The Five Keys To Scaling A Startup

brett fox
5 min readAug 15

I’ll never forget it. About eight months into my company’s operational life, I was finishing up our board meeting. Our first product was being ready for launch right on schedule, and our investors were very happy with our progress.

Picture: Depositphotos

One of our investors, “Raul” asked me, “Why are you holding hiring flat?” He just didn’t understand it. So I explained that we were holding hiring flat because we wanted to extend our financial runway until we saw revenue growing.

Raul looked at me and said, “Don’t worry, we’ll support you.” It’s a classic VC saying that I’ll get back to this later. However, scaling your startup is usually related to scaling your team. So let’s start with:

Key number one. It takes people to scale, so recruiting your team from day zero is paramount.

You always want to be one step ahead as a CEO, so even if you don’t need people at the start, you’re going to need people at some point pretty quickly. That’s why you want to be always recruiting.

For most startups, including ours, the focus was on hiring engineers, but here’s where you can get into trouble. Let’s say you need five engineers in the next twelve months and you hire these engineers, so you’ve reached your goal.

Then you stop hiring and you stop recruiting and interviewing. That’s where you get into trouble.

You always want to be recruiting. You can always ask a great engineer to join your startup later, or, more likely, you might find the engineer will want to join you in six months or a year when they finish up the project they’re working on.

That always happened to us, and that’s perfect because now you have a flow of new hires ready to join your startup. Now, not all of them will join, but the majority will join your startup.

This simple strategy of always be recruiting helps you scale. Now, let’s move on to:

Key number two: It takes money to scale, so know the trade-offs of growth versus your cash.

Now, this seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Sales are growing, but you need money to grow. Now, how can that be? Let me…

brett fox

I work with startup CEOs to help them grow their businesses . I built several businesses from $0 to >$100M. Learn more at