by Philip Acuña
A startup’s ability to scale its services in response to increasing demand is one of the most important factors in determining its success. While certain processes and strategies may have worked for a business early on, a rapidly increasing customer base and the increased bandwidth needed in response will often bring those very same process to their natural breaking point.
As such, its important for every startup to develop its services with the anticipation of success, creating a plan for how to scale when the time comes. If no such plan is in place, its best to develop one as soon as possible in case your inability to keep up with demand begins affecting the quality of your services.
We spoke with eight successful startup CEOs and asked what methods they used for scaling their services to meet increasing demand. Here’s their advice:
“Looking to scale is a “rinse and repeat” function, as a start-up the job is to identify a repeatable and scalable business model. The key to this is validation, validation, validation Validate the customer problem, validate the solution your product provides, and validate the opportunity size. Once you have these 3 validations, with a few sales, or commitments, then the scaling is on!”
– Ian Naylor, AppInstitute
2. Maintain Culture.
“As being a CEO of the company that is currently growing steadily in the existing market and scaling internationally, I have learnt a few important teachings to accommodate this fast growth:
1. Introducing/Maintaining the culture: As the startup evolves and the head count in the team increases, it becomes essential to introduce and maintain best practices early on. Most of the times, founders make a mistake of not executing this and it becomes a massive set back later on.
2. Burn rate: Seeing company grow fast is both exciting and overwhelming experience. Even though the growth is rapidly increasing, the burn rate can equally increase too so its essential to plan advance and evaluate the options based on that.
3. Customer Service: Scaling a startup is an excellent milestone but a few times, it becomes challenging to keep up with the same level of customer satisfaction and it could be disastrous for a startup to compromise on that.”
– Muneeb Mushtaq, AskforTask
3. Scale With Agility.
“Scale with agility in mind especially if you have only experienced increasing demand for a short amount of time. Scaling is key but make sure you are doing it for the right reasons, not just because short-term success has decreased your interest of working a little more each day. Also, scale smartly. The culture quality of your team as it scales is critical.”
– Tim Nichols, ExactDrive
4. Hire Talent.
“I would say that hiring talent is were the story begins. It is like being the architect of your own company. If you start building a sustainable base, you’ll be able to make it grow exponentially with more security, strength and the best image possible. Young talents is what makes your startup get the energy that is necessary to grow.
Besides talents, I would say that being focused on a specific goal at a time is important. Once you’ve reached this objective, you can go on with another one. Walking step by step without trying to jump in a larger pool too quickly is essential. It’s how startup should tap the markets they target. One at a time. There is no need to be too greedy. Things will come to those who put their heart at work.”
– Alexandre Rambaud, Agendize
5. Anticipate Success.
“One of the best advice for CEOs looking to scale their startups to meet increasing demand would be to make sure that they get to this point already prepared for it in advance. This is one of those things that are analogous to a presidential post election speech. Before the last day of polling you should already have prepared your two speeches. One for conceding to the opponent, of which you hopefully will not be needing. Then another one for the victory speech, which you will hopefully be needing and will be executing flawlessly and graciously.
Anticipate the potential success and then meet it with efficacy when it finally arrives. After all the whole point of building your startup is to one day reach this point.”
– Wallen Mphepo, Ishuu
6. Prioritize Customer Satisfaction.
“Internally – Surround yourself with the absolute best talent you can find that are willing to sacrifice like it is their own company. It will elevate your business immensely.
Externally – Focus on keeping customers happy. Even though your company might be scaling quicker than you can handle, real human sincerity is invaluable. People just want to know they are in good hands.”
– Jonny Videl, Callsheet Operator
7. Hire Proactively.
“For scaling the startup, the most important advice would be to “Be proactive about hiring the talent/recruit.” You need to recruit not only for their skills but they must also share the same passion for the idea behind your startup. Where every startup is on a hunt for top talent, you can’t afford to lose your employee. So, increase focus on your present as well as new recruits and invest on them.
You must not only give them better paychecks than your competitors, but also make sure that they get that zealous work environment they strive for. As they are the only ones who will scale your startup to make it into a company.”
– John, Overam
8. Take Care Of Little Problems Before They Become Big Problems.
“When WORKetc really started to build velocity as we scaled, we found that the bugs in our code also scaled with the same velocity. So, with say a hundred somewhat active customers, a particular bug might get reported once a month. That bug would sit on a list and because it was infrequent and low-impact, we’d classify it as super-low-priority.
But with 10,000 highly active users, that once-a-month bug was now a several-times-a-day bug. And there wasn’t just one of these, there were hundreds of once low-priority issues that had also scaled right there alongside the business.
In hindsight this should have been obvious, but we had just never considered that a business that is scaling up also means low-impact problems also scale up at the same rate.”
– Daniel Barnett, Worketc
Philip Acuña is a journalist and PR strategist based in Medellin, Colombia. He has previously worked for organizations including the California Immigrant Policy Center and Colombia Reports.