Founder and CEO, software design and development company TribalScale, Toronto.
You don't scale a business from zero to 100 employees in under one year without experiencing some bumps and growing pains along the way. Starting a company is exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time, and growing your business without breaking it is tough. It's even tougher when you realize that there's no one playbook for every founder and company to follow.
Here are five steps we took to ensure we transitioned (relatively) smoothly while scaling our business and team.
At 9:15 every morning, someone rings a gong in our office. All employees gather in a standup circle to share pieces of news, kudos, individual failures or screw-ups, and announcements. Even if that gong doesn't ring at 9:15, people still gather to do morning standup. Call them rituals, practices, processes, whatever you want, just make sure you have them right from day one. Do the things that make sense for your team and business. Create and foster them so that no matter who comes or goes, you will always have them.
Hire fast, fire faster
Adding the right people to your team as you scale your business is critical. A bad hire won't only set you back productivity-wise, it can also be harmful to your ever-changing and developing culture. To avoid being stuck in this vortex, adopt a hire-fast, fire-faster process. This sounds ruthless, but consider it one of the pain points you'll have to endure if scaling quickly is your top priority. In the long run, everyone is better off.
Have a solid plan …
To ensure we didn't break on the finance and operations side, we laid out a comprehensive road map across the business that covered top-line sales/revenue, expenses, and even head count. Even today, we're always closely tracking the health of the business and how we're moving toward the aggressive growth targets we've set for ourselves.
… But plan for the unexpected
More importantly, however, is understanding that all businesses evolve in ways you just can't plan for, so maintaining a high level of adaptability and flexibility and being able to course-correct quickly is key to scaling without falling apart – an "expect the unexpected" state of mind.
Work hard, play harder
If you're in one, you know all too well that they don't call it the "startup grind" for nothing. But just as it's crucial to work hard and "hustle," it's also important to put work down and have fun. We host quarterly team events such as beach days, boat cruises and karaoke nights, and Friday socials, because we know that team building is incredibly important, whether you're a team of five or a team of 75.
Anyone can start a business, but it takes a huge amount of effort and guts to scale the business up. Every company is different and, like most things in life, there is no one true way to ensure yours doesn't break when scaling. The path forward is challenging and fraught with uncertainty, but I promise it will be one of the most exhilarating and rewarding experiences of your life.