Scaling the business is a top goal for many startups at a certain point. To get to the next level, it’s time to invest in the skills your company is missing, at a pace that isn’t too much, too soon. Since the people aspect of the business is both your most valuable and priciest resource, you’ll want to put attention on scaling your people as you scale your business.
What Do We Mean by Scaling?
Scaling puts the focus on growing the business with intention, in a cost-effective, efficient way. It requires laying down a foundation for supporting and enabling this growth, with streamlined, consistent processes; order in the financial operations; with the right people, systems, and partners in place. For emerging growth companies, shifting gears from survival mode to scaling requires big changes, including new faces—but that doesn’t mean you need to fully load up on payroll right away.
Scaling for Skills: What Do You Have, What Do You Need?
Take a look at your current employees and leadership team, and consider what skillsets you may need to bring in now and over time:
Evaluate everyone. Some of the people who were once a good fit for getting the company off the ground may not be right for the new version of the company. Look at the strengths and weaknesses within your staff. You may need to rethink some roles, add new ones, and consider how outsourcing can fill in some gaps, on a flexible basis. These evaluations may lead to tough calls if some employees are not able, or unwilling, to scale with the company.
Understand current and future gaps. What skills will make the company stronger starting today? What about the significant changes you’ll be pursuing? If an IPO is on the horizon, for example, does anyone on staff have experience working at a publicly traded company? The expectations and scrutiny are higher, and experience with all that entails will be needed.
Don’t underestimate the need for flexibility. For the immediate future, as the company adopts new processes and systems, you’ll want to know whether the people you have on board are adaptable and open to change. Changes are never easy, but some people are roadblocks. You want people who are excited to—or at least willing to—learn and adapt to new technologies and new ways of working (smarter, not harder).
Be forthcoming about the changes. Some employees will discover that the future version of the company is not for them. They simply may prefer working in a startup environment and are averse to adjusting to a more structured environment.
People Principles for Scaling
Follow these principles as you become aware of the people who want to grow with the company, and the fluctuating skills you will need to bring in:
Make a plan. How will you take the company from point A to point B? How will you fund any expansions without burning through too much cash? What skills are missing and need to be filled now, and what skills could be filled later? And which skills could be outsourced for a time before hiring someone full-time?
Build a great team and help them shine. Put effort into bringing out the best of those who are staying on board. The culture will shift as the company evolves but you can shape it into the kind of environment where people feel welcome, where they want to be their best selves and do their best work. Think about how the company can nurture the talents you have and keep everyone engaged. Let your star performers do what they do, and move out of the way so that they can shine.
Be creative with the skills you need. Outsourcing skills that are not core to the business (i.e., finance and accounting, marketing, IT) can help you supplement any missing skillsets that will help the company advance, build in cost control to your growth plans, and free up those star performers and other employees to focus on core functions.
Outsourcing provides optimum flexibility by reducing the risk of taking on full-time staffers for what could end up being a temporary need. When you find an outsourcing partner that can provide you with a range of talents and knowledge, you can access the level of expertise you need, when you need it.
Gaining Expertise, at the Right Level
For nearly 30 years, RoseRyan has helped hundreds of fast-moving companies achieve their growth goals, by helping them build practical plans; develop solid financial foundations; and supplement their skillsets with flexible, cost-efficient solutions. Access to expertise, at a part-time level in the beginning of the scaling effort, can help the company control costs and move at a sustainable pace. Then, as the company successfully advances with its plan, RoseRyan will train and transition incoming full-timers at the appropriate time. It’s one of the many ways we guide companies to greatness.
Ready to make a strategic move with your emerging growth company? Contact RoseRyan today to find out how we can help.
As Chair of RoseRyan, which she founded in 1993, Kathy Ryan guides our finance and accounting consulting firm’s overall mission, strategy, direction and investment decisions. She guided the firm for 26 years under an innovative business model, with flexible work arrangements coupled with a highly supportive, values-based culture, before naming David Roberson as chief executive in 2020. Kathy has been recognized as a thought leader, innovator and strategist, building upon her extensive CEO and CFO experience working with more than 50 Silicon Valley startups. Before RoseRyan, Kathy was director of finance at Quantum and tax manager at Price Waterhouse.