Being where we are today has truly been a journey. Since we started out back in 2015 a lot of things have changed, to say the least. In these past five years we have gone from being 3 people to 40. Scaling up our business has taught us a lot about ourselves and this process in general. So, we thought it might be a good idea to share some of the takeaways, with the help of our own, Johannes Bolvede - enjoy!
This process is pretty unique and foremost you have one major challenge when scaling up - keeping your startup speed, innovation and flexibility while you grow and increasingly need more routines and processes put in place. While we have tackled that challenge we’ve noticed some specific things we’d like to pass on to you. Some knowledge, if you will.
No two scaleup journeys are exactly alike. As Meetio kicked off, the situation was already different from a lot of other startups.
"By 2015 when Meetio launched we already had a finished product, which means we didn’t have that product testing period many others have. Our first step was focused on hiring salespeople and start selling", says Johannes.
That meant we initially put effort into recruiting and since we knew that was the first challenge we also knew increasing in numbers and sizing was going to be somewhat difficult.
"It’s tricky growing quickly and being one step ahead when it comes to office spaces and so on. We knew beforehand that we would grow out our current spaces and that we would keep having to find new spaces. And if you’ve been looking for office space before you’ll know it’s not always the most flexible contracts. But it’s a luxurious problem. "
Some things you prepare for and some just pop up on your path when scaling up. That happened to us as well. We have faced many challenges, but one which we did not see coming was the need to change the way we communicate.
"Internal communication is something you really need to take responsibility for and put effort into. When you're a startup with 4 coworkers communication comes naturally and everyone hears everything. As you grow, that changes, so you need routines and you need to make sure you don’t form information islands but instead include everyone. We have an infrastructure of meetings now which make sure those who need and want to know something will. "
Communication is of course essential in all businesses, but the purpose is not always the one and same. As far as communication goes in scaling up you definitely need to communicate to get buy in. If people are not included in an early stage you’ll have a harder time driving change and setting new routines.
And speaking of new routines, there’s something to learn about that as well.
"It’s an interesting balance creating sustainable routines. Because we realised that a lot of the time we built things to work smoothly for two or three people and you forget to think about the fact that 30 people are going to do this soon. Although, there is also a big risk in building larger processes too soon. You should have some level of growing pain all the time. If you don’t you’ve built too big."
The biggest takeaway
As an employer scaling up is a split journey as well. You start off doing everything yourself and the more you grow the more you hire people who have specific talents and abilities, and suddenly you have to let go a little bit.
"We have been running operations from the start in every part of the business. And now we’re at a point where the operational responsibilities are more and more left to other people. That means letting go of your baby for a little bit and letting other people take care of it. Luckily we haven’t had any trouble in that area but even if you do you have to have faith in your coworkers."
These are some of our takeaways that we thought we’d pass on. There is, however, one major thing we haven’t really talked about here - recruiting. We thought we’d dedicate an article to that area alone. So, keep an eye out!