5 Tips To Scaling Your Cybersecurity Company Past 20 Employees
By: Justin Fimlaid
Scaling and growing your business will be the most exciting and frustrating time in your career. For the businesses that are growing and have a solution that resonates with the market, there are common causes for the struggles that accompany scaling past 20 employees. For some businesses this can start as soon as 10 employees, for other businesses this could be at 40 employees or more. The key is that businesses require added systemization in order to scale and to keep up with the resulting demands. Said another way, this means all the things that you did as a small business, in a very hands-on way, now requires more business procedures and policies for other employees to follow to deliver the same outcomes. As companies adopt and accept these new systems, it can be a challenging time to navigate the unrealized pain points that come with new processes and new employees taking on new and different tasks within the business.
For many founders and entrepreneurs this is the first of many inflection points that will determine whether your business will make it to the next inflection point. For businesses who aren’t prepared, this is as big as they will likely ever be.
So why does this happen?
There are five major reasons for these common challenges:
- The company is growing and more people have to be empowered to solve frontline challenges in order to achieve scale.
Obviously, if you’re experiencing the need to scale you understand that all the things that you used “just get done” now requires technical training, delivered in context to new employees. For companies that are growing quickly this dissemination is urgent. This may be the first time that you will have to document procedures, operating cadences, and even service level objectives for your staff so they have guidelines on how to operate and perform to your standards.
- The company is now more dynamic.
There are now more inputs and outputs then there were when you were smaller. Not all employees will understand, or even see, all of the information that is considered when making decisions about the business. This is naturally frustrating for employees who could previously see all of the information that was being presented to the business. For those employees, it can feel like a loss of access, responsibility, and standing within the organization. While it’s unlikely that this is the intention, truth of the matter is this is a real perception. It’s a reality that employees need to be supported through so that they can understand and accept it. This separation and compartmentalization ensures that employees aren’t overloaded with information that could subsequently distract them from their actual responsibilities.
- As you grow, employees begin to care more about their position and status within the company.
As the company grows, it is critical to define a clear career path that also shows growth for the employees. Embedding this type of empowerment and support within your culture is key, especially as you solidify your culture as the culture for the future. If you feel you have a great culture, now is it time to institutionalize it. If not, this is one of your last chances to replace your culture with something more desirable, before that type of change is dangerously disruptive.
- With this growth, you need to learn new ways to communicate.
While it’s difficult, communication is the most important element of stable growth and success as you move into the future. It takes practice and discipline to be purposeful and consistent, about communication, but good communication, with the right level of information, is critical to enable the organization to move in unison. Over-communicating and acting as strong communicator can temporarily make up for a lack of some policies and procedures. Communication and leadership will also ingrain the culture that you want to build within the organization. If there’s one skill that you must develop, that skill is communication.
- To achieve scale and grow past this inflection point, you need to develop systems that allow you to manage from a distance.
For founders new to leadership roles, this will be an uncomfortable skill to develop. Releasing control and some visibility to others requires substantial trust, and as that trust develops, a modest set of new practices, processes, and procedures, will ease the transition to managing from a distance, allowing you to gain comfort that events can manage themselves without your intervention. In the current context of remote work these business systems have only become more important, as organizations seek out mechanisms to validate that they are achieving the results they have projected. Business systems can also be difficult to develop, and the best strategy is to always improve and to fail fast. Committing to experimentation and incremental improvements, while embracing educational failures, yields outsized benefits overtime.
Growing and scaling a business will be hard but very rewarding. If you find yourself in the position of crossing this inflection point, know that it’s likely the first of many to come. This inflection point may vary from business to business, but it will show up somewhere between 15 and 40 employees. A similar inflection point will appear between 50-100 employees. As businesses grow they develop different demands and require different operating cadences for the size of the organization, but being conscious, and creative, in maintaining the health of your course, your culture, and your customers will make those simply steps to your next level of success.
If you have questions about scaling your cybersecurity business, Almanna Cyber can help you see around some of these corners and provide you with the type of experience and advice that will help you to successfully expand your business.