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While scaling is undoubtedly an exciting time for any business, it comes with its own unique set of challenges that can be difficult to navigate. We invited Jitse Groen, founder and CEO of and Joris Dierick, CFO of TBAuctions, to offer priceless advice shaped by their own experiences of scaling a business.

Transparency from the beginning

In any stage of your journey, transparency with your team and stakeholders is vital. Ensure responsibilities are clearly communicated to teams, be firm but fair when having these conversations.

While you may think you’re being clear, often this isn’t the case, so leave no room for wires to be crossed. Not only will this allow your teams to coordinate and plan better, it will allow you to identify potential problems before they develop into anything bigger.

Avoid ‘general’ meetings which run the risk of glossing over important information, if there are multiple vital components, then hold meetings for each to make sure your message has been received.

When this clear communication is present, making the tough decisions when KPIs aren’t met will be much easier as there’s solid clarity over who is responsible for what.

Give people a reason to stay

Offering a progression plan within your business is key to retaining your best talent. Setting fair and clear KPIs is not only essential from a logistical perspective, but also for the personal development of your employees.

Part of this requires allowing autonomy among teams, displaying a level of trust which will allow individuals to flourish when left with a brief. If you’ve paid enough attention to your recruitment strategy, this shouldn’t be an issue.

However, it’s important to maintain at least some flexibility within these goals. Things change in business, the effects of COVID are a prime example of this, so factor in circumstances when revisiting the KPIs you set initially.

Potential stumbling blocks

Equipping yourself aptly for growth can save a lot of headaches throughout your scaling journey, so a strong HR department can be priceless.

It’s easy to lose sight of values during transitional periods, which can have detrimental effects on how consumers view your business, as well as morale within your team. While these values can naturally evolve, be wary of straying too far from the very thing that others have bought into.

Also, be wary of spreading yourself too thin. Being ambitious is great, however don’t confuse this with thinking you must cover an endless list of objectives within unrealistic timelines. It’s better to be the best at a few things, than average at everything else.

Maintaining a diverse team is key to growing a strong business. Diverse teams are more profitablemore creative and are better at solving problems, so it’s only natural that you’d want to nurture an environment that celebrates diversity, starting with your founders.

Being cautious when it comes to titles is one other thing to bear in mind. Mis-use of titles can lead to division among teams, so be sensitive about how you approach this.

Photo of Jitse Groen, founder of Picnic

Lead. Deliver. Care. People need to understand they are in a fast growing business and they need to deliver on what they promise.

Jitse Groen, Founder & CEO

A savy approach to sales

A strong sales team is a vital component of any thriving business model, and the best sales teams require carefully considered motivation.

Naturally salespeople will push whatever makes them the most money, which may not always align with your goals at that particular time, consider this when deciding on your commission structure.

When recruiting salespeople be up-front about targets, and consequences for not hitting them to avoid disagreements further down the line.

Riding out the storm

The pandemic has had catastrophic effects on operations all around the world, however, now is the time to be agile. If this means a pivot in how you operate, be it temporary or permanent, then embrace it, but keep in mind that speed is key.

We’ve seen brands turn what is an awful situation, into opportunity. Alcohol brands switching to producing hand sanitiser, engineering businesses developing respirators – this is by no means the end of the road, it could just be a different route than the one you had planned.

Consistent communication is always vital in business, but particularly when scaling. Being up front with your team is a must and in these extremely uncertain times, and that honesty is more important than ever.

Bear in mind that this goes two ways; as leaders you should of course, be the one paving the way in terms of vision and moving the business forward, however allowing yourself the opportunity to be challenged by your team can be a highly-effective way to innovate and implement ideas you perhaps hadn’t considered.

It’s impossible to be prepared for every eventuality, so it’s imperative that you act with complete transparency and deliver any tough decisions with fair reasoning. Combine that with in-depth preparation and an openness to learn, and you’ll give yourself the best possible chance of scaling your business successfully.

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