Canadian Sherry Coutu is something of a legend in UK startup circles.
In 2010 she was voted by TechCrunch as the best CEO mentor/advisor in Europe.
in 2011, she was voted by Wired magazine as one the top 25 ‘most influential people in the wired world’, and one of the top ten most influential investors and women. She was awarded a CBE in 2013 from Her Majesty the Queen for “Services to Entrepreneurship”.
Today at the C100UK’s 48 Hours in London Coutu continued her service to entrepreneurs by kicking off the morning session with a presentation titled Beyond Startup: how to scale your business internationally. Here are Coutu’s nine steps to scaling up:
1) Choose a Big Enough Problem: Look for something big that needs to be solved. There are lots of problems with our world and it is entrepreneurs who make the world a better place, by solving one problem at a time.
2) Embed yourself in the right network: Look for clusters and local ecosystems that can provide support. This is critical because it is easier to find new people when you are scaling up if you are in the right cluster.
3) Recruit people who have done it before: A person who has spent 10 years scaling at one company is 22x more productive than a person that has had five 2-year stints at different companies. You must hire people who have done it before, not your best friend who has not.
4) Hire for Tomorrow, Not For Today: If you want to be a $100 million company in three years’ time, you need to hire people who have been in that position.
5) Embrace Diversity: Not just on gender, but mix types of people. Get people to talk about how they approach things. Don’t get people that are too similar. Find people who are curious.
6) Nurture Company Values: Keep hold of the right attitude as you grow the business. Try to keep in touch with the business and the original value as it grows.
7) Build Systems That Scale: Make sure you don’t have too many different terms and conditions for lots of different customers. This only takes up time and resources and makes it difficult to scale. Try to think of yourself as ten times the size.
8) Test Product/Market Fit. Be obsessed with your customers and find out exactly what they want from you. You have to test your products all the time to see if it works. This means you learn every day about your customer. Don’t ever rest on this.
9) Take the Right Kind of Money… at the Right Time. There are angels, VCs, accelerators and specialist funds. You need to find the best financial backing for your business. It can be a mistake to take VC money too early in the process. Don’t take too much, or too little.