How to Manage Startup Growing Pains

Many people may not be aware that a company’s initial success can actually be its eventual downfall. Without a proper foundation to sustain growth, startups are liable to collapse on themselves. Furthermore, businesses who focus entirely on fixing internal problems to fortify growth are unable to create solutions their customers are in desperate need of.

The first step to avoiding these dilemmas is identifying them early. Below are several of the most common growth pains young businesses experience:

  • Employees lack the expertise needed to provide new solutions.
  • A lack of managerial direction.
  • Disconnection within departments

Luckily, these problems have solutions, and these solutions can be the key to taking your startup out of growing pains and into the next level of success.

Stressed man sitting on leather sofa

1. Level Up Your PM Department

Your company is thriving, your customers are clamoring for what you are producing, and the market fit stage is an issue of the past. So what exactly is the problem? Simply put, your young business is short on the expertise needed to meet this new level of demand.

In this circumstance, PM departments often run the risk of stretching themselves thin figuring out how to cope with their new workloads. Often the initial assumption in this circumstance is to hire new employees to help alleviate the pressure. This type of thinking, however, is not always the best fit for a company that is entering a new phase.

So what can be done instead of hiring new personnel? One alternative is “reskilling” your current teams through corporate training. By developing existing employees, your startup is producing infrastructure internally, while also saving money on hiring and onboarding. Employees will have new skills suited for providing new solutions.

Moreover, investing in corporate training to solve startup woes keeps the entire company in growth mode. Just as the company has to develop to manage growth, and so does the workforce. Even if there is the need to add employees to the team, existing workers must be able to communicate effectively, and act as leaders responsible for previous and future success.

Man and woman talking next to Mac

2. Create a Team of Managers

Now that your existing team has new tools to solve new problems related to growing pains, its time to “upskill” these tools and create a team of experts. Although “reskilling” and “upskilling” may sound the same, they each play unique roles. While reskilling will give your startup employees the abilities to create new solutions, upskilling creates the new foundation for your growing business.

In essence, building a new internal group of managers acts as a stabilizing factor in these uncertain times. Training employees to take on managerial roles creates a sturdy base of knowledge and familiarity amongst coworkers. Creating experts from within also allows your startup to maintain its direction, rather than having to focus on adding new employees who must learn the company territory from scratch.

Perhaps most importantly, creating a team of experts contributes to collaborative efforts.  Collaboration during a time of growing pains can save a startup from making large errors. This is because departments often will focus on specific topics, rather than allowing opinions and ideas to flow through the company. Having constant communication in a time when change is most prominent is key to staving off redundant and menial work. 

Employees looking at computer monitor

3. Connecting Through Communicating

Communication methods in startups and larger businesses are generally very different. The beginning days of a company may have an air of familiarity. Employees can yell across an office to request a task, or simply swivel their chair to have a conversation that really should be an email. With growth, the increase in accountability brings an increase in the necessity of clearly documenting communication. 

Seasoned professionals know that tracking information (internal and external alike) is essential for productivity. This is even more crucial for a company that is scaling. That said, digitizing clear lines of interaction will alleviate much of the confusion that accompanies a business that is in the process of learning its new identity. 

Employees who use corporate training to reskill and upskill also learn their colleagues strong and weak points, which in turn helps them communicate requests more effectively. This goes hand in hand with digitizing lines of communication. Having a clear understanding of your teams strengths and weaknesses facilitates a sense of commitment to collaborative communication. Combining this internal understanding with a new standard of communication will be one key towards navigating through startup scaling troubles. 

Coworkers holding up chat bubbles

4. Get Outside Your Comfort Zone

Change is almost always a daunting situation. This will likely be the case for you when your startup is on its path towards unicorn status. The important thing to remember is that with growth, change will mean being outside of your comfort zone. This space outside of your area of expertise may feel like limbo, but it really is the chance to achieve even greater success.

So, when confronted with these growing pains, remember that this is a moment to prove true value. Many companies are unable to handle a new level of accountability, but by implementing the techniques listed above you can help your business fortify itself against the onslaught of new challenges.

On a final note, we are always curious about startup stories. Whether the outcome was successful or didn’t quite live up to expectactions, there are always lessons to be learned from the process. So, if you have your own personal case study, drop us a line on one of our Slack channels! We’d love to hear from you.

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