How to scale up without losing the start-up spirit

Founders, having lived and breathed every aspect of their business from day one, know the importance of working closely with their team and creating an inclusive culture that makes everyone feel valued.

But how do you keep that spirit of a start-up as you scale up and move your business to the next level? We look at five key areas of focus for business owners facing that challenge.

1. Lead by example

People work best when they’re motivated by their leaders, so displaying behaviours you’d like your teams to mirror is vital. As the saying goes, “lead by example”.

No matter the size of your organisation, it’s important to maintain that ‘family-feel’ and keep hold of an inclusive culture as your business grows. Your colleagues will thrive and add more value to your business if you avoid hierarchy and work silos.

2. Keep Learning

Encouraging an active learning environment in your business, where people can continually develop their skills and expertise, helps to create a culture that attracts and retains the best talent.

Continuous learning, through training or cross-functional working, creates a shared sense of purpose, and makes people feel valued as you’re investing in them individually and their future.

3. Trust people to do their job

You recruited your team members for a reason, so trust them to do their job, whether that’s dealing with suppliers and partners, formulating new ideas, or securing new business.

It doesn’t mean not being involved – you’re still needed to guide them with clear briefs and objectives and provide constructive feedback along the way. Trusted employees are given the opportunity to run with something, while you get to see what they’re capable of.

4. Be open and honest

Colleagues will want to celebrate every business milestone with you and start-ups are often brilliant at doing this, no matter how big or small the achievement. Don’t forget to celebrate the wins even as you grow!

However, the team also needs to understand the challenges and potential pitfalls you’re facing as a business, so they can focus on helping you to overcome them. Open and honest communication is critical in keeping that close-knit feel to your organisation.

5. Adapt to change

You’ll want to recruit a diversely skilled workforce as you scale up. With this comes different skills, ideas and unique perspectives to your business, which will inevitably bring about a period of change.

Adapting to change is in the DNA of start-ups. You can embrace that change, whilst ensuring your start-up culture remains a constant, by making sure everyone is focused on a common objective and is clear on your vision.

What are the challenges you’ve faced as your business has grown?

Share your thoughts and top tips with us by emailing or finding us on LinkedIn or Twitter