Once you've figured out the math behind what it takes to grow your business and you are ready to hire world-class, how do you speed scale your startup so you can grow and thrive?
In the calendar year of 2014, my startup Porch.com went from a startup of around 30 employees to well over 300. Scaling that fast wasn't easy, and with a steep growth curve requires an even steeper learning curve.
Throughout the process we tried many things--some worked and some didn't. Below are the five things I learned along the way that may help others as they work to speed scale their business.
1) Set the talent bar high and keep it there
The concept of keeping a high talent bar is extremely important when you are in rapid growth mode at a startup. The saying, "talent attracts talent" holds true--smart people want to work with other smart people. If you let the talent bar slip, hiring employees that aren't qualified or a good fit for your organization, it can have a lasting negative effect on future recruiting efforts.
2) Culture is the common denominator
Since day one a core principle of our business has been to avoid the hiring people that embody characteristics that kill a company's culture. It doesn't matter if we think we have the most talented candidate for a position, if they don't align with the foundation of our culture, it's not even worth the time to interview. At the end of the day, there is no question that culture must be the common denominator for how you choose who to bring on to your team.
3) Startup employees love big challenges
In a startup there is never a shortage of things that need to be done. Throughout this year I've noticed that the best candidates are sincerely enthusiastic about the possibility of tackling big hills. They don't shy away from what seems impossible; they are energized by it. When you bring on really smart people it's crucial to have massive challenges waiting for them.
4) Employee happiness should always be prioritized
Employee happiness should always live high on the list of company priorities. It can be a challenge to try and keep people content when you're hiring aggressively. The real key to true employee happiness is engagement, making sure that employees have things like meaningful work, access to skip-level managers, and consistent feedback on their jobs.
5) Space fills up quicker than you think
When we started Porch, we were operating with 10 employees out of the basement of my home. Since then we've grown out of two offices and will have outgrown our current space well before the end of the year. That presents a challenge in the physical sense, as you need to account for different work styles. When working conditions become a bit cramped it can have a positive impact as it does bring people together, which fosters a culture of collaboration and togetherness. But, you don't want to be caught unprepared. As you grow keep in mind what your future needs are so you can act accordingly and make any future office moves efficient and smooth.