Build To Scale

Build To Scale offers insights and strategies for scaling B2B software companies, drawing from experience in enhancing companies worth $20b. It addresses key aspects such as leadership, board management, setting objectives, product-market fit, building a strong team and culture, navigating financial challenges, and fostering innovation and collaboration.

Leadership and Management Board Management and Governance Strategic Planning Product-Market Fit Team Building and Culture Feedback and Communication Financial Management Innovation and Disruption Customer Engagement Pricing Strategies Performance Management Organizational Development

The hottest Substack posts of Build To Scale

And their main takeaways
118 implied HN points β€’ 20 Nov 23
  1. The board's primary role is to ensure proper governance, not run the organization. Their responsibility includes hiring and firing the CEO.
  2. For startups, having a balanced board with diverse views is crucial. Consider adding independent board members with operational experience.
  3. Operational issues and management conflicts should be addressed before they escalate to the board level. Keep the board updated and maintain high trust.
138 implied HN points β€’ 31 Aug 23
  1. Positioning your product correctly is crucial from the start, you can't retroactively adjust it like changing a boat into a car.
  2. Identify your target market, the problem your product solves, and what makes you better than competitors.
  3. Use a simple positioning template to describe your product's key attributes clearly and guide your marketing efforts.
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19 implied HN points β€’ 30 Jan 24
  1. When pricing software, focus on value over cost. It's vital to find the right balance and not undervalue your product.
  2. Adapt pricing based on customer segments. Small businesses and larger enterprises have different budgets and needs, so consider offering various editions or plans.
  3. Avoid commodity pricing and aim for a pricing model customers can easily understand. Make sure pricing generates positive margins and evolves with your company.
59 implied HN points β€’ 09 Nov 23
  1. Successful companies can usher in new technology waves that disrupt industries.
  2. Disruptive innovation targets new audiences with different needs, not just incremental improvements.
  3. To succeed with disruption, tap into new markets, play by different rules, and understand the power of open source models.
98 implied HN points β€’ 05 Sep 23
  1. Setting clear and achievable objectives is crucial for organizational success. Avoid overly ambitious goals that may lead to dysfunctionality.
  2. Use a straightforward approach like SMART goals for setting objectives. Regular follow-ups help assess progress and address obstacles.
  3. Promote collaboration and alignment among departments in goal-setting. Encourage transparency, accountability, and coordination across the organization.
59 implied HN points β€’ 03 Oct 23
  1. An effective offsite meeting should have a clear purpose, such as planning for strategic changes, setting priorities, or working on challenging problems creatively.
  2. Include the next-level up-and-coming leaders in executive offsite meetings to have a broader impact and develop managerial talent.
  3. To tackle hard problems, gather a diverse group of people from different areas within the company to brainstorm solutions, as fresh perspectives can lead to creative breakthroughs.
59 implied HN points β€’ 26 Sep 23
  1. Talk to customers and employees, but don't bother listening. Just talk about your vision and plans without engaging in meaningful conversations.
  2. Don't shy away from bad news and blame it on employees. Overreact publicly, especially to junior staff, to discourage them from sharing any negative news.
  3. Focus on competitors, raise money, surround yourself with yes-men, disregard customer needs, and prioritize optics over actual performance if you want to lose touch with your business and alienate people.
39 implied HN points β€’ 17 Oct 23
  1. Annual planning is crucial but understand that it's a flexible roadmap, not a rigid rulebook for the year ahead
  2. Using SWOT analysis can help identify internal strengths, weaknesses, and external opportunities, threats to guide strategic initiatives
  3. Evaluate your team's readiness to scale, recognize their strengths, weaknesses, and consider bringing in new talent as needed
19 implied HN points β€’ 14 Dec 23
  1. Professional services can be a significant revenue enabler and differentiator for enterprise software companies.
  2. Implementing a 'Concierge' offering can help address customer challenges and lead to larger subscription deals.
  3. Offering hands-on assistance during implementation and troubleshooting can increase customer satisfaction and improve product-market fit.
59 implied HN points β€’ 15 Aug 23
  1. Executives, especially founders and CEOs, need to prioritize listening to customers over talking to ensure they understand market needs and priorities.
  2. Encouraging a culture of customer-centricity within a company can lead to product success and advantages in the marketplace.
  3. Listening to customers can help reorient engineering efforts towards solving the problems that truly matter to customers, preventing product failures.
19 implied HN points β€’ 30 Nov 23
  1. Building a strong relationship with your board is crucial and requires trust and honesty.
  2. As a CEO, it's important to have a plan when facing problems to share with the board for input and guidance.
  3. Consider adding independent board members with different skills and experiences to help with strategic decisions and scaling the company.
39 implied HN points β€’ 19 Aug 23
  1. Being honest about product-market fit is crucial for startups. Make sure people care about what you're building.
  2. Spend time understanding customer pain points early on. Don't assume you know what they need before talking to them.
