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Key Challenges during a Startup’s Rapid Growth (Futurists can help!)

Interview Sylvia Gallusser – Key Challenges during a startup’s rapid growth

Sylvia Gallusser talks to Akanksha Kulkarni about transhumanism, the future of the mind and how to develop a futurist mindset. Watch the entire episode on peopleHum’s Leadership video series to know more.

[Transcript]

If you want your business to flourish, you need room to grow. You need to invest, in people, in technology, in a workplace, in training.

The first challenge identified is often linked to Administrative Burden.

  • Time management is essential during rapid growth. Leaders focus on product development and business development and they don’t always have time to do proper HR management, so they either underestimate the role of HR or they rely on simplified outsourced HR.
  • Startups CEOs also need to run a safe and compliant business. This starts as early as day one with one employee, and this includes running a payroll, filing taxes, drafting company policies, onboarding new hires, sometimes applying for visas.
  • But as they grow fast, turn-key solutions are not enough. As workplace regulations evolve, scaleups will require HR to establish and document new processes and procedures, for instance around GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and personal data use.
  • At this point, it is not as much about having the right tools as having the right processes.

Another frequently mentioned challenge is Recruitement.

  • You need to streamline the recruitment process – from employer brand to employee value proposition, to candidate acquisition and onboarding.
  • In addition, people analytics (analysing your employees and applicants data) can inform better decisions and lead to more strategic actions. You need to start collecting people data early on.
  • Online brand reputation must be checked (on websites like Glassdoor) and worked on if necessary. If your reputation is hurt, it will be hard to fix. You need to care for it from the start.
  • And onboarding is key. During the scale-up phase, leaders are working so much, that they tend to sit the new hires down, forgo formalities and put employees straight to work. But this tends to lead to poor performance and low retention. They need time to be trained and introduced to the corporate culture.

And this is actually the third big challenge: managing cultural change.

  • As the company grows, the role of the founding team must change from entrepreneur to leader of people. They must accept relinquishing control over part of the operations.
  • Too often, the founders will want to retain a huge amount of influence across all areas of the business and continue to make key people decisions. But they have to accept that HR has a role to play – and that it is for their own good: so they can spend more time on growing the business and leading by example.
  • It’s important to remember that the company culture does not (only) belong to the founders. The culture is formed by the people they hired.

Finally I would add a specificity of growth strategy and business acceleration.
Growth drivers consist in finding the product market fit and then implementing the right go-to-market strategy. These key indicators will notably help bring investors on board and further develop the business. But there’s something new. Now VC funds like Andreessen Horowitz are expecting the companies to reach what they call the product-zeitgeist fit, meaning products that will perfectly fit in the spirit of our times. You can think of face masks during Covid for example and how smart companies pivoted.
Well, I like to go even further by pushing companies to find their product/preferred future fit. To not only think of their 3-year profitability and their next round of funding, but to engage in an even more sustainable vision with an horizon closer to 10 years. (Read our article on that topic).

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Published by Sylvia

Futurist - Futures Thinking & Strategic Foresight

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