4 Essential Skills To Scale Your Startup
You’ve found yourself on a startup rocketship ride! Woohoo!
Whether you’re the founder CEO or early employee, if you’re fortunate enough to be part of a fast growing company, there’s amazing opportunity ahead.
But there’s also doubt, uncertainty, and constant chaos. You’ve never done this before. How do you continue to add value and be the leader or employee your company needs as it continually evolves?
4 Essential Skills For Scaling Your Startup
1. Give Away Your Legos
Give Away Your Legos and Other Commandments For Scaling Startups is one of the best articles on the mental game of scaling.
Giving Your Legos = handing off your current responsibilities so you can take on new challenges.
Sometimes that means trusting a junior person to take over (and supporting them as they make mistakes and learn!) Sometimes it is bringing in someone who is more experienced and qualified than you.
Both scenarios take trust, low ego, and a willingness to put company over self.
At Rigor, “Legos” became a safe code word to check-in with each other:
“Is it time for me to give up my Legos?
“Am I holding on to my Legos too much?”
Talking about “Legos” openly and frequently, including in a team setting, enables people to prepare and be comfortable with the process.
2. Learn Faster Than Your Startup Is Growing
How do you do this?
- Listen to podcasts (How I Built This, Work Life)
- Read books (Mom Test, Good To Great, The Startup Playbook, How To Win Friends)
- Hire a coach (Meghan Shakar, Bob Lewis, Marcel Henderson, Margaret Weniger)
- Join a peer group (EO, YPO, Chief or relevant Meetup)
- Find mentors (Atlanta Tech Village’s Mentor & Advisor Program)
3. Keep Having Fun
It’s easy to get bogged down with problems, Imposter Syndrome, or non-stop stress.
How do you keep perspective?
- Stay connected to your team.
- Be grateful for how far you’ve come.
- Celebrate the wins.
- Love on your customers.
- Embrace the messy learnings.
- Enjoy the opportunity.
- Focus on effort, process, and growth.
Want specifics? Have fun in <1 minute per day:
- Share one thing you’re grateful for in your daily standup
- Tell a funny story from the early days
- Tell a funny story from right meow
- Make fun of yourself
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Ask for someone’s “favorite part of the day” or “favorite company memory” at a team meeting
- Hire someone funny (upfront investment, infinite payback)
4. Stay Healthy
Maintaining your physical and mental health is key for the long haul. How do you stay with the company over many years? Don’t burn out!
You also have to be in a good place personally to be a good leader. Staying positive, maintaining composure, and making thoughtful decisions require a strong foundation.
This means taking care of your body, mind, soul, and relationships.
Figure out what your personal anchors are and stick to those consistently.
I know CEOs who:
- Sleep 8 hrs/night
- Workout daily
- Write or blog
- Worship regularly
- Focus on nutrition and diet (Mark Suster)
- Limit schedule to 1 evening event per week
- Take an annual sabbatical (Mark Benioff)
- Eat dinner with their family (Sheryl Sandberg)
- Train for an Ironman, Leadville 100, or a marathon
…all while running a company.
Do they do all of these at once? Nope. Do they pick the most important ones and protect them in their schedule? Absolutely.
And if a CEO can do it, so can everyone!
Being part of a startup journey over many years is an incredible experience. You meet fantastic people, no day is the same, and you learn even more than you realize!
What have you noticed about the people that grow with the company, including the founders? Any suggestions from personal experience?