Finance · 25 July 2016

Managing accelerated startup growth

growth concept
Darren Westlake: “It’s not just the responsibility of founders, but all staff, to maintain rapid growth”

In his latest blog post for Business Advice, Crowdcube CEO Darren Westlake discusses what startup owners should focus on when managing accelerated growth.

Crowdcube celebrated its fifth birthday this year, and the company is moving into its own next phase of growth.

The business raised more than £6m in its latest funding round, and the platform has recently announced plans to raise a further £5m in growth finance via the crowd and VC backer Balderton Capital.

Westlake provides his tips to startup owners launching into uncharted territory while maintaining rapid growth.

Simply the best

Think about the team you want to recruit that can take you from startup to growth. As I’ve said in a previous blog post, assess the core skills you need in order to grow the company, especially if you as the founder don’t have these already.

Recruit the kind of people that reflect the type of company you want to be, so focus is on quality rather than quantity.

People often talk about hiring passionate, as well as talented people, but you also have to inspire people. In the early days, this can be relatively easy, especially in a new and exciting market, but you then have to keep people inspired throughout your journey, which can be much harder to do.

Crowdcube has deliberately taken on smart and savvy staff from innovative companies like Google, Facebook and eBay, with the a mindset that keeps them focused on the firm’s future goals.

Cross-pollinate

Everyone in your business has a role to play in managing growth – it’s not just the responsibility of the founders – so don’t create silos or isolated departments. Keep the doors open and offer team members the opportunity to work across disciplines and to get involved in areas or projects outside of their immediate core skill set.

Crowdcube’s CFO, for example, was involved in a branding campaign a couple of years ago that lay completely outside of his training as an accountant.

He felt that was the only way to really understand the business inside out and have a say in its success. He was delighted because he would never have got the chance to do this in a bigger, more established business.

Shout it from the rooftops

Marketing and PR have played a vital role in Crowdcube’s success to date. It’s helped us to attract a constant stream of interesting startups to the platform, build a crowd of nearly 300,000 registered investors and attract talented staff.

It’s worked for us and is something we believe is key to creating and managing growth as a business.

Many startups discard marketing as too expensive or time-consuming, but if you are looking to build a brand either in a new or existing market, it’s key.

Don’t’ be afraid to explore options, especially if it helps you to focus on your core mission and vision as a business and to communicate this both internally and externally.

Find your focus and then partner

As you move from startup to growth, your growth targets get bigger. For many companies, it is often harder to scale quickly enough as you focus on larger targets. So focus on getting better, not necessarily bigger.

One way of doing this is by partnering with other firms – tech companies do this all the time and do it very well.

Whether its collaborating with tech firms like Amazon, as we did last year for its Amazon Launchpad, or with financial companies like Balderton Capital for investment purposes, it’s important to remember to chose partners who reflect your values and vision as a business and enable you to grow.

Finding a balance

Growing a business can also be a fine line between ambition and stability. Making that transition from small startup to growth business can be a tricky time for any company.

Communication is important of course and something that companies often let themselves down on as they get bigger. Don’t be afraid to communicate little and often with your team using new techniques and technology, like Google Hangouts.

And have fun – some firms grow and owners forget that they can still be cool and friendly, so don’t get too serious too quickly – get the BBQ out while the sun’s still shining and crack open the beers!

Finally, it’s important not to forget where you’ve come from as a business and learn from your mistakes, as well as your successes. We work with startups every day and having been through this process ourselves, it means we have a greater appreciation for our clients and what they’re going through.

Missed Darren’s previous blog post on Business Advice? Read his advice for startup founders on what to do before applying for first-time investment, here

 

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Darren Westlake is the co-founder and CEO of Crowdcube, an online platform that enables startup, early and growth-stage businesses, from a range of sectors, to raise finance with the added benefit of being backed by the crowd.

Finance