30 to 50 Employees

30 to 50 Employees

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.

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‘Give Away Your Legos’ and Other Commandments for Scaling Startups

review.firstround.com

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Find a bigger Lego tower

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.).

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Checklist for founders eyeing rapid growth
  1. Write down the qualities you want your company to embody.
  2. Write down your vision — what you’re doing in the world.
  3. Communicate these things again and again, all the time. You can’t overcommunicate these ideas.
  4. Focus on hiring quality people rather than speed. Don’t lower your bar because you need to grow faster. It will come back to bite you.
  5. Fire people. Just do it!
  6. Hire amazing leaders as early as you can and help them grow their capabilities as the company grows.
  7. Prioritize principles over process.
  8. Keep giving away your Legos! And tell everyone around you to do the same. It’s going to be okay.

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200 to 750 Employees

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.

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Give away your Legos

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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Advice to leaders
  • Help people understand it's normal to feel anxious or scared. This is what they should expect during rapid growth.
  • Encourage them to ride their emotions out and postpone acting on their emotions when new people come aboard.
  • Set up 1:1s after a month to see how eveyone is handling/is affected by growth.
  • Point to a new Lego tower that needs to get built, and help people picture the reality of their next job.

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Molly Graham

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.

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Molly Graham

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.

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50 to 200 Employees

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.

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High performers in startups

People who are successful at fast-growing companies:

  • Are able to adapt to the chaos and uncertainty of adding new people
  • Redefine their jobs on a regular basis (every 3-6 months)
  • Accept the uncomfortable emotions that come when teams double in a short period of time

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You can start by sharing your struggles and failures, but don't fall for the trap of sitting around complaining about your job.

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Check email only at set points during the day. 
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  • you can also reserve time to read and respond to email after a long period of focused work, or at the time of day when your energy and creativity are at their lowest.

Also, explain to your colleagues/boss/clients that you only check email at certain times, and that they can call you or use instant messaging if the matter is really urgent.

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