We love working with scale-ups: companies that have grown rapidly over a number of years and who are now looking at taking the next step in their journey. That next phase is exciting and nerve-wracking in equal measure. It often means opening your company up to increased scrutiny. It means taking bigger risks. It also represents a rite of passage and it is a sign that what you have built works.
We thought we would share some of the lessons we have learned from working with scale-ups. Some top tips for scale-ups if you will.
We hope that it inspires you to take the next stage in your journey.
when is it time to ‘scale up’?
All scale-ups have one thing in common: they have reached the point in their journey when it is time to decide whether or not to scale-up. You have probably spent the last few years pouring all of your time and energy into experimenting, innovating, and making your business a success. You have experienced fast growth and you have a model that works.
Now, it is time to make some big business decisions.
Maybe you’ll acquire another business, spend big on new office space or invest in taking your products to new territories. All of these decisions require financing, and that leads to even bigger decisions about the best way to fund growth. Do you bring onboard another investor? Do you take out a loan? Is there another way that you haven’t even heard of?
we’ve all cut corners.
Even if corners weren’t cut, you probably only focused on the documents you needed at the time, not those that you needed in three years’ time.
This probably wasn’t an issue when you took those decisions, but more often than not scaling up requires a much higher degree of transparency, reporting, and disclosure. When this day comes, you’ll need all of your ducks in a row. It might just make the difference between getting the investment you need or not.
scale-up tip 1.
Our first tip for companies who are on the fast track is to make sure that you know where you have cut corners and to put processes in place early to make sure that when you have made the big decisions, your growth isn’t held back as a result. These processes should enable your legal documents to grow with you. Have markers when the “good enough” needs to change to “better than good enough”. Be honest with yourself.
engage early on.
All companies start with a belief and a passion for their idea. They also all start with a dream that their idea will take off and succeed. This belief and passion drive business owners forward. The dream gets them out of bed in the morning. Despite this, very few business owners sit down and think about what the future might look like from a legal perspective. It’s hardly surprising though is it?
“Having a chat with my lawyer” has become about as welcome as a trip to the dentist for a root-canal procedure (painful and expensive). However, this reluctance to engage early on can lead to problems. Much like the toothache that is left to fester, so too, that legal niggle that is left to one side, can lead to even more expensive and painful unpicking down the road.
scale-up tip 2.
Our second tip is to find a lawyer you can speak to. Yes, some of those really do exist. Grow with them.
At Lawbox, we will try and drill down (no pun intended) into exactly what it is you’re trying to achieve, where you’re going over the next few years and what your disclosure requirements will be. You may need anything from help gaining authority from a regulator to a full suite of redesigned policies. Either way, we’ve done it before, and we know when good enough is enough, or when you need to step things up. By having a roadmap in place, you can make changes over time, saving money and legal headaches down the track.
scale-up tip 3.
Make legal fun…Ok, so we sound like the maths geek trying to sell a game of spot the prime number but stick with us!
Making legal fun has many great benefits. By making your contracts pleasant to look at and simple to understand, and by focussing on the end user’s needs, you give your customers the feeling that you have engaged with the process and really care about them.
Better still, you’ll be able to understand your agreements with complete clarity, giving you a valuable advantage over your competitors. You’ll know what you are talking about long before you refer your customer to your contracts, saving your customers and your team time that could be spent adding value elsewhere.
we’ll change law from a “need” to a “want”.
If you are at this sensitive stage in your business’s growth, come and speak to us. We’re pretty sure that once you’ve seen how much we can help you, working with lawyers will turn from something you need to something that you want.