How To Scale Your (Startup) Team

Despite the fact that the human brain is a practically ideal processing machine in its nature that works restlessly for decades, we cannot really compare it with a multi-core processor able to perform numerous complex tasks simultaneously. Because apart from the motivation in the form of money, credit from the manager, and a desire to keep the working position, during stressful workloads we are all also affected by such hormones as adrenaline and cortisol.

If an amount of those hormones in an organism grows to a critical norm, the health and psyche are to be negatively influenced (therefore, the quality of work is also lowered). Nevertheless, the stress-resistance factor is among the main attributes of a team that must handle large volumes of tasks daily.

In turn, in order to keep the good vibes in the team and prevent emotional burnouts of your employees, we’d recommend considering scaling up the staff. We suggest you find out how to scale a startup team. without slowing down your existing workflow in the article.

What does it mean to scale a startup?

To scale startup means to expand your current working staff by creating vacant openings for existing positions (for example, your two frontend developers can’t handle all the tasks anymore and they need someone third) or for new ones (e.g., if a number of orders to process dramatically increases, you’ll require a dedicated sales manager that would directly communicate with customers instead of developers). Let’s discuss the nuances and pitfalls of scaling a startup team below.

Sale phases

In order to realize where and what your company needs to improve and perfect, let’s clarify 5 crucial phases of selling a product or service:

  • The creation of a product/service;
  • Shipping (optionally, meaning the transportation of goods to the sales outlet);
  • The attraction of potential customers and lead generation (advertising, loyalty program, etc.);
  • The interaction with potential customers (communication between sales reps and customers);
  • Dispelling potential customers’ doubts (customer service, work with a negative opinion, etc.);

Having analyzed the efficiency of realizing each of these stages, you will be able to more precisely identify breaches in your business processes.

Challenges to avoid

Among the main issues startups planning to scale tend to face are extremely short terms for the implementation of a concept and too narrow of specialization of required workers. This is the case where the best way out of the situation would be to employ the services of a dedicated outsourcing company. We’ll talk about this below.

5 best practices to scale your (startup) team

Let’s take a look at our 5 tips to scale a startup team that will help you take the scaling challenge with total preparation and thoroughness.

  • Evaluate the internal effectiveness of your current team. For starters, you will have to thoroughly analyze the points where your company suffers the most significant downtime periods (see ‘Sale phases’). Perhaps, they happen due to the inability to timely react to customer requests, perhaps, due to a lack of working capacities for the production of goods/providing services. This will help you understand which specialists to employ primarily.
  • Define your future goals. If your workflow is pretty well adjusted, but your plans include much greater performance capacities, try to indicate what exactly can help you reach that (e.g., which department of your company requires an increase in power capacities).
  • Analyze which workflow processes can be automated. Before getting full on to the question of how to scale a startup team, think, maybe there are alternative solutions to your situation. It oftentimes happens that instead of expanding the staff, it’s enough for a company to implement the special software, with the help of which a number of working processes can be automated.
  • Try to formulate several small teams instead of the one huge. As practice indicates, the teams consisting of 5+ members tend to work much less productively than more compact groups of workers. In such a manner, it might be that to solve an insufficient company performance issue, one needs to increase the number of managing positions instead of executive employees.
  • Get to searching for new employees. Finally, if you realize that you won’t do without the new workers, don’t waste your time and get to searching for them. Whom to search for exactly? Let’s discuss this in the next paragraph.

Whom to hire?

You have three general options:

  • launch a full-scale campaign for hiring staff workers;
  • begin your searches on job boards among freelancers;
  • turn to a dedicated and, what’s most important, fully-formed company specializing in solving this particular task.

Ultimately, your final choice should be based on your definition of the following questions:

  • how much are you interested in the permanent employment of new workers?
  • how urgent are the tasks you decide to make new employees responsible for?
  • what budget are you ready to dedicate to the employment of your new workers?
  • are there experts in your company who can coordinate the work of new employees?

Obviously, if you need an immediate solution to the problem and nobody from your current staff has the sufficient level of competency to become a mentor for newbies, the only option for you is to employ the services of a dedicated company.

Create a plan

To make the team scaling process subsequent and harmless as for the existing workflow, you should work carefully on a plan. The plan must define and prioritize the tasks your current staff is unable to fulfill. Pay attention: may you have ‘semi-primary’ tasks that can be delayed due to the prolonged nature of their completion (e.g., software development, testing, providing correspondence of systems with security requirements, etc.).

It’s very important to develop strategies of interaction between the existing staff and new teams – quite possibly, you’ll require a separate assistant who will help you manage the teams without distracting each worker from their job.

The cost of scaling

In order to calculate the cost of scaling, you will have to consider not only your new employees’ salary but also the new working space organization costs, as well as tax payments. Obviously, it’s better to look for new workers among freelancers to make the fulfillment of the latest two tasks reasonable.

IMPORTANT: Consider all pros and cons before hiring a remote employee – not every company manager by far is able to provide the really productive interaction between full-time and part-time workers; so if you don’t have a previous experience of organizing such a format of work, we strongly recommend trying this in non-critical situations like this (scaling-up).

Alternatives to scaling with traditional hires

As an option, you can avoid expanding the staff by simply hiring a separate team with their own dedicated manager to fulfill a certain task. This approach to the distribution of workflow is the most reasonable in the case where there appears a need to reassign some responsibilities for a certain period of time (for instance, so that there’s a possibility to develop an application and at the same time start to develop a marketing strategy for company development).

Conclusion

To summarize everything up, we can say that the startup team scaling isn’t a simple task, which requires a consistent approach. In a number of cases, you’ll require to expand your staff of employees significantly, in a number of other cases – employing a separate team for the solution of particular questions would be quite enough. If you come to a realization that the latter is your best bet, turn to Binariks. We are a team with the fully-organized and adjusted working hierarchy, so you won’t need to track every day the stages of task completion. We deliver the result – you only give orders.