Over the past eight months our company has tripled in size, expanding from 25 employees to 125. During this time we transitioned from working in the basement of my home to a 17,000-square-foot office in Seattle, outgrowing two other temporary spaces in the process.
Growing so rapidly in a short of period time isn’t easy, especially for a young startup, but it was a great experience and learning process. Here are six things we learned during this time of fast growth:
It’s crucial to sweat the details and have a very clear understanding of the cash flow curve for your new office. Without a plan, spending can quickly get out of hand.
Take into account both the "people” and the “property” costs surrounding a big move. You must have a clear employee target number and growth timeline. Factor in the costs required to get newcomers hired and up to speed as well.
For your property, work closely with the property owner to negotiate rental fees and discuss modifications/remodels. Depending on your situation and budget, try negotiating for tenant improvements to alleviate costs.
For a business owner, the days of being everyone's direct boss quickly disappear. In order to maintain the same level of productivity, there needs to be sound structure in place from both your leadership team and the organization as a whole.
This is the foundation that will support your growth, enabling you to add lots of employees in a short amount of time.
One of the biggest risks of quickly scaling your company is the possibility of losing parts of your culture in the shuffle. Even worse, if your company is young and has not yet established its culture, you are leaving a key aspect of your business up to chance.
Defining and maintaining a great company culture goes back to building a strong leadership team. Work with the leadership team to develop a clear cultural mission and trajectory.
If you think that you can skimp in the recruiting and onboarding department and still have success when scaling, think again. To grow at an uncomfortable rate you have to dedicate full-time resources to bringing on good people and getting them up to speed. A rockstar HR director is your most important hire. Find someone with a solid track record and give them sufficient resources to be successful.
When planning for an office, you need to be able to think far enough ahead to understand what your growth will look like in the future. Where will the company be in three months? A year? Five years? With each move or expansion, make sure to meet all your needs while leaving a bit of room for growth within your space. An office building where you can expand as needed is best.
At the end of the day, creating a company that people want to work for is the fuel for your growth. If what you are building is not interesting or fun, people won’t stick around for the long haul and you can forget about being able to recruit. Providing real solutions to your customers is addictive for your company's problem solvers. Build on what has worked in the past and continue to innovate.
Needing to rapidly grow your startup or company is a great problem to have, but be very sure you’re ready. We waited a long time before we decided to grow quickly. We were patient and set up all the precursors for success. Don't be aggressive for the sake of being aggressive. When the timing is right, be strategic, thoughtful, and do things right the first time.
--Matt Ehrlichman is the CEO of Porch, where you can get inspired by the best home projects your neighbors have completed, see what any home project will cost, and find the best service professional your neighbors and friends recommend. Previous to Porch, Matt was a founder and CEO of Thriva (acquired by Active Network) and Chief Strategy Officer of Active Network (2011 IPO) He is also a member of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs.
[Image: Flickr user Nick Page]