Every entrepreneur should have the dream of scaling up his/her startup. Of course, the dream is not enough; yet it motivates you. You also need to have the right systems and processes, people, and plans. Scalability is a mindset, according to Mahendra Pyati, Co-founder of hostel aggregator platform AAO Hostels. At the Rajasthan Startup Fest going on in Jaipur, he spoke at length about ‘Strategies to Scale Up Your Businesses Sustainably.’
According to Mahendra, a scalable business can adapt to a larger workload without compromising performance or losing revenue. “Before you scale up, ensure that your product is poised to grow and make sure your fundamentals are foolproof. When you are scaling your product, ensure that your quality is standardised,” he says.
Outsourcing vs in-house
To minimise the costs and get better work done faster, Mahendra recommends outsourcing the jobs that are “non-essential” to the startup’s core offering. “Startups can’t afford the luxury of doing everything themselves, and if you want to be strong enough to grow, you will need to outsource all non-essential roles,” he says.
At AAO Hostels, finances are outsourced, as it was becoming a headache to the founders who were not experienced in the subject. Now all they need to do is give an Excel sheet with their data at the end of every month to the agency.
On the other hand, when it comes to hiring, Mahendra stresses on hiring the right people with the right mindset. He says it is worth spending some money and outsourcing the exercise to get the right ones.
“When you are a founder, the first person you hire should be smarter than you. What you need is better coding, marketing, finances and attitude - so outsource all these things, or get another team head to do it. As a founder, your duty is to create the right environment, zeal, enthusiasm, and culture at the workplace,” he says.
Everyone in AAO Hostels’ team travels, learn processes, and write content too. “Create leadership in them - they should talk, dream, and work the same way you do. When we hire, we have 2-3 hour conversations, to ensure the fit. We have limited money and limited time, you can’t do people management (after hiring) but only focus on growth,” Mahendra says. He believes that in order to be truly scalable, your business should be able to function just fine without you.
“They say your business should make money when you are sleeping. Your team matters. Don’t bother about daily running, finances etc. The founder should think only for long term - what to do after ten months,” he says.
Keep an eye on social media
Every new startup is in the public eye. Early-stage B2C startups often get direct, fast feedback from customers on their Facebook page itself. But Mahendra cautions that whatever happens on social media will be examined by the world.
“It is important in your startup days to watch your social media carefully. Fledgling startups can’t afford to make a major PR hit with a social media flap. Big companies might be able to weather the storm, but your startup is not ready for it,” he warns.
Scalability is about surviving as much as it is about growing. According to Mahendra, if you hit a PR fiasco, you are limiting your chance of survival and scalability. “There are ten other startups exactly like you - they may push you down to climb up,” he says.
According to Mahendra, when you scale up, don't stop. "Make sure when you start scaling up, you're doing the right thing. A business is scalable only when it has the right people on board," he adds.