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3 Top Things to Consider Before Scaling

Updated: 5 days ago

Written by: Karina Mikhli, CEO and Founder of Right-Size COO

Do you remember when "failing" (or "failing fast") was what everyone in the startup world was talking about? I feel like "scaling" (and "growth hacking") took its place as the new thing every startup founder should aim for.

Karina Mikhli, CEO and Founder of Right-Size COO

In non-startup speak, "scaling" just means that you're growing but the key to scaling is to do it smart. Here are the top three things to consider before you begin to scale:

  1. Why are you scaling?

  2. What should you hire for and what should you outsource?

  3. What will your role continue to be?


Why are you scaling?


The first thing you need to decide—and know—is why you want to grow. Are you doing it because you have to fulfill customer demand or because your investors are breathing down your neck or because you were told it's what you should aim for?


Unless you're doing it for the former (increased customer demand), I recommend you rethink doing it at all. Scaling is not easy to do nor to maintain, and if you don't have enough sales to warrant it, you're going to be fighting an uphill battle.


It's also okay to grow slowly and organically, and to not want to grow past a certain point. As long as it supports your lifestyle—and you can pay your employees and bills—don't let anyone pressure you into aiming for more than you know you need or want.


What should you hire for and what should you outsource?


Assuming you're scaling for the right reasons, you need to get the resources to help you do more. This probably involves upgrading some of your systems and tools, but it also involves getting more human resources, which does not necessarily translate to more staff.


Instead of going on a hiring spree, first decide what your core service and functions are and which ones are supportive. The core functions should be kept in-house but supporting and administrative ones are probably cheaper to outsource at first (you can read more about what to delegate via outsourcing here).


Since technology has made remote work viable, there are more options for hiring both staff and freelancers. You should consider whether you need to hire onsite or offsite (which has its own potential cost-savings), and whether you need to hire full-time or can it start part-time. For freelancers/ consultants, I recommend hiring hourly and part-time, and if possible, remote unless having them onsite has advantages.


"There is no one right answer nor will that answer remain the same through your company's journey."

What will your role continue to be?


The last thing to consider is your role.


As a baby startup founder, you had to do it all but as your company scales, you will need to bring on (or outsource to) specialists. And given your strengths and weaknesses, it may or may not make sense for you to remain at the helm. It's better for you to figure this out and be honest with yourself, then to realize too late and/or have that decision taken away from you.


This is also your opportunity to return to what you love to do. If you've hated running the business and dealing with everything but "x" (insert whatever function/role gives you joy and/or is your strength), this is your chance to focus on x again.


So should you scale or not?


There is no one right answer nor will that answer remain the same through your company's journey. But the wrong thing to do is to grow for the wrong reasons or poorly, which will lead to wasted money and alienating your current customers.


You can always scale later but it's a lot harder to regain customer trust or recover from a bad first impression.

Karina Mikhli, CEO and Founder of Right-Size COO, started out as a teacher and then migrated to publishing. She spent much of her career managing content operations at various publishing houses, and the rest of it helping startups and nonprofits. Along the way she realized she had a knack for managing and optimizing operations and teams, streamlining processes, and setting up and automating efficient systems, which is something she realized many startup founders and small business owners had a need for. As Right-Size COO, she offers flexible and affordable packages so that everyone can afford the right COO for their current needs, regardless of the size of their business or budget.


To learn more about Karina, you can visit her LinkedIn page or contact her at karina@rightsizecoo.com.