How to grow and scale your startup

18 April 2017 / / By Kaila Lawrence

Pre-revenue startups face unique challenges when it comes to growth. As a startup, when you are pre-revenue it means that you’ve got a great idea, a couple of checks in the account, but you’re not making bank. Attracting A-game players when you have limited resources in one of the toughest talent acquisition markets on the planet means that you’ve got your work cut out for you. As part of our ongoing series to support the startup ecosystem, we’re sharing a few best practices when you’re looking to start scaling your team.

Free snacks aren’t enough

Find key aspects of your company that differentiate you from every other Joe Startup out there. No, we’re not talking talking about the snack bins, though having excellent snacks helps. Key factors to consider would be: Do you allow dogs in the office? Is your location close to transportation? Is your team able to work remote? Answers to these questions will help those potential new hires understand how they can “make it work” even if the pay isn’t as great. It tells potential candidates that they will experience more flexibility and address specific lifestyle pain points like always having to rush home to take care of their dog or leave the house at the crack of dawn because CalTrain is never on time.

Referrals are the keys to the kingdom

Employees who have been referred tend to stay longer, become more involved in the projects they’re working on, and can be more flexible when it comes to aspects like compensation or benefits because they are already working with people they know, trust, and like.





Just be careful, because sometimes referral networks can create silos within a company by bringing in pre-existing relationships. One way to avoid this is to leverage your Investor’s networks. Or, if you are in an accelerator, try reaching out to other companies in your cohort. Sometimes a really talented candidate is not a good fit for them, but would be an excellent new addition to your startup.

Invented titles are short-term solutions

Ask yourself: am I asking too much of a single role? In some cases, particularly marketing, it’s easy to cram as much as you can into one role. Chief “All the Things” Officer – while cute and funny – is not an actual title anyone will enjoy or be successful in. When someone joins a startup, there is a general expectation that they will be wearing multiple hats. However, based on your resources it might make more strategic sense to hire someone for a singular objective, such as Go-To-Market strategy, and then support them with a network of trusted contractors to provide a safe foundation of reliable resources. This will prevent burn out and help you as a company double down on the important skills you need the most.


Always remember that sustainable growth for your startup takes time and as your company matures, the first hundred employees shape the culture of the company. By practicing sustainable growth early on, you can ensure a solid foundation for the challenges ahead of you and your team.

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