If you know any experienced startup executives who have worked with entrepreneurs over the years, you will likely have heard stories of startups with great potential falling apart once they cross the threshold of 50 Employees. This is commonly known as the teenage phase of startups, a phase that often determines whether a company will make it big or not.
Startup timeline according to Employee Numbers
The founders and employees usually start showing decreasing interest in learning new names, and start to resent teaching people the same things they once learned. Even tolerance for the same mistakes they once did tends to wane.
Apathy and dissension can form among a second tier of employees. Small groups and cliques start to form, and allusions are made to ‘the good old days.’ Titles play a part, and more emphasis is given to the term “Senior.”
The good-old office politics starts here with power-plays. The formation of isolated groups increases, and tensions rise between the new clusters and the “old guard.”
40-49 Employees: What is happening?
This is when the showdown occurs. This is the phase of open chaos for all groups; when you feel the company is going off the rails, and when you need to get the teenage startup out of your house and out into the corporate world.
Watch: Going from start-up to scale-up
Chaos means Growth; but it will inevitably go wrong, even if it seems right
While 50 employees does mean growth – more likely faster than expected but still not out of hand – this needn’t necessarily be a problem. If the growth is happening organically, it means there is well-oiled machinery with strong ethics and values.
Chaos could also mean that company executives are working their part and not sticking to structure; but it is a sign to start paying attention because even if everything seems right, it will inevitably go wrong.
It is obvious that growth requires change, and doing nothing will increase the chaos while everything gets out of hand. So there are a few solutions that will come in handy for entrepreneurs in this crucial time:
- Centralise Rules and Policies and Make Them Transparent: Centralise all your rules and policies so that they are conveyed clearly to all employees working in all departments to prevent any ambiguity or discrepancies.
- Task Ownership and Lead the Team: At 50 Employees, your organization doesn’t need managers, as all employees can be managed well; but tasks do need oversight, so creating task ownership and appointing team leads will solve the hassle that comes with levels of management.
- Experiment: Implement policies used by successful companies in different departments on an experimental basis and find solutions that work best for you.
- Outsource with an option of hiring: Outsourcing to contractors and freelancers is the best option when experiencing growth with limited resources. Hire remote contractors and grant them full employment when you have the resources to do so. This is the best model for controlled growth with limited finances.
Way to cure the chaos
There is always a cure for the chaos that ensues as a startup expands. You just need to be able to pick your brains and be ready for experimentation. This is a crucial stage which, when dealt with properly, will open an array of opportunities to grow your company far and wide.