Everyone is a Leader: How to Manage Hypergrowth

If your startup grows faster than you expected, it can be a good problem to have.

But not if you don’t know how to deal with it.

I had the pleasure of speaking to Amy Foo on my podcast recently.

Amy is the Managing director of Zendesk for Australia and New Zealand, and is steering the growing tech company towards the $1 billion mark.

In the last quarter of calendar year 2018 under Amy’s guidance, Zendesk’s revenue rose by more than 40 percent on the year prior to US$172.2 million. 

Amy told me the importance of staff when it comes to managing hypergrowth:

“Everyone needs to chip in, and that is a good team. You have functional leaders in the general admin and they are the backbone of the company. You have HR, your finance, and your recruiting. And then you have the important ones like the go-to-market team that are the front liners for the brand… So it all comes together as a team. You need everyone to play their part and most importantly be accountable for the goals that we set as a company to drive the growth that we need to drive. So I would say everybody is a leader when it comes to a hypergrowth company. And most importantly we need everyone to feel like they’re part of the game, and they bring their A-game, and they’re accountable to the growth.

Getting your finances right for entrepreneurial success

As the current VP of Finance and Operations at Zendesk APAC too, Amy says she wasn’t hired immediately because Zendesk thought she was too experienced for the role.

But as they learned, it was a critical hire. Amy says startup founders need to realise the same thing:

“My first (piece of) advice to startups and founders — if you have that one headcount that you need to put into your finance field, hire your best (financial) adviser. It will bring you miles that you would never imagine, and it will open doors and opportunities for potential — and it will help you sleep at night knowing that your finances are under control!”

Amy says startup founders need to take their finances seriously:

“It’s almost like some folks view finance as a band-aid, and they want to close these short-term goals in that area rather than the long-term goals. If a founder is visionary, I would actually challenge them to think about the vision and how you’re going to execute that vision. You need business partners behind the scenes that are able to strategise and bring that plan to life. If you are only hiring a debit and credit person, it will be hard because that will be a short term band-aid solution. Eventually, if you hire a good one, the debits and credits will get solved.”

Does this change your perspective on hypergrowth and how you run your startup?


For my full interview with Amy Foo, take a listen via this link.

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