Life in the fast lane
A roadmap for scaling up your medium sized business
While one person can start a business, the scale-ups we interviewed stressed the importance of a team in pushing on from there. An ambitious mindset is fundamental to starting the fast-growth journey, but delivery on these aspirations requires action. The chief executive and leadership team have the capacity to make the key decisions that spark a growing company into one that is scaling.
Scale-up leaders also highlight the importance of networks and peer learning when it comes to gaining the experience that can help their company grow quickly. That's why the CBI developed its ' M-club ' programme which is exclusively for high-level managers of medium sized businesses to network, receive expert advice and share experiences. From the London Stock Exchange ELITE programme to Future Fifty, joining ambitious networks can help pass on valuable experience and contacts.
What is clear though is that there is no 'one size fits all' approach to a great leadership team. Scale-up companies exhibit a diversity in the way they are managed; some have multiple co-founders that guide the business, while others have the traditional single point of accountability. What unites the different structures though is a clear management structure, an ability to adapt to change, complementary skill sets and trust among the leadership.
Rapid change often accompanies fast growth so ensure the leadership team have a clear cohesive goal the company are working towards
"Being a fast-growth start-up meant that Two Circles has always been in an exciting state of evolution. Change has been a constant. I make sure to write a weekly email – the ''Weekly Podium'' – which keeps everyone engaged in the delivery of our strategic plan. We find it helps keep people focused and in tune with the business as it grows and evolves. Ultimately this results in deeper team engagement levels and smarter decision-making."
Matt Rogan, CEO and Co-Founder, Two Circles
Make sure you honestly assess and are aware of the respective strengths and weaknesses of the leadership team
"Don't settle for the status quo. In a fast-growing business, every 3 to 6 months you have got to be thinking whether you have the right structure and flow of information for the business."
Jon Reynolds, CEO and Co-Founder, SwiftKey
Codify culture and stress test the internal processes that spread the information
"Maintaining culture in a fast-growth business is difficult but incredibly important. Our strategy is to codify the key values and then make sure employees are measured and rewarded against these indicators."
Mark Smith, Executive Chairman and Founder, The Car Finance Company
Build a board which provides strategic direction, ideally includes people with experience in scaling-up companies and has the most appropriate chair
As a company scale-ups, culture change is natural process that the leadership of a business need to actively address. Flourishing scale-up companies place significant emphasis on codifying their culture and rewarding their employees for demonstrating those values. From talking to a wide variety of scale-up leaders the importance of implementing process for disseminating what makes a business tick in the first place is clear.