You know the importance of planning for rapid growth. After all, it’s a common theme covered in just about all of the literature and lectures about running a startup. Setting aside the time to make those preparations can be challenging, but failure to do so could leave you stuck with some unnecessary bills down the line as your scramble to catch up.
Decisions Made Under Stress Cost You Money
Periods of rapid growth not only put stress on your resources and infrastructure, but on your decision-making abilities as well. A Stanford University study shows that people under cognitive load — that is, with a lot on their mind — make poor decisions as compared to those without such stress. In the study, participants were asked to memorize a number, and then choose between unhealthy cake and healthy fruit. Participants who memorized a seven-digit number chose the unhealthy option 50% more often than those who had only to memorize a one-digit number.
If people struggle to make basic snacking decisions while multitasking, how can you expect to make sound investment decisions for the future of your company with so much on your mind? When your organization starts to triple, or quadruple, in size very quickly, where will your head be? Hopefully, focused on hiring, training, and retaining the best employees and moving forward strategically, rather than hung up on minutiae (like figuring out how many extra software licenses you’ll need to buy for all your new employees).
The best practice for cash management and personnel during rapid growth is to already have a plan in place. The same is true for your IT systems, data storage and infrastructure. Be prepared now with a solution that is cost-effective and ready to scale when you are.
Managing email and data for three employees is relatively straight-forward. Implementing an infrastructure capable of supporting 30- 75 employees — from laptop provisioning, to large data processing and storage, to effective and secure policies on remote access — is an entirely different beast.
If your organization is trying to tackle these issues in the midst of rapid growth, you’re already behind. System downtime is a well-known fear of business owners (with good reason), but less obvious is the opportunity cost of productivity lost when your IT system isn’t set up to maximize your employees’ efficiency. Without the proper support system in place, your new employees can lose valuable time from:
- Delays in getting access to company resources such as email or shared data
- Hardware issues and application errors that aren’t addressed immediately
- Waiting on system resources that are bottlenecked, either from a lack of processing power or because systems are being tasked for too many jobs
Being prepared to support rapid growth doesn’t mean purchasing expensive equipment and hiring IT staff before you’re ready. It does mean taking a little bit of time now to prepare with:
- An audit of existing infrastructure (hardware, software, and SaaS providers) and where the bottlenecks will be ((Are the existing systems and providers capable of supporting expected growth over the next 2 years?)
- Identifying and partnering with vendors who can address the infrastructure gaps quickly and efficiently
- A realistic estimate of how to budget for both CapEx and OpEx costs associated with growth
- Are proper business continuity and disaster recovery plans in place to support growth over time and do they adhere to any compliance regulations the company may be under in the future? Anything else?
Now more than ever it is not just large life science companies that can be targeted by hackers, small biotech companies are being directly targeted too.
The pressure of supporting rapid growth is when most start-ups are at their most vulnerable. Don’t sacrifice deliberate, planned security and infrastructure deployment in favor of a costly mad scramble - especially when the price is your (and your investors) intellectual property, and your business reputation.
The right IT partner will demonstrate industry-leading best practices for data security, as well as a thorough understanding of the specific needs of biotech companies (especially with regard to regulatory compliance).
As we mentioned before, putting your “Success Plan” together doesn’t have to be painful. Download our guide, After the Seed: Planning IT Investment for a Biotech Startup, for more details, and additional insights from our over 16 years of servicing the biotech industry.