9 Tips for Running a ‘Tween’ Company

    Entrepreneurs and leadership teams have challenges and obstacles that are unique to each phase of a business lifecycle. As an entrepreneur and/or key leader in a startup or growth company, you have to be flexible in your thinking and adapt your strategy as you progress the business. As a company grows, different strategies and approaches are required; for example, moving from initial market penetration to what is required to achieve growth or retain market share.

    Sumo Logic CEO Ramin Sayar has his own unique view on the stage that comes after the initial startup phase,

    “This is a strange, yet exciting stage of a business lifecycle — I call it the ‘tween’ stage. We don’t have the carefree attitude of a startup or the secure feelings of a more mature, late stage company ready for IPO (a teenager) — we are in the middle and have our own challenges and opportunities as a company in this stage.”

    In this slideshow, Ramin and two other CEOs, Charles Ramsey of Sauce Labs, and Art Landro of Sencha, share their views and tips with other entrepreneurs and companies falling within this “in between” stage in the business lifecycle.

    9 Tips for Running a 'Tween' Company - slide 1

    Entrepreneurial Advice: Beyond the Startup

    Click through for advice and tips entrepreneurs and companies can  use when they’re no longer considered startups but are not ready for an IPO, as identified by Ramin Sayer, CEO of Sumo Logic; Charles Ramsey, CEO of Sauce Labs; and Art Landro, CEO of Sencha.

    9 Tips for Running a 'Tween' Company - slide 2

    Telemetry-ize Everything

    Instrumentation becomes key for any company looking to build sustainable scale. Evolve to a data-driven organization from top to bottom and ensure that there are clear objectives and key results that are just beyond reach. It is critical to constantly measure every aspect of the business, so you know where and how to invest to take the business to the next level.  
    — Ramin Sayar, CEO of Sumo Logic

    9 Tips for Running a 'Tween' Company - slide 3

    Scribe and Subscribe

    Scale requires clarity and alignment. The first step is to write down who you serve, why you are relevant, and the core values and culture that will make or break your organization’s success. Then, engage broadly and deeply with the organization for belief in a common purpose and the journey ahead, making clear what is expected of them and how to operate as one team.
    — Ramin Sayar, CEO of Sumo Logic

    9 Tips for Running a 'Tween' Company - slide 4

    Mind the Gap of the Talent Trap

    High-growth organizations are constantly changing. The challenges of getting to $10 million in revenue with several hundred customers are very different at 10X. Leadership must constantly navigate the gap between what is required to get to the next level and the talent they have on hand. Ultimately, you need to know when to develop existing talent or trade up and find new people.
    — Ramin Sayar, CEO of Sumo Logic

    9 Tips for Running a 'Tween' Company - slide 5

    Be Open to Change

    The tween stage introduces opportunity disguised as the difficult, ungainly first steps toward maturity. Every stage of an organization has its potential pitfalls, but this is one of the most complex stages as the team needs to change in lock step with the evolving expectations of the customer.
    — Charles Ramsey, CEO of Sauce Labs

    9 Tips for Running a 'Tween' Company - slide 6

    Be Sensitive to Team Changes

    In many instances, the founders at some organizations are no longer with the company. There has been a shift from reckless enthusiasm to the realization that there is product market fit, and that it needs to be protected, nurtured and grown at an accelerated pace. Team changes are often disruptive and can create the wrong kind of environment if not managed carefully.
    —Charles Ramsey, CEO of Sauce Labs

    9 Tips for Running a 'Tween' Company - slide 7

    Focus on the Customer

    It is the customer and their changing needs and expectations that must be the focal point of the ‘tween’ company. Previously, it was all about a heads-down focus on product. Once a product is established, a new set of disciplines that may not have existed in the company before suddenly becomes critical. The ability to separate the noise from what the customer really needs is what enables a ‘tween’ company to survive and flourish in what can be a very memorable and fun time in a company’s history.
    — Charles Ramsey, CEO of Sauce Labs

    9 Tips for Running a 'Tween' Company - slide 8

    Know Your ‘Super Power’ and Never Lose It… to Anyone

    If you have made it to the ‘tween’ stage of the company lifecycle, there is a good chance you were able to differentiate your “super power” – the one feature or function that either no one else has, or you do far better than anyone else. Keep the engineering team focused on it, the marketing team on message about it, and the sales team constantly highlighting it.
    — Art Landro, CEO of Sencha

    9 Tips for Running a 'Tween' Company - slide 9

    Always Keep Improving the Culture

    Every company has a culture and, as a company grows up and takes on the awesome responsibility of more customers, partners and employees, the original culture needs to grow up along with that process. Let me tell you, culture is hard to change – especially if you don’t differentiate between the good culture and the bad culture, because there are both. When you hear comments like ‘we have always done it that way’ or ‘great idea, but you won’t convince the bosses,’ this might indicate bad culture and you should take steps to isolate it through new processes, peer-supplied alternatives or prioritization changes. Faster than you think, the bad culture will begin to recede.
    — Art Landro, CEO of Sencha

    9 Tips for Running a 'Tween' Company - slide 10

    Be Inclusive, Open and Transparent in Developing Your Strategic Plans

    As companies grow bigger, it becomes difficult to include everyone like you did as a startup, but it’s still critical to be inclusive across all departments. Business is a team sport – especially in software. While you will not get 100 percent agreement, everyone will feel they were part of the process and will back the team plan. Lastly, be open and transparent about the desired company outcome: an IPO, positioning for a strategic event, or long-term independence through profitability – and what’s in it for them!
    — Art Landro, CEO of Sencha

    Get the Free Newsletter!

    Subscribe to Daily Tech Insider for top news, trends, and analysis.

    Latest Articles