Scaling Lean in the Digital Age
The startup world is unique. Comprised of lean business plans, co-working spaces, and virtually no path to serve as precedent; the journey to success is subjective, and many times out of reach. However, what you lack in resources as a startup, you make up for in freedom. Freedom to create your own bylaws, to choose your own coworkers, and to explore your own vision for the company. But most companies die when they abuse that freedom, and fail to implement proper structure from the very beginning.
When a company grows, it has to scale. It typically hires more people to assume the excess work, and the overhead costs increase alongside those new hires. But there’s no reason for a company to ever stop being lean. If you’ve ever founded your own company, you know that the very beginning is the most difficult. You’re so focused on providing a wonderful product for your customers that the organization and efficiency of your spending often hits the back-burner. And if you grow your company too fast, you end up outgrowing your infrastructure and scrambling to make up for lost time. That’s when things go bad. The greatest precautionary measure that you can put into action as a founder is to take the time to create a structure that grows autonomously, maintaining a lean operating budget and staff as you scale.
10 years ago, a startup company had very little chance of being successful if it didn’t develop its own technological hardware or software. But that’s no longer the case. With older industries like real estate, oil & gas, and automobiles; one of the most powerful innovations isn’t in technology, but rather in staffing and operational structure. In these industries, companies tend to grow excessively, hiring more people than they actually need. They inflate to a point where their overhead costs outweigh the benefits that they receive from those employees.
But that doesn’t need to be the case. The wave of innovation within technology has led to a ripple effect that has crowned white-labeling and licensing as kings of the modern startup.
We now have an interesting opportunity at our hands. We’re able to combine career-old expertise and cunning technological innovations (developed externally by experts) to create the ultimate package: a lean, knowledgeable, and scalable startup that can accomplish with 5 people what a company needed 50 for a decade prior. Innovation lies in pairing knowledge of the most efficient technological trends with specialized implementation.