‘Give Away Your Legos’ and Other Commandments for Scaling Startups
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This is where everything gets hard and you go from being a family to being a company.
This stage is about developing the right principles. Write down your mission, values and philosophies. Make it clear who you are and how you do things.
Talk about those things constantly. When it feels like you're repeating yourself every day, that's probably when you're communicating just enough.
If you want to be one of these type of people who started at Facebook at 25 people and ended up running a huge department, you have to get really good at giving away your Legos. If you hold on to answering customer support queries yourself or writing all the blog posts yourself, you’re never going to run customer support or product marketing.
Adding people doesn’t mean there’s less work for the people that are already there. It means that the entire company can do more.
This is an opportunity to find a new job — a bigger and better Lego tower to build. It's more about shifting the content of your work, not necessarily changing your title.
However, keep in mind this requires you to give away parts of your old job, and to trust other people with something you care about (projects, products, code etc.).
People who are successful at fast-growing companies:
A week ago, someone might have told you they hate their Legos and want to get rid of them. But as soon as you hire someone else, they suddenly want to hang on to all of them.
If you want your team or company to have certain values, to care about certain things, to act in certain ways, the time to do it is in these first 200 people — or the first 100 if possible. After that, a lot of other stuff takes hold.
Hiring is a network effect. The first 100 people you hire will define the next 200.
Whatever your company looks like at this stage is how it will be when you're older and bigger.
After 200 employees, any shift in culture requires a lot of work from all leaders within the company. However, when you see a trend over time that you don’t like, you need to aggressively manage it. Otherwise you can end up with some really bad habits as a company.
In a startup, if you want to grow as fast as your company, you have to give away your job every couple months.
At a scaling startup, giving away responsibility is the only way to move on to building bigger and better things.
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