I have always been fascinated with understanding how a company can scale. When I first started my company Netlan, I was awed by Cheyenne Software, which went from 12 to 300 people in one year! This article by Molly Graham is an incredible “how to” about scaling a company.
Here are some of the lessons learned I would like to share:
- If you want to grow alongside your company, you have to give your responsibilities and duties away to move on to bigger and better things. At a scaling company, giving away responsibility — giving away the part of the Lego tower you started building — is the only way to move on to building bigger and better things.
- Graham emphasizes that high performers who can adapt to the chaos and insecurity of adding new people is the key to a successful, fast-growing company.
- A great technique to get people through the changes and anxiety of scaling a company is helping them see the bigger opportunities that are in front of them.
- When a company cannot fit around a round table, things will get harder. The best thing to do is start writing the company’s core values, philosophies and mission. Over communicate who you are as a company and it will help answer questions about the organization.
- The first 100 people you hire will define the next 200. Early hires set the tone and groundwork of the company so it is important to weed out those that do not fit.
Some of the advice Graham offers in a simple checklist for founders eyeing rapid growth include:
- Write down your vision. Make a list of the qualities you want your company to embody. Who do you want to be? How do you want it to feel to work there?
- Communicate these things again and again and again. You can’t over-communicate these ideas.
- Focus on hiring quality people rather than speed.
- Fire people. Just do it!
- Hire amazing leaders as early as you can and help them grow their capabilities as the company grows.
- Prioritize principles over process.
- Keep giving away your Legos! And tell everyone around you to do the same. It’s going to be okay.”
With my experience in growing my own company, I know how important Graham’s points are. You have to make sure your employees know that the emotional chaos they feel is normal. Communicate your company’s mission clearly so that all employees have a guideline to follow. Most importantly, constant communication between leaders and employees is necessary to keep the company strong and growing.