What

Common ‘growing pains’ experienced by scale-up companies
Phase Number of Employees  Key challenges
Finding product-market fit  10 to 50
  • As companies expand their employees from 10 to 50, it becomes harder for everyone to be a generalist and necessary to recruit people from other companies or from universities.
  • Leaders struggle with moving from ‘knowing everyone’ to having a limited number of people reporting to them.
Product-market fit  50 to 100
  • As companies grow rapidly from 50 to 100 employees, they typically need to introduce formal processes and staff with managerial and administrative experience in implementing these. This can bring about a ‘culture clash’ with ‘veteran’ employees who have been used to more informal modes of working, and it can be uncomfortable for many who are unaccustomed to so much change.
  • Companies will often have to re-locate premises at least once during this phase. New systems will have to be adopted and the company will have to learn to train people as it takes on greater numbers.
Product and geographic extension  100 to 500
  • This phase often requires numerous changes of premises and locations to meet the requirements for new domestic and international markets. It can be unsettling for employees more accustomed to a stable business.
  • The company will need to introduce new systems and experienced leaders who have worked in larger companies. Employees and advisors who have worked in a scale-up during this growth stage know what to do. For everyone else, this can be particularly difficult.
Product and geographic extension  500 to 2000
  • This phase often involves relocating several times and increased specialisation across geographies and product lines. Once a company has ‘product-market fit’, it needs to do one or both of these to get to the scale achieved in other countries.
  • This is why helping companies with trade missions is so critical.

Source: The scale-up report on UK economic growth by Sherry Coutu CBE