By Dr. Silvia Mah
Are you an entrepreneur who feels like Peter Pan — hesitant to grow up and leave the comfort of the startup space? Maybe it’s time for your startup to grow up. As an angel investor who has built a career around helping startups launch and scale, I’m here to assist you through the transition.
This Saturday, I’ll be joined by 300 female founders and angel investors for Hera Venture Summit, where experts from both sides of the investment table will share best practices, tips and lessons learned.
In advance of the summit — where topics will range from early stage funding to building toward an exit — here are several ways you can expect your startup to change as it moves from startup to established company.
Oh, The Places You’ll Grow!
Your business will undergo major changes as it transitions out of the startup phase. It’s time to recognize and internalize that what the startup needed in the past is not necessarily what the company needs in the present and in the future.
As you gear up to grow the size of your organization, listen to your current employees who can help you identify the right mixture of perks and compensation that will retain and attract talent.
Business Leaders Need to Evolve, Too
It’s been “all hands on deck” at your startup and you’re probably used to steering the ship, swabbing the floor and preparing food for your shipmates. Now it’s time to take a step back and start delegating. It’s crucial during this transitional phase for business leadership to remove themselves from the day-to-day, get laser focused on what only they can do, and identify the right team to propel the business forward.
At this juncture, business leaders may benefit from 360-degree reviews. It’s a way to gain insight from various stakeholders — peers, direct reports, vendors, etc., to achieve a holistic perspective about your performance. You can learn more about the 360-degree review process here.
Track Your Progress
As you prepare to scale, turn a microscope on your expenses. Be lean in your costs — not only to save money — but also to show that your organization’s leadership values capital efficiency. Track expenses in an efficient, yet simple system. This makes migration into a more complex accounting system easier when it’s time to scale.
Welcome Your Team Aboard
Put on your human resources hat. It’s time to imbue a culture of growth and development in the company. For example, to ensure employees share one vision for the organization, you could distribute a one-sheet outlining the organization’s vision, mission and descriptive attributes of the company, like “strong,” “youthful,” or “trustworthy.” It’s also time to develop an official onboarding process, and your new one-sheet can be worked into onboarding activities along with an overview of company policies.
Lastly, make sure you have a clearly stated company goals. Tie business metrics to corporate incentives to ensure all team members are working toward them. Find creative ways to keep a unified company vision and culture as the organization matures. Google’s “don’t be evil” slogan is just one example of a strategy that has steered a company through explosive growth.
Dr. Silvia Mah, MBA, Ph.D., is a UC San Diego alum and the executive director of Hera Labs, a Sorrento Valley-based accelerator for female business owners. The mission of Hera Labs is to equip and propel female founders to successfully launch, grow and sustain their businesses efficiently and effectively, thus positively impacting the local, national and global economy.
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