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From Startup to Scaleup - the Challenges

15 October, 2020

Scaling up isn’t just a walk in the park. Let’s just start there. Despite how successful you might be as a startup, the process of scaling up can cause a lot of worry. So, to help you prepare, we figured that we could put together a post of common challenges you might face! 

First things first, we have to define what a scaleup actually is. A scaleup is a startup in the next phase that has a product-market fit. Scaling up is the process of moving forward with a product or service that has been proven to work. It no longer needs testing. It’s always evolving of course, but the testing phase is over. That phrase means you have to prepare for some things:

Putting a process in place without slowing down

As a startup you’re probably trying to do everything as quickly as possible. When you’re scaling up you will have to make some changes to your processes if you’re going to be able to handle the workload. For example, figuring out how to communicate with everyone from you coworkers to your shareholder without losing your speed. Basically, scaling up often means less solo rides. There are others who need to be included and that can potentially take a toll on your efficiency. It’s important to remember this and focus on not letting it slow you down too much.

Creating specific departments

When you’re a startup it’s beneficial to build a team of people who can do a lot of different things. People who know a little about a lot. As you grow you’ll need to hire specific talent and create departments for specific areas. This can be challenging in several ways. First of all, it becomes tricky to guarantee everyone’s as excited about the business as you are. In a start-up, all of the team members thrive on evolving the company, later hires might not share their enthusiasm. It also means that you become a more structured company and your original team members might not be interested in working that way.  

Losing adaptability

A startup is often successful because of its ability to adapt quickly. The more you grow the less adaptable you become. You don’t want to lose that fast-moving innovation so you have to be cautious of that. At least if you want to keep the kind of spark and passion you had within the startup to begin with. It’s a challenge to figure out how to keep that adaptability in place as you scale up.     

Recruiting and organizational culture

As you grow you have to pay attention and put time into working on your organizational culture. Because as you scale up, grow and hire new people (perhaps even a lot of people in a short amount of time) it’s hard to keep that culture intact. You won’t be able to find perfect fits all the time if the pressure on recruiting is high. Sometimes it might be smarter to focus on a better cultural fit than skills, since you can always teach skills but not change someone's personality. 

The scale up process is challenging for every business. Good preparation, a strategy and first and foremost humility of the journey will take you a long way. 

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