johnson states, “Customers have the most relevant ideas, the most immediate feedback, they are increasingly happy to help (through social media) and they pay the bills. So put in place a formal approach to listening to customers all the time and acting on their input.”
3. Good Mentor.
A mentor with experience as an entrepreneur or business executive can take a lot of weight off your shoulders. You have the benefit of their experiences and the advice of someone who has been there before.
Don’t let your ego or pride get in the way. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs have had mentors along the way. Gates had Buffet and Zuckerberg had Jobs, for example. As Richard Branson stated, “So please, take it from me: no matter how incredibly smart you think you are, or how brilliant, disruptive or plain off-the-wall your new concept might be, every start-up team needs at least one good mentor.”
4. Best Team.
I can’t emphasize this enough; having team members who are smarter than you is essential for a fast-growing company. It will be your team, not just simply your product and business strategy, that will steer your company to success. While I’ve discussed how to build a great startup team in the past, constructing a team at this moment in your company is slightly different.
5. Consider financial implications.
As your business quickly expands, there are a number of financial implications that you need to take into consideration. Terri Levine, a business mentoring expert, explains on QuickBooks, that she advises her “clients to collect all outstanding debts quickly, decrease prices by 10 to 15 percent, think about refinancing or borrowing money, offer customers discounts for prompt or upfront payments, and reduce costs by eliminating unnecessary overhead.” Levine also recommends you keep on eye on key performance indicators, “maintain an inventory of the predictable products that sell the best,” and consider signing a short-term lease if you need a larger space.