Level Up Your Business by Embracing the Power of Two

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New startups or project teams typically launch with just one of everything – one location, one small team, one type of client, one server. Making the decision to scale up to two (or more) can be the most difficult and painful stage of your business growth. That’s because there’s usually a steep learning curve, and it might require a big investment and risk.

Yet, once you get past that hurdle, leveling up from there is usually a bit less complicated. It’s what I like to refer to as the “power of two.” From the context of a software development company, two (or more) is better than one – two developers collaborating together, two servers to keep your web application running smoothly, or using the same resources to serve two or more clients in a particular vertical.

Here’s a closer look at the power of two in action:

Pairing your programmers

A small company may start off with one programmer, and adding another engineer to the staff can be a little complicated. You have to figure out sharing responsibilities and review each other’s code and work. But you’re also starting to put some disciplines and processes in place that you can hopefully expand upon as you add more and more members to the team moving forward.

Toward that end, many technology companies actually use what’s called pair programming, in which two developers work collaboratively on a single task, even sharing a computer. One programmer serves as the “driver,” who writes the code, while the other is the “navigator,” reviewing each line in real-time as it is typed in and offering feedback on the spot. While some companies might balk at this idea because of a sense that they’re paying twice for the same work, in fact, this approach greatly expands the possibilities of what can be accomplished at that single workstation, and reduces the risk of bugs. This approach keeps teams fully engaged, and gives each programmer the opportunity to use their past experiences and ideas to help their partner—resulting in more creative output and better code.

Even if you don’t take a full paired programmer approach, you can apply the “power of two” in another way, through ensuring a code review process for all projects: One programmer writes the code, the other reviews it and checks for errors when complete. This process isn’t quite as collaborative, but still provides a great opportunity to bring two minds to the challenges of building a new digital product. It helps transfer knowledge from one programmer to the other, makes it easy to catch mistakes and ensure that you’re within project scope, and helps to foster strong working relationships.

Technology infrastructure

Another place where the “power of two” can come into play is in regards to your technology investments.

When you add a second server, for instance, it can be tricky because now you’re scaling horizontally rather than vertically. Vertically means you just keep getting a better and better server to deal with issues that arise, whereas with a second server, you need to invest in setup and configuration of multiple machines.

It can actually be more cost-effective to have two mid-sized servers versus one large one. For one thing, it helps you balance the load when you have traffic spikes and avoid the slow downs or crashes that sites with single servers sometimes experience. Having multiple servers also means less downtime, such as if you need to perform site maintenance or backups. Adding another server can be complex, but it pays off dividends in the future because it makes it easier to scale. It gets even more complicated when one talks about distributed data storage/sharding, but that is a topic for another day.

Market expansion into new verticals and locations

The same idea applies when you think about a service business with a growing client list. Expanding into a new vertical can be a difficult process—you don’t have the proof of concept to show that you understand a prospect’s industry, and you may not know how to market effectively to the segment, or understand what their pain points are. But as we’ve found at our product development agency, getting that first client in a particular industry is the hardest part—once you’ve taken the time to clearly understand what they need and how to support them, and built a clear buyer persona for the buyer you’re appealing to, you’ll be able to easily expand to new clients within that vertical, whether it’s healthcare or retail.

After you know how to market to a specific vertical and what it needs, it’s simply a matter of scaling your resources to support the growing market segment, and you’ll already have a team with the experience to support a new client at that point. One client in a new field is tough, but getting to two is much simpler.

In business, every new initiative starts with a leap of faith—you don’t always have the foresight to know that you’re making the right choices, and you need to forge your path as you go. But by taking the step of quickly leveling up from one to two, you’ll be able to make the most of the knowledge you’ve obtained to help your business build strong processes and quickly scale—and from there, it’ll be a seamless process to continue your growth.

Sumit Chachra
Sumit Chachra is CEO of Tivix, a leading digital innovation consultancy that works with Fortune 1000 brands.

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