Don’t get fat

Scaling a company does not only mean revenue growth or geographic expansion or hiring or automation. It also means process and management and product diversification.

Early on, the first group gets you leverage, the second group gets you fat.

The most important balance in the early days is to not get in your own way of growth. There are so many false/positives in earlier stage companies that when you think you should add a process, hold off until it is obvious you should have done it months ago.

2 years into my current company we had a clear vision for the product and had determined that we were in need of a product manager to guide us. We promoted from within and set them on what we thought would be the path to product success — for them and the company.

We quickly realized we were WAY too soon for this role.

We almost immediately ran into conflicting processes — we needed to still be moving at a pace that was in conflict with a product management process and methodology. We were still finding our way, our product/market fit and adding a layer and strict process slowed us down to a frustratingly slow pace.

We were not ready.

There are countless moments at this stage in company where you may think you should automate or add process or delegate. Make sure you are doing it for the right reason — to unlock or unblock growth or people.

It particular, hold off on adding fat to:

  • Email <– personalized won’t scale but it is how to establish trust. Templates are lazy at this stage.
  • Product <– no one knows your product and your customer requirements better than you. Don’t distance yourself from this too soon.
  • Marketing <– Grit and grassroots reign supreme over templated initiatives. Visit, call, email, connect instead of broadcast and hope.
  • Sales <– Lose the generic patter — you see through it and so will your own customers. Remember why your company exists and put the effort into helping your customers see how you can help them achieve their goals.

We ALL hate receiving generic responses or sales pitches or products that look and taste the same. The companies doing everything the same way have become burdened by process. Trim your fat, stop tipping to laziness and put the work in to stay that way for as long as possible.