10 Things I've Learned Since the Acquisition

Key lessons and experience since I acquired Full Scale

What is it like to buy a company or buy out a business partner?

It's been an exciting and intense 90 days since I bought out my business partner and took over as CEO at Full Scale. The roots of the company go back to 2018 when I needed to hire 10 software developers for my SaaS company, Stackify. My friend and co-founder Matt DeCoursey had experience with developers in the Philippines and convinced me it was a great place to affordably hire quality talent.

What started as an initiative to support our own ventures quickly grew into an independent business as word spread and demand increased from other companies needing development help. Within the first year, we hired around 100 employees, and the "accidental" startup took on a life of its own. Over the next 5 years, Matt DeCoursey ran the day-to-day while I stayed involved as a co-founder and customer through Stackify.

Fast forward to late 2023 - we had reached a juncture where Matt was interested in exiting while I saw tremendous potential and wanted to take on a more active leadership role. In December, we reached an agreement for me to buy out Matt's share and step in as CEO.

It's been a time of transition, learning, and growth since taking the reins. Here are some of the key lessons and takeaways from this experience so far:

  1. Stepping into new leadership shoes takes adjustment. Going from being a co-founder and customer of Full Scale to being the sole CEO of a 300-person company overnight was a major change. I had to quickly switch mindsets and step fully into this new leadership role. It took some getting used to being the ultimate decision-maker and face of the company.

  2. Building relationships with the team is critical. With most of our employees based in the Philippines, it was important for me to connect with them and build trust as the new leader, especially given my previous outsider status. I focused on understanding their needs, communicating the vision, and investing in rapport. The response has been positive and I look forward to deepening those relationships.

  3. Balancing patience with a bias toward action. As an entrepreneur, I tend to want everything done immediately. I had to calibrate my expectations and timelines to avoid burning myself and the team out while still moving key initiatives forward around sales, marketing, career growth, and more. We made great progress on many fronts in the first 90 days, even if not everything advanced as much as I wanted. I'm learning to balance my eagerness with a more sustainable pace.

  4. You can't avoid inheriting some challenges. When you take over an existing business, you inevitably inherit some "messes" - decisions, processes, or employees that don't make sense to you. I had to unpack the history of how some things evolved and couldn't be too quick to undo them. For example, navigating labor laws and employee relationships requires care.

  5. Growth solves many problems. My main focus has been on continuing to grow the business in a healthy way. Adding a strong Head of Sales was a great move that helped accelerate our growth. As long as we keep expanding our client base and revenue, it gives us more flexibility to gradually improve other areas vs. having to make drastic changes.

  6. Zooming out is as important as zooming in. It's easy to get caught up reacting to the day-to-day fires and lose sight of the big picture. I've had to consciously carve out thinking time to work on the business, not just in it. What's our 1-year and 3-year vision? What are the main needles we need to move? What strategic investments do we need to make? Keeping one eye on the horizon is critical.

  7. Leverage expert help to go farther faster. Trying to figure out everything myself is a recipe for suboptimal results and slowness. I realized that to take marketing to the next level, we needed to bring in outside experts to help guide the way, just as hiring our new Head of Sales accelerated growth. Engaging a marketing agency has been incredibly beneficial to make more progress on that front.

  8. Celebrate the gains, not just the gaps. Like many entrepreneurs, I have a tendency to fixate on how far we still have to go vs. how far we've come. I'm practicing appreciating and acknowledging the significant gains and wins along the way - the team we've built, the growth we've achieved, the happy customers we serve. Noting the progress fuels the energy and confidence to keep stretching for the next level.

  9. Talent upgrades are sometimes needed to reach the next level. Building the team that will take us to $50M and beyond requires hard decisions along the way. Not everyone who got us to this point will be the best fit to get us to the next stage. We've had to make some tough calls to upgrade roles to reach the next level.

  10. The journey is the reward. While I celebrated the accomplishment of acquiring the business, the real juice is in the daily joys and struggles of building something meaningful. The sale was not the end of the story but the beginning of an exciting new chapter. As long as we're making progress, having fun, and helping our customers succeed, the journey itself is worthwhile.

In summary, the first 90 days post-acquisition has been a whirlwind of learning, challenges, wins, and growth. I'm incredibly energized by the progress we've made and the opportunities ahead to take Full Scale to the next level. At the same time, I'm practicing pacing myself for the marathon ahead.

We've got a clear vision, a strong team, and a big market to continue serving. Full Scale provides dedicated software development teams and staff augmentation services to help companies scale up affordably and quickly.

I wake up every day excited to keep building for our company and our customers.

I hope what I learned over the last 90 days was interesting!


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