Are you hesitant to bring on more team members? Do you feel lost when thinking of new product lines or expanding existing ones?
Every startup can potentially scale without fear.
Thankfully, those fears are unfounded. You can scale your operation without an incredibly large budget or a gracious angel investor. Scaling is truly a balancing act in which only the coolest heads prevail.
Yet there are a few things that can be done to make the entire process less confusing and frightening. Foremost, it is important to have a mentor or experienced professional on which you can learn when things get hectic or chaotic.
Mentors can help
You’re not alone. Even when you feel completely lost, there are people out there who can help guide you. All you have to do is ask. Mentors can be found everywhere, on LinkedIn, at industry conventions, or even at your local coffee shop.
Reaching out to retired executives, experienced product managers, and fellow entrepreneurs can be one of the best decisions you make for your startup. Having an outside perspective can be immensely helpful. You’ll get constructive feedback, industry connections, and maybe even a lifetime friendship.
Freelancers are always available
Startups and small companies sometimes hesitate to scale out of fear of increased liability. With more people on the payroll, more cash flow is necessary. Startups aren’t always stable and cash flow isn’t always guaranteed so some miss out on the opportunity to scale.
However, it’s important to consider alternative working arrangements. Freelancers are always available, helping your team scale as needed. You’ll have flexibility with allotting hours, adding team members, and scaling back down if it’s absolutely necessary.
Agile strategies can save time and money
Iterative development is the best way to cut down costs and increase quality. Agile product management was born out of the software industry (out of necessity since so many software products were failing due to nebulous milestones and overlong timelines) but any industry can leverage agile strategies to great effect.
Agile principles can be summarized as follows: teammates are in constant communication, the customer is the primary focus, products (or even services) are developed iteratively, meaning that some type of working prototype must always be produced and improved upon each cycle.
Cycles are short (usually only a few weeks) and meetings are held face-to-face. In essence, agile is about cutting out needless bureaucracy and producing a tangible product that is consistently improved through open and honest discussion.
Research can resolve issues
Keeping clear communication open is essential to successful scaling. Research, on the other hand, can be used to circumvent these issues by analyzing each scenario and preparing thoroughly for each. There is plenty of data out there on companies who have made mistakes, doubly so for startups as they typically do not have the leadership required to transition to the big leagues.
Telecommuting can cut costs
Knowing your history and risks will give a great advantage during the transition. Telecommuting can cut down on costs as well and will give you a workforce of the future.
Regardless of your method, understand that a successful scale happens behind a confident and knowledgeable team. Remote team members can be just as productive, if not more productive than traditional office workers.
Scaling can seem like a perilous task for startups who may not have a clear path forward. If scaling is too fast then you could outspend your resources and burn through your capital. If it’s too slow, however, you could end up falling behind the trend with limited technology.
Reach out to respectable leaders in your industry and ask them out to coffee or lunch so that you might pick their brains. More often than not, people will gladly give advice to newcomers and startups.
Mentors provide guidance and stability through the very unstable time of scaling by providing industry connections and constant feedback. After that, you should consider hiring freelancers who will work on flexible contracts to take on the workload through the scaling transition.
When cash flow isn’t guaranteed, freelancers can mean the difference between failure and success. Using different management and workplace strategies can often help businesses who are about to scale.
Consider the agile methodology as a means to engage the entire company and gear them toward the same goal. The agile method can help teams to stay constantly open and communicative which is exactly necessary during the scaling period.