How do you take your team from startup to company? Here are some tips to have a successful growth!
A year and a half ago we first moved our startup to a new HQ in Barcelona, Spain. At first, we were really, really “startup”; essentially working with our small team out of my cofounder’s kitchen. Additionally, half our team was remote in two other countries. When your company is this agile and lean, it’s easy to forget you’re still a company and need to keep that thought if that’s how you want your target audience to think about your brand.
Fake it until you make it, essentially.
We’re now a substantial team operating in two countries and in five languages. We have a central office in Barcelona with employees from all over the world. Things have changed quite a bit, but the mentality has always been the same. There are several things we did differently that I think boosted us up from “startup” to company that are essential for growth.
Tip to grow: 1. Delegate and focus
Your entire team can’t be a jack-of-all-trades forever. One of the biggest mistakes startups that need to scale quickly make is not properly delegating work to a staff that can handle it effectively. Time is your biggest enemy. There are companies with greater resources than you, so you need to play smart. Thankfully, there are some great tools that made it simple for us to begin doing this before our team grew to what it is now. For example: though our original team speaks multiple languages, we outsourced translating to Fiverr to free up their time. Little things like this make a huge difference.
Tip to grow: 2. Get your processes straight
There’s an experimental period (ours would definitely be in the kitchen) for every startup when you’re trying to get all your “departments” functioning. Often it’s one person handling multiple functions, but as you grow, it’s vital to have your processes for each necessary task nailed down. Training is the most time consuming and costly part of hiring a new employee and you can cut that significantly by having processes formalized and simple early on. We have instructions for everything written out in a shared Google Drive that acts as a guide to everything that we share with everyone in Hibox. The minute we found the best way to do something, we got it down so we could have someone else jump on at anytime.
Tip to grow: 3. Your customer service moves from startup to company level
It doesn’t matter what you’re in but especially tech, people expect a personal experience. This is another huge advantage more established companies have over startups. If startups can match them here, they’re on the same level for many potential customers. Again, here’s where the tools become important. You have to leverage what you have as efficiently as possible. It’s best to implement this early on. One unsatisfied customer is hard to shake off for a small company and one satisfied customer is your biggest marketing weapon.
We use Intercom to answer company questions with our remote team in different timezones. We have FAQ answers saved in different languages in our Google Drive in Hibox for employees to pull from at anytime to make the process as efficient as possible. Hubspot for managing bigger customers with more robust communication is brilliant as well.
Tip to grow: 4. Make your startup data the decision maker
It can be really difficult to know whether the direction you’re moving in is right when there is little indication at the beginning. The thing is there is so much more information than we think available. Data collection and analyzation tools are super accessible, cheap, and specific. You can get valuable proprietary data on your company that can help you make strategic decisions that put you ahead of competitor by really knowing what your target wants. It’s best to assume you don’t know what they want and try trust in the data. You’ll be one in a few companies who do. Try out UserTesting for real users’ experience and opinion on your product. Another big one is A/B testing with Unbounce.
Tip to grow: 5. Get in touch with the big fish in your pond
There’s this very common assumption (we admit we made) with startup PR: we launch, we email some tech journalists, we blow up. This definitely isn’t how it works as any startup trying their hand at in-house PR will know. We’ve found better success getting in touch with semi-big “micro-influencers” in our areas. First, we actually get a response. Second, we reach an audience that is much more segmented to us. Third, rubbing elbows with micro-influencers actually caught the attention of the bigger guys.
The initial startup phase is awkward and a whirlwind of decisions. It should be as short-lived as possible. Your primary goal should be to determine, strategically, direction and then execute as efficiently and effectively as possible. Though things will always be unexpected, the faster you transition from startup to company, the more substantial your path to scale and profits will be.