Published on February 12th, 2020 | by Bibhuranjan0
How to Survive the High-Speed Growth of Your Tech Company
All founders, CEOs, co-founders, and those who invest in tech companies dream of reaching a high-speed growth phase. What could be better? Growing at rapid speeds should mean rapid returns on investment, rapid raises, rapid sales, rapid everything.
What we rarely consider is the downside of rapid growth: employee churn, negative product reviews, entrepreneurial burnout, and the strain of keeping up with our own pace. And while it is certainly something to strive for, growing a tech company, and growing it at a fast pace at that, is by no means a walk in the park.
Let’s explore some of the precautions you can implement to ensure you survive the fast-paced growth or your company.
Have a plan in place for different stages of growth
Realizing this is one of those pieces of advice you hear over and over again, we’ll still place it at the top of our own list of advice.
Having a plan is arguably the most important aspect of growth – without one, you won’t be able to gauge how far you’ve come and what milestones have been achieved. Most importantly, you need it to figure out what needs to be done next.
A growth plan should entail all of the specifics about your company and the steps it needs to take to reach the next rung.
Let’s illustrate this point with an example.
Let’s say you have launched a new product, and it has been received incredibly well. Your customers are happy, you’re making a lot of sales, smiles are abundant.
Your growth plan should tell you how much you can take on when business increases. How many questions can your customer service reps handle a day, and when do you need to make a new hire? How much will that cost? Where will the new person sit? What tools do they need? How many bugs can your tech team fix in a month, and when does overtime need to be replaced by a new face on the team?
And so on.
Every cog in your machine needs to be susceptible to an upgrade. You need to know when the upgrade needs to take place and what it will require on your part. That way, when the rapid growth does take off, you won’t find yourself scrambling to keep things from falling apart.
Focus on opening up communication channels
One of the issues that often arise with growth is the breakdown of communication.
As everyone has more tasks on their plates, communicating becomes less important, meetings get rescheduled or canceled, and focusing on the work trumps letting each other know where you stand.
This can be detrimental, and not only because a lot of information – and very important information at that – can be lost in the shuffle. The situation can also be a breeding ground for misunderstandings, negative emotions, finger-pointing, and an overall breakdown in the chain of command.
Instead of letting things crumble, here are a couple of key practices to stick to:
- insist on keeping communication channels open
- hold regular meetings: once a month to check on general progress, once a week for smaller teams
- try to fit in some social time at the office (a community lunch every two weeks, for instance)
- make sure you never turn away those who have something to say.
It may seem that focusing on a particular issue is more important than listening to an employee, but it rarely is. Even if you need to reschedule a conversation, make sure you do so for the earliest time possible, and that you are ready to hear everyone out.
Focus on attitudes instead of results
This is not saying that you should not focus on results at all – but that sometimes the way someone does something is more important than what they have achieved.
There will be people among your staff who are good at what they do but are not the nicest human beings. And there will be those who are a joy to work with, but who don’t achieve the very top results.
Instead of focusing on what has been achieved, focus on the process and how much someone is investing in their job. After all, it’s much easier to teach someone how to be better at what they do than to be better at who they are.
People with drive and a willingness to learn should not be sidelined just because their results are not number one. In a time of high stress and rapid growth, these kinds of people can choose to leave because they feel unappreciated, and this can cause some serious setbacks.
Make sure the money is there
One of the things that can stop your growth short is a lack of funding.
Having a clear business plan in place should help you know exactly how much funding you need for each stage of your growth, and if you find you are in the red, reaching for different ways to fund your business should be at the top of your list.
Don’t let a lack of money slow you down – but don’t rush into fundraising blindly and without an endgame in sight. Know precisely how much is necessary, where it will be spent, and what kind of a return you can expect. Once you’re clear on that, you can look for the soundest option, based on amount, emergency, and payback rate.
Hire for fit, not just expertise
When you need to hire someone fast, you can tend to ignore the question of how this new person will fit into your existing team, and focus only on their ability to do the work.
While this can tide you over in the short term, and get you through your growth phase, it can harm you in the long run, as it may disrupt the energy you had going on.
When making a new hire, make sure you consider how they will mesh with the people they are going to be working with. Likewise, think about what they can bring to the table you don’t already have: both in terms of knowledge, skills, expertise, as well as personality, culture, and worldview.
Don’t look to hire purely those who are similar to the people you already have on board – try to find individuals who will bring something new to the exchange, and who can contribute in more ways than one.
Forget about micromanagement
Owners and founders can sometimes have the annoying tendency to hold on to the reins too tightly. This can not only cause them to burn out, but it can also be disruptive to the entire company.
As you start to grow, it will become increasingly difficult to make all of the decisions yourself, to keep one eye on every task, and know what is going on in every corner.
Learn how to delegate, and start spreading out responsibility as soon as you can. Not only will this inspire others to step up and take on more, but it will also free you up to focus on the most important tasks at hand.
If a manager makes a mistake or chooses to go down a route you personally would not take, don’t take it out on them or call them out. You’re not perfect yourself, so expecting the impossible from others, or expecting that they can somehow magically read your mind if you have not laid out clear guidelines, is not the road you want to be taking.
Growing pains are a real thing – so don’t let them come as a surprise and leave you out of breath and bruised. Plan ahead for growth, implement the steps we have outlined above, and focus on the achievements you’ve made thus far, rather than the failings. A positive mindset can be an excellent stepping stone to making the most of the high-speed growth of your company.