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ASK THE EXPERT: SCALING UP Shouldn’t Mean SLOWING DOWN

Starting a business is exciting, but it often comes with many risks and uncertainties. For most entrepreneurs, having a trusted resource when problems arise can often be the very element needed to achieve game changing success.

“Ask the Expert”, our biweekly feature designed especially for startups, invites North Texas industry thought leaders to share helpful advice and strategies with current and aspiring business owners.

Meet The Expert

Alyssa Martin is a Dallas based program leadership expert with Point B, a management consulting firm that assists clients in developing strategic insights and translating them into impact. The company serves organizations from visionary start-ups to Fortune 100 companies across a wide range of industries, including healthcare, technology, retail and public sector.

Bringing experience from both agency and startup environments, Alyssa currently serves as Point B Dallas’ Operational Director of Marketing while supporting both a large client retail transformation effort and Point B’s National Capital Investment Portfolio.

Scaling up shouldn’t mean slowing down

Ask a group of entrepreneurs to expound upon their deepest, darkest, founder fears. What responses do you anticipate?  

Failure? Sure.

Bad press? Of course.

Being forced to re-enter Corporate America? Naturally.

Scaling? Cue the crickets.  

Roving between Fortune 500 companies and the startup community is like pacing between two green fields deciding which is benefiting from better fertilizer. Industry giants are racing to get back to the proverbial “Day 1,” while the thrill of expansion is rocket fuel for small teams trudging through the rocky startup terrain.

The reality is ALL companies, large and small, benefit from the startup fairy dust that fosters creativity and intoxicates those of us addicted to momentum. Large companies are trying to manufacture the magic retroactively, but is it possible for startups to scale without losing it in the first place?

Consider the following foundational lessons a guide to growing without losing your grip on the speed, agility, and ingenuity synonymous with startup culture:

Mindset + Footprint

Don’t: view scaling in an efficiency and standardization vacuum. When you focus solely on geographic and market presence, you risk losing sight of the guiding light that is your brand promise.

Do: view scaling in terms of physical expansion and ideology. Commit to hiring philosophies early on and remain consistent with how you ingrain the company’s vision into the hands, hearts, and minds of your workforce.

Simplify As You Scale  

A trend we’re seeing in the market today is the restructuring of personnel (common in development operations, but largely department-agnostic) from large team environments to small, nimble teams aiming to promote innovation and speed up the rate of work, communication, and delivery.

Don’t: view expansion solely as addition.

Do: consider subtracting as you add. A simple tip for this as you grow is to figure out which meeting you can eliminate before adding a new one, identify a step that can be removed from the process before adding another, evaluate the talent skills you aren’t using before adding more.

Communication Isn’t a Luxury

Don’t: wait until you become a large company to adopt strong internal communication and change management practices.

Do: use every growth opportunity as a platform to set mindset expectations with your team and impart lessons collected. Your team should be evolving just as quickly as you are scaling (i.e., “scale your growth”).

Company dynamics will change as you grow. This is unavoidable. But, if you want to build a business worthy of your initial vision, one that improves the lives of your customers and instills passion in your employees, you will scale without slowing down.

In the famous words of Amazon founder and CEO:

“It’s time to get back to Day 1. No matter your size. No matter how long you’ve been in business.” – Jeff Bezos