A trusted framework for your scale-up that avoids growing pains

As if being a start-up wasn’t challenging enough, being a scale-up is equally, if not more so. What makes the transition from start-up to scale-up is in the name – scale.

Yet the good news is you have received investment, and the reason why you were attractive enough to invest in was your scalability.

But what you need to scale is everything, and scaling everything is hard to do quarter-after-quarter, whilst avoiding plateaus.
Scale Up Framework
This is a tried and tested blueprint for helping you manage your scaling in a controlled and deliberate way, and achieving what you set-out to do or better.
Starting With Your Why
If you were asked why your scale-up exists, what would you say? What’s your Mission, Vision and Purpose? What is your? Some of this was probably in your Pitch Deck we’re guessing.
Mission
What do you do and who do you do it for?
Vision
What does achieving this Mission look like?
Purpose
Inspire everyone: Describe the cause everyone is signing-up for?
Your North Star
What KPI would connect with your Purpose and reason for being. The value you bring your customers? Can you think of a North Star Metric? It’s common for a North Star Metric to be amongst your Product KPIs, for example, Weekly Active Users?
The Pillars Of A Scale-up
If you were to take this one step further and have to define the ‘Pillars’ or ‘Key Battlegrounds’ you must win in order to achieve your Mission, Vision and Purpose.

What would they be? Are they related to traditional SaaS Metrics like:
CAC
New MRR
Expansion Sales
Churn
With Pillars like:
Growth
Retention
It’s pretty fundamental to your scale that you can:
Acquire customers cost effectively ‘as measured by’ metrics like LTV:CAC
Grow New MRR
Expand customers accounts so they buy more
Customers stay with you and keep getting value
It’s pretty fundamental to your scale that you can:
Acquire customers cost effectively ‘as measured by’ metrics like LTV:CAC
Grow New MRR
Expand customers accounts so they buy more
Customers stay with you and keep getting value
Or are they more Product and People centric:
Product Engagement
Customer Referrals
Employee Happiness and Wellbeing
It also fundamental that:
Customers engage with your product on a consistent basis
They love your product enough to get your referral engine going and optimize your social proof
The talent you are able to attract is happy, engaged and developing
If these battles were won, would your MRR and Churn almost definitely be scaling?

Now that’s a good debate to have. Are you a Sales or Product Centric Scale-up? Can you be both? Are great strategic pillars for a Scale-up:
Fast Growth
Great Retention
Sticky Product
Happy Employees
Which Means It Is Time For Metrics
You didn’t get to being a Scale-up without knowing your numbers.

Are you ‘measuring what matters’, whilst not getting bogged down in measurement, thus causing analysis paralysis.
Leading & Lagging Indicators
Have you defined the fewest number of leading indicators – KPIs that would align with your Pillars and predict the lagging indicators – KPIs. Some metrics can of course be both.

We also should not worry about whether we have access to that metric right now as well. Worry more about whether it is the right metric to have and focus on. We can always start to measure a metric and get a baseline of where you are now.

Here are some ideas:

Pillar – Fast Growth

Metric – Sign-ups

Metric – SQLs

Metric – New Customers

Metric – Deal Conversion Rate

Metric – Average Revenue Per User / Account

Metric – Ramped Rep Count

Metric – Sales Cycle

Pillar – Great Retention

Metric – Churn

Metric – Expansion Sales

Metric – Customer NPS

Pillar – Sticky Product

Metric – Conversion To Paying From Trial

Metric – Daily / Weekly Active Users

Metric – Micro Conversions e.g. Invited Users, Uploaded File

Metric – Bugs

Pillar – Happy Employees

Metric – Employee NPS

Metric – Internal Referral Rate

Metric – Employee Retention Rate

Metric – Glassdoor Ratings

Pillar

Metric

Fast growth

Sign-ups

SQLs

New Customers

Deal Conversion Rate

Average Revenue Per User / Account

Ramped Rep Count

Sales Cycle

Great Retention

Churn

Expansion Sales

Customer NPS

Sticky Product

Conversion To Paying From Trial

Daily / Weekly Active Users

Micro Conversions e.g. Invited Users, Uploaded File

Bugs

Happy Employees

Employee NPS

Internal Referral Rate

Employee Retention Rate

Glassdoor Ratings

What are your key Scale-up Metrics?
If you were to only focus on these Metrics would you have a high level of confidence that you would indeed Scale-up?
Setting Objectives & Key Results

There are not many scale-ups that have not used OKRs so we will not give you the 101 of OKRs here. You can learn about OKRs more here if they are new, and if you’ve struggled with OKRs, this is a good video about common OKR mistakes to watch.

