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Getting The Systems In Place To Handle Hypergrowth

Hypergrowth is a period of rapid expansion in a startup's business. Traditional brick and mortar or manufacturing businesses often need to scal staff with a rapid accelleration in customers. Software, and especially Software as a Service (SaaS), might have a rapid expansion in customers with a lagging expansion in staff, followed by rapid hiring. Some SaaS businesses may choose to seek investors to expand staff earlier, but we all end up doing so eventually. This can be a very exciting time for a startup, but it can also be challenging.

Some companies lose their DNA when they grow quickly. Others adapt and respond to challenges too slowly and falter. There are a number of things that startups can do to effectively handle hypergrowth:

  1. Have a strong foundation. Before you start growing rapidly, it's important to have a strong foundation in place. This includes having a clear vision for your company, a strong team in place, and a solid financial plan. Without a strong foundation, it will be difficult to sustain hypergrowth.

  2. Be prepared to adapt. When you're growing rapidly, things are constantly changing. Be prepared to adapt to these changes quickly. This means we need to be flexible and willing to change plans as needed, and have a way to communicate why the plans need to change.

  3. Invest in the team. As you grow, you'll need to invest in your team. This means hiring more people, providing them with training, and giving them the resources they need to be successful. Your team is your most important asset, so it's important to take care of them.

  4. Manage your finances carefully. When you're growing rapidly, it's important to manage your finances carefully. This means tracking your spending, making sure you have enough cash on hand, and planning for the future. If you don't manage your finances carefully, you could end up in financial trouble.

  5. Communicate effectively. As you grow, it's important to communicate effectively with your team, your customers, and your investors. This means keeping everyone informed of your progress, and being transparent about your challenges. If you don't communicate effectively, you could lose the trust of your stakeholders.

  6. Use a business operating system. EOS (the Entrepreneurial Operating System) was created by Gino Wickman to help other startup founders stay on track and prioritize what is important at each step of their journey.

  7. Find mentors to help with the journey. EOS is a good start, but having a network of people you can call on to help understand what awaits you at each step of a journey is critical and often quite validating.

Enjoy the ride! Hypergrowth can be a lot of work, but it's also a lot of fun. It's a time of great opportunity, and it's a chance to make a real impact on the world. Soak it all in as it might be a once in a lifetime experience!

One aspect of growing quickly is to make sure that people have the resources they need. When a startup is small, it's easy to manage access to systems. Everyone who needs access gets it, and it's easy to keep track of who has what. But as the startup grows, it becomes more difficult to manage access manually, especially when we know there will be compliance requirements in the future that will require us to limit access to various systems in ways we might not expect early on. For this reason, consider some of the following options, and probably earlier than you might think:

  1. Use a centralized system for managing access. A centralized system makes it easy to track who has access to what systems. It also makes it easy to revoke access when employees leave or change roles. There are a number of IdPs to choose from. Check the systems you employ and the platforms team members use, and see which IdPs support each.

  2. Use role-based access control (RBAC). RBAC allows you to control access to systems based on a user's role. This helps to ensure that users only have access to the systems that they need.

  3. Use two-factor authentication (2FA). 2FA adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to enter a code from their phone in addition to their password. This helps to protect against unauthorized access to systems.

  4. Educate employees on security best practices. It's important to educate employees on security best practices. This includes things like creating strong passwords, not sharing passwords, and being careful about what links they click on.

  5. Start using security tools early. Use a Mobile Device Management (MDM) tool to manage device, get antivirus and other security tools installed early (it’s easier once there’s an MDM in place), and make sure everyone is holistic in their commits and other systems for tracking why they made various changes to infrastructure and code.

  6. Add a compliance manager early. This will help to lay a foundation for working responsibly. Many of the tools out there can automatically hook into the ecosystem of tools startups use and get us on the right path for secure practices early.

  7. Use a password manager. A password manager helps users to create and store strong passwords for all of their systems. This helps to improve security and reduce the risk of password breaches.

Customers and employees expect us to protect their data and systems. Employees also need to have access to certain assets they need to be productive. It might seem like a lot of extra work for a team of 3 or 5 to setup an IdP like Okta or Azure AD, enable 2FA, force all commits to have a bunch of information in them, install MDM and other security tools, implement complaince tools, and then share secrets through a password manager. But it’s often harder to take away access and resources than to give them too liberally early on. There’s a reason that larger organizations, cyber insurance policies, or investors require various compliance frameworks - and the earlier we start acting like a real company, the easier it will be to become one.

At least one of these types of software is easy to deploy - check out the Secret Chest private beta to learn more about how we help organizations manage their passwords (and all the other secrets) in a safe and secure manner, and add a layer of 2FA where it might not otherwise be available.

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