White Paper

How Startups Can Scale Up Without Getting Bogged Down

As small businesses mature, they must avoid the pitfalls that hamper many larger companies.
  • by Teague Goddard
  • Startup ecosystem strategist at CDW | May 07, 2019

Startup businesses scratch and claw their way to gain a toehold in the marketplace. In an environment where 90 percent of startups fail, keeping the lights on can be a major accomplishment. But it can’t be their only accomplishment. 

As startups gain traction, their challenges are far from over. They must continue to keep up with customer demands while also exploring new markets and products. Many former startups look to make acquisitions to maintain a competitive edge as they grow; as they do so, they may face new challenges around technology integrations. 

Supporting the technology infrastructure of a maturing company requires a delicate balance. On one hand, company leaders will want to leverage their new size and strength, along with existing investments and relationships, to overpower smaller competitors. But on the other, they will also want to maintain something of the startup mindset that got them to where they are. And they’ll want to avoid falling into the traps that ensnare so many large, established companies: complacency, bureaucracy and a bias in favor of “the way things are done around here” rather than an openness to new possibilities. 

In particular, maturing companies should pay careful attention to several key technology areas.


The rank of the United States on the 2018 Global Entrepreneurship Index, an annual measure of the health of the entrepreneurship ecosystems in 137 countries

Source: Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute, November 2017

Growing Security Challenges

As companies establish a significant customer base and begin to bring in more revenue, they face more attention from cybercriminals. Additionally, the consequences of a cyberattack that either leaks or locks down proprietary or sensitive data grow more serious as a company grows larger. Security must continue to be a top concern, with companies continually implementing the best tools and processes and responding to changing conditions. 

Maintaining an effective security posture is a function of both investing in appropriate solutions and assessing a technology environment to look for potential weak points. 

Companies should consider making investments in the following areas to help shore up security: 

  • Automated cloud and endpoint backup  
  • Disaster Recovery as a Service
  • Software and asset management visibility
  • End-user behavior analytics
  • Software-defined WAN
  • Identity and access management

To determine the effectiveness of cybersecurity solutions, firms should also consider bringing in trusted external partners that offer the following assessment services:

  • Application and code security testing
  • Compliance auditing services
  • Security policy/process assessments
  • Proactive threat monitoring and incident response

Maintaining a Consistent Customer and User Experience

As companies mature, more layers of management tend to sprout up between frontline employees and executives, making it more challenging for leaders to keep their fingers on the pulse of what their workforces need to thrive. And as companies begin to deliver a wider array of services to customers, it becomes more challenging to ensure a consistently high-quality experience. To maintain a consistent experience for customers and end users, maturing companies must be able to react in real time to spikes in demand and deliver services via multiple channels.

A number of tools and services can be implemented to maintain a quality end-user experience. These will vary according to a company’s needs and existing investments, but may include application integrations, data migrations, machine learning, serverless computing, hybrid cloud and data analytics. Depending on the industry, companies may also experiment with new ways of engaging and interacting with customers, including Contact Center as a Service, mobile applications, beacons and Internet of Things sensors and applications. 

Strategic Transformation

One of the most ubiquitous terms in the IT world in recent years has been “digital transformation,” which refers to the integration of digital technology into virtually all areas of a company in an effort to fundamentally change business operations. Largely, the phrase is used in reference to older companies’ need to change longstanding practices, modernize technology systems and embrace new processes and workflows. But as startups mature, they also will need to regularly update their technology infrastructure and leave behind inefficient ways of doing things. 

As part of strategic transformation efforts, maturing companies will want to find ways to optimize cloud and other tech spending, create agile infrastructure and systems that accelerate results, increase automation, and reduce inefficiencies that slow down business. The fresh eyes of an external partner can help businesses to see areas for improvement. 

To learn more about how technology can support growing startups, read the CDW white paper “Overcoming the Technology Challenges of Startup Businesses.”