Startups vs. Scaling Companies

When you’re starting to scale, it becomes all about execution, which is a very different way from the way a startup is organized. This has major implications moving forward.


If you’re going to talk about scaling, what you have to understand is what a startup is like and what companies graduating from startups should look like. We really like the definition that Steve Blank gives in his recent Kauffman Founders School Series on startups where he said that a startup is a temporary organization, organized to find a repeatable and scalable business model. It encompasses, as we’ve said, not just the founding of the company itself, but the proof of technical viability, and then that iterative process of trying to figure out who your best customers are. The startup process is about brilliance and creating something out of nothing that gives the potential to build a great company. We are searching for business models, not executing business plans. And I like this because it’s so clear and it’s so starkly different from what being a scaling company is all about. When you’re ready to scale, it does become all about execution which is a very different way from the way a startup is organized. This has major implications for how you organize your company, how you manage your team, all of which we’ll come to grips with in the next few chapters.

Suggested Readings

Founders School || Scaling Your Company || Startups vs. Scaling Companies || Impact Guide (PDF).

Jim Deters. “4 Ways to Smoothly Transition from Startup to the Scale-Up Phase.” Article. September 11, 2015.

Kate Mitchell. “Repeatability is a Litmus Test.” The Accelerators. Blog post. June 25, 2013.

Startups – “What We Know About Startups” with Steve Blank.

Startups – “Startups Versus Big Companies” with Steve Blank.

Questions for You

Is my company still looking for product-market fit?

Does my business have a set customer and audience?

Questions for Your Team

Is the company still looking for product-market fit?

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