  3. Listen actively to customers, uncover their real problems, and focus on solutions that address their urgent needs.
19 implied HN points β€’ 15 Sep 23
  1. Focus on a small set of key metrics at the executive level to avoid conflicting views and promote progress.
  2. Be cautious of over-analyzing data and creating a culture where analysis overshadows taking necessary actions.
  3. For startups, while revenue predictability is important, it's natural to experience volatility, especially in early stages.
19 implied HN points β€’ 12 Sep 23
  1. When hiring senior executives, probe to understand their past actions and problem-solving approaches to gauge their potential fit with your company.
  2. Beware of big company executives transitioning to startups, as they might struggle with the hands-on, rapid decision-making environment and bring in unnecessary processes.
  3. Always personally check the references of potential executives to get genuine insights on their work ethics and impact.
19 implied HN points β€’ 21 Aug 23
  1. Quickly addressing poor performance is crucial for building a strong performance culture in a company.
  2. Identifying and managing poor performers is essential, especially in fast-growing organizations to maintain a high-performance environment.
  3. Giving clear feedback, setting expectations, and making decisions about poor performers promptly can lead to increased productivity and a stronger team.
0 implied HN points β€’ 10 Oct 23
  1. Implementing a Product Council can improve visibility, predictability, and provide a standardized process to address common scaling challenges in companies.
  2. The Product Council involves key leaders from different business functions working together to review and approve development plans, ensuring alignment and awareness across departments.
  3. Regular Product Council meetings help drive alignment, reveal problems early, and increase collaboration between Product and Engineering teams, ultimately making the development process more predictable and effective.
0 implied HN points β€’ 24 Oct 23
  1. When setting an annual budget, use a top-down approach for better efficiency and success in funding key initiatives.
  2. Departments need to create their own annual plans that align with overall company goals to ensure success and mitigate risks.
  3. As the business evolves, flexibility is key in budget management, with regular check-ins to adjust spending and headcount based on actual performance.
0 implied HN points β€’ 15 Nov 23
  1. Focus on use cases and customers that are below the incumbent's radar to succeed as a disruptor.
  2. Being different is more important than being better: find a way to serve the underserved market.
  3. Avoid direct competition with larger incumbents, stay true to your disruptive model, and target customers who understand and value the disruptive approach.
0 implied HN points β€’ 20 Dec 23
  1. Zack Urlocker is taking a break from his newsletter Build To Scale to focus on other projects, but promises more topics in 2024.
  2. The articles "The Power of Disruption," "Listen More," and "What Went Wrong with the OpenAI Board" provide important insights on technology, communication, and executive roles.
  3. Zack plans to compile his articles into a book for release in the second half of 2024, catering to founders, managers, and executives.
0 implied HN points β€’ 08 Sep 23
  1. Developing a strong middle management layer is crucial for scaling a company. They have a significant impact on work and culture, even more so than the executive team.
  2. Push decision-making down the organization, close to the action. Empower front-line managers to make decisions based on shared values, fostering a culture of trust and responsibility.
  3. Executive role is to add value by creating a high-performance culture. Empowering managers to make decisions and grow in confidence is key. Trusting managers to make informed decisions enhances problem-solving and communication skills.
0 implied HN points β€’ 18 Aug 23
  1. Trying to please everyone in business can undermine your effectiveness as a leader.
  2. Making strategic decisions often requires being decisive and not getting caught up in trying to find compromises that may lead to worse outcomes.
  3. Executives should focus on making timely decisions with the best interest of the company in mind to earn respect and move the organization forward efficiently.
0 implied HN points β€’ 18 Aug 23
  1. Identifying patterns among customers is crucial for building and scaling a startup. This skill is valuable for optimizing sales and marketing strategies.
  2. Understanding qualitative aspects of customer situations can lead to better targeting and product optimization. It's essential to focus on specific customer segments and use cases rather than aiming for broad generalizations.
  3. Talking to customers and salespeople is key to uncovering valuable patterns. Customer visits and sales insights can help identify buying trends and inform marketing strategies.
0 implied HN points β€’ 28 Aug 23
  1. A brand is the promise a company makes combined with the customer experience. It's crucial to focus on delivering quality products and services that align with this promise.
  2. The success of a brand is not just about logos or taglines but about creating products customers can't live without. Constant innovation and differentiation are key.
  3. Maintaining a strong brand requires consistently delivering on the promise and continuously improving products to meet customer needs.
0 implied HN points β€’ 21 Sep 23
  1. If you've missed your targets significantly for two quarters and haven't adjusted costs, it's likely time to consider layoffs to prevent worsening financial situations.
  2. When doing layoffs, it's better to make deeper cuts of at least 15% rather than small reductions to significantly impact the company trajectory.
  3. Focus on top initiatives during layoffs by identifying key projects to prioritize, being clear about what will be stopped, and re-aligning the organization for critical goals.