Here are some examples that build on the building blocks we’ve been through.

Obj – We’re scaling quickly and sustainably
KR – We’re adding 100 New Customers this Quarter
KR – The Average Revenue Per New Account is $10K
KR – We have 10 Ramped Reps
KR – Our CAC is less than $1K
Obj – Clients value our product and are staying with us
KR – Out Net Churn is 1%
KR – Our Expansion Sales as % of new MRR is 20%
KR – Our Client NPS is
Obj – Product & engineering are delivering customer value
KR – 20% of trials are converting to paying customers
KR – Our Daily Active Users is up from 5K to 10K
KR – 10% of New Users invite > 5 Users
KR – SQL to Deal Conversion Rate is 22%
Obj – People love our Mission & Culture
KR – Our staff are staying for over 2.5 years on average
KR – Our employee NPS equals our clients at 9
KR – 100% of our new employees come from referral
Of course, one of the many great things about OKRs, that makes them better than simpler way of setting goals, like SMART, is the ability to group Key Results under Objectives, which you can see above, and cascade goals, creating child OKRs from either an OKR or an individual Key Result.

Let’s take the OKR: We’re scaling quickly where matters

It would be easy to see how Sales & Marketing could cascade their OKRs. For example:
Obj – Marketing are driving SQLs that convert
KR – We’ve passed 800 MQL to our SDR this quarter
KR – 30% of our MQLs convert to SQLs this quarter
Obj – Our SDR process is slick
KR – We follow-up MQLs within 6 hours
KR – We independently generated 1000 SQL this Quarter
What about the Objective – Product & engineering are delivering customer value?

There might be Engineering OKRs that are geared towards platform / system health e.g. Uptime, Speed, Bugs, Resolution Time, and Story Point Throughput. There might also be the Epics that are targeting this the OKRs. Are these OKRs or actually Initiatives.
Introducing The Initiative
If OKRs are what you want to achieve by the end of a year or quarter numerically, how you’re going about achieving is the job of the Initiative. An Initiative is a project (groups of tasks) or task that is being undertaken to achieve a OKR or single Key Result.
The Key to Success
For the Objective: Our SDR process is slick, this might include:

• Better outreach templates
• Improve sales automation workflows
• Recruit and train more SDR
• Improve Salesforce Implementation to alert SDR to MQLs faster

All of which can have independent owners, collaborators, and due dates.

For the Key Result – SQL to Deal Conversion Rate is 22%, the Initiatives could be:

• Monitor Sales Calls to improve quality • Update objection handling cheat sheet • Identify decision maker training

What are the Projects / Tasks aka Initiatives that you’re planning to do and doing to improve your OKRs?
Control & Agility In Less Than 30 Minutes A Week
Lightweight but effective management systems and processes are needed that stop you ‘setting and forgetting’ the OKRs that are improving your KPIs and will deliver your Mission, Vision and Purpose puts them at risk.

What is needed is regular check-in and team meetings. The inputs and weekly agendas look like this:
Individual Check-ins
Owners of Key Results and Initiatives update Status, Progress, Confidence and comment on the blockers (What’s holding them back) – this should take less that 5 minutes a week
Collaborator / Team Reviews
Collaborators and Team members of the owners of Key Results and Initiatives review the updates and comment on the issues holding their colleague back – this should take less that 5 minutes a week
Team meeting
In a group, the team meets and discusses the ‘at risk’ Key Results and Initiatives and their blockers, any new Initiative Ideas, and any next steps – this should take about 20 minutes a week
The Best Way Of Embedding This In Your Scale-up
ZOKRI has been designed from the ground up to help you work through the steps outlined, measure and track Goals and Initiatives, and embed the systems and processes into culture. Where they are not thought about, they are just how you plan and work.

We also have the people that can guide and facilitate the meetings that help your teams learn skills like goal setting. Whatever you need to embed a Performance Management Blueprint like this, we have it.

What About Culture, Wellbeing & Personal Development?

You’re right. When you’re a start-up the culture is defined and lived by founders and everyone gets to see it and live it as well. As you scale then it is harder to learn and monitor. Don’t worry, we’ve a solution for that.


Wellbeing is also critical. If you’re going to be a talent fuelled people business then looking after the wellbeing of employees is critical. We have a unique wellbeing monitor solution inside ZOKRI to help here as well.


And finally, Personal Development. Talent needs to be developed, and if you’re not you might lose it. So Quarterly PDPs are much better than annual appraisals. Which again are covered in a better way than what’s out there right now.


Want to know more about how ZOKRI can work for you? Book a meeting now.