Do You Have The Right Team To Scale Your Startup?

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“You’re at $5 million in revenue. Since we’re in the last quarter of the year, this is the perfect time to do some long term planning,” I said to “Kevin”, a CEO I’m working with.

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“What did you have in mind?” Kevin asked.

“I love to go through the exercise every year of what does your company look like at 10X the size it is now. In your case that means what does your company look like at $50 million?”

Step 1: You should think about the organization at 10X the size.


“Look at the people, the markets, and the tools you need to be successful at $50 million,” I said. “For example, are there any key executive roles to fill?

“And, in the roles you already have filled, do you have the right people? In other words can your team scale?”

“That sounds good,” Kevin replied. “But how do I know if my team can scale.”

Let’s think about what’s involved in scaling,” I said. “The key things any executive is going to have to do is recruit, manage, and delegate.

“What have you already seen?”


Step 2: Grade your existing team. Do you have any B or C players that need to be replaced?


“Yeah, that helps a lot,” Kevin said to me. “I’m worried that at least one of the executive team can’t recruit.”

“If they can’t recruit, they’re going to have a difficult time scaling their team,” I said. “Are there any B and C players that you’ve been getting by with? For example, you’ve been talking about upgrading in marketing.”

Kevin nodded his head. “I know I’ve got to do something there. I can’t see him being VP Marketing when we’re at $50 million.”

“Now’s the time to recognize where you have shortcomings. $50 million (in revenue) is going to happen in a heartbeat.”

“I know it will,” Kevin said. “I know.”

“The good new is you’re way ahead of the game,” I said. “And, you’re not in a crisis mode now, so this is a good time plan ahead.”


Step 3: Give your executives the same assignment of thinking about their organization at 10X the size.


“You’re right,” Kevin said. “I know I’m going to have to make at least one change in Marketing. What about the rest. Are there any other tips you have?”

“Yes. I really like the idea of giving your team the same assignment. Let them tell you the vision they see for their area of responsibility when you get to $50 million.

“What do they see as the challenges? How many people do they think they’ll have to hire? Do they need special equipment that you don’t have currently?

“As a general rule, if they don’t put in the effort to develop a well thought out plan, then you might have a problem going forward.”

“That’s great, Brett,” Kevin said. “What do you think about suggesting they give their direct reports the same exercise (of figuring out what they need at 10X the size) that I’m going to give them?”

“That’s perfect,” I said. “I wouldn’t expect much back, based on the company’s size, but this will set the stage for later. Plus, one of the things you want to preach is the importance of delegation.”

“Is there anything else?” Kevin asked.


Step 4: You need to challenge the results.


“Yes, there is,” I said. “You want your team to look at how to get to $50 million with an unconstrained view of the world.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean you don’t want your team putting any constraints on themselves. For example, if they need 50 Phd’s to get there, then you want to know what they truly think they need, not what they think you can afford,” I said.

“I get it,” Kevin said.

“The problem is this is easier said than done,” I said. “You may need to really coax out of them what they really think. This may take a bit proving to your team that they will be okay telling you the truth.”

“Thanks. This is great,” Kevin said.


Step 5: Go through this 10X your size assessment process every year.


“I have one more piece of advice,” I said. “Get in the habit of doing this every year. It’s really good discipline. Plus, things change from year to year, so it’s good to always update your long term strategy.”


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