There is a plethora of advice and well-written books on scaling up startups. However, a majority of these are targeting product companies. Through this mini-series, I want to share my thoughts and a methodology on scaling a small services-based company of ~100 people to the next level – a mid-sized company of 100-400 full-time employees.
If you are a successful or somewhat successful, small-size company that has more or less weathered the challenges of starting up a services-based company AND you are profitable, then read on. Being profitable is a must to think of scaling up.
First of all, congratulations for what you have accomplished so far.
When you look behind, the path that you have navigated so far has devoured many; some of them smart, kind, deserving, and otherwise successful individuals.
There are three things that will help you as a company to scale to the next level.
- Mindset of Customer Success
Mindset of Customer Success
Let’s start with this thought:
The duties of a true fiduciary are straightforward.
This is easier said than done!
In the services business, you are being compensated for providing a service. This is a basic fact. The question is, whose success matters? Your’s or the Customer’s?
They are quite interlinked and have a symbiotic relationship.
Still, whose interest comes first, especially if they are not aligned?
The right answer: Customer’s, ALWAYS.
That’s easy to say, but difficult to practice in a few instances. Those are the instances that matter the most and will define the future of your company.
Customer Success should be ingrained into your mindset so that you can turn every stone to make the Customer Successful.
The equation is relatively simple. If Customer succeeds, then you succeed automatically.
How? Timely compensation, referrals from happy customers, more business from successful Customers.
On the other hand, if the Customer fails for whatsoever reason, you, the service provider should not be the reason for that failure.
Even with best effort all around, not all Customers succeed in this brutal software landscape.
There are many reasons a software endeavor can fail – poor market fit, positioning, saturation, no business use case, inability to procure more funds or make sales etc.
Most of these are beyond your control and the onus is on the Customer. Your fiduciary duty is to find ways to make your work for the Customer a success.
The mindset of Customer Success is important for another big reason.
Technology is built by humans (still).
It is ideated, defined, documented, developed, tested and deployed by various human beings.
At times, outside service providers are treated with suspicion; there is a lack of mutual trust. Lack of trust breeds lack of respect. Eventually that leads to friction.
I have seen this happen several times when both the Customer and the service provider’s team go into their red/blue corner and the boxing match begins. Instead of focusing on success, the energy shifts to blame, defense, and attacks whether public or private.
This is exactly where the mindset of Customer Success is needed the most. Burying our ego and focusing on the hard path of successful outcome for the Customer is extremely difficult.
Yet, that is what the professionals do.
As time goes by, the heat of the moment wears off. The deadline which seemed like it would make/break the planet earth passes for good or worse. The retrospect brings clarity.
How one conducted during the blitz will set the tone for the future. That is how relationships are formed or corroded and ultimately dissolved.
Have you faced such incidents in your business life where your focus on Customer Success turned the tide in your favor?
In the next part of the series, I will share my thoughts on the concept of ‘A Good Match’, one of the essential elements of all round success in the service business.