At Spendesk, we know all about scaling up. We were thrilled to raise our Series B in September 2019, and we’re working hard to grow and serve more customers all over the world.
We also take this period seriously. And we think you should too. Because while fast growth is good, it usually also means lots of change. And with change can come confusion, complexity, and conflict.
Which is not what you want.
One of those key changes is setting up new company procedures and strategies. These will hopefully be there for the long run, which means it pays to get them right from the start.
This also means new technology and especially new software to handle this change. So in this article, we’re going to set out the guidelines for choosing software that will scale easily with your company.
Choose good tools now, and you’ll move easily from a few dozen employees to hundreds without skipping a beat. Choose poorly, and you’ll hit the same roadblocks every time a new team member comes onboard.
So let’s talk technology. But first, a quick definition.
What is a scaleup?
It’s worth quickly defining the kinds of companies we’re talking about here. Because as is often the case in modern language, “scaleup” means different things to different people.
Some publications define this term in numbers. For example, the OECD defines “scaleup” as a company with “an average annualized return of at least 20% in the past 3 years with at least 10 employees in the beginning of the period.”
Which might be technically true, but it doesn’t describe the way it feels to run a scaleup. Because it’s definitely different from running a startup.
For the purposes of this article, “scaleup” means the following:
A company in a rapid growth phase – usually as a result of new funding – typically with between 50 – 500 employees.
These companies will have established product-market fit, have shown that they can sell their goods or services, and are expanding fast to strike while the iron’s hot.
Key scaleup indicators include:
- Targeting new markets
- Opening offices in new countries
- Workforce doubling (or more) in size each year
- Emphasis on new customers and gross revenue growth
If all of that sounds familiar, you’re probably in a scaleup.
What’s different for scaleups?
The transition from startup to scaleup should be smooth. In theory, you’re doing what you always did – just bigger and broader.
But whereas startups need to be scrappy, move quickly, and keep things lean, scaleups need to think about the future. Because while you have 50 employees today – mostly in the same office – soon that number will be 150, and then 300.
And they won’t all be in the same office, the same city, or even the same country. You can’t “hack” things like payroll, health insurance, or expenses with 300 team members.
You need processes that the newest employee can pick up and run with, and you can’t afford to hold everyone’s hand.
The business is set to grow faster than ever before. And what was seen as “a little bit messy” before is going to turn into a major headache in a hurry.