Scaling up a business can be the most unpredictable and challenging stage of the entrepreneurial journey. Having proved that their concept is viable, business owners need to overcome growing pains, which can include meeting ambitious revenue targets, effective cost management and hiring the right talent, all the while preserving the company's culture and mission.
Q: Do you use any objective measures to assess the positive impact of your business?
Source: HSBC Private Banking, Essence of Enterprise
Ada works with clients to install water stations across their facilities, as well as monitor the water supply and quality, service the stations and produce reports for them, which can be included in their own internal reporting. From the commercial standpoint, Urban Spring equips clients with information (like how many plastic bottles have been avoided) that are positive for the environment and for clients, as they translate into cost savings.
"Fast forward five years, and we are starting to see change because of data," says Ada. "It has helped evolve the theme of sustainability from initially being more for 'hard core' green activists, to more of a lifestyle change, focused on personal wellness."
Hiring the right talent can help entrepreneurs overcome growing pains
Community is one part of what keeps a firm and its founders focused on the mission; the other is colleagues and company culture. "It is a challenge to find talent with the right experience and people who have the right motivations, who understand the mission and can continue to bring the right attitude to work every day and drive that mission forward," says Ada.
Entrepreneurship can also be lonely, so securing diverse talent is critical to business success. It goes beyond having the right skills and includes softer aspects, like their motivations, attitudes and working styles. For Marie, creativity stems from diversity of thought, which is why she has focused on nurturing a global team, with different experiences and backgrounds, since Workwell's inception.
Harper Reed, founder of Modest Inc, a software solutions firm, attributes much of his firm's success to its diverse colleagues: "One of my cheat codes [to growth] is to hire people from different cultural contexts, different backgrounds, ethnicities, ages, education levels. Figure out how to put them together because they can help patch up many weaknesses."
"As an entrepreneur, you are mostly alone when it comes to solving problems and making decisions, which is why it's important for me to be surrounded by good people," says Marie. "My team comes from so many different backgrounds; it's incredibly moving to see them come together to create something with a shared vision."
"We don't believe in fixed hierarchies or in having bosses within or outside of the teams. Instead, we rely on peer-based mutual commitments and ownership. So, when it comes to hiring, for example, I now know that sharing similar values is key for longevity."
Scaling a business is challenging as it compels entrepreneurs to juggle and reconcile many competing priorities. Those who are willing to listen and learn, however, will continue to evolve and broaden the appeal of their mission, growing their community and maximising impact.