By Nick Bell, CEO of Decision Inc.
Building a great business involves more than just hard work, good networking skills, and a fair degree of luck. Whilst the core of any good business venture is a business that enables you to satisfy a customer’s need in a unique or different way, the challenges that face entrepreneurs in building a truly scalable business can create significant complexity, and potentially requires a different set of skills than those that are needed to create the organisation.
As the business moves through the different phases of growth, the role of the leader in the organisation needs to evolve with the business. The skills that were needed to create a startup are not necessarily the same skills that are needed to build the organisation into a sustainable company with a variety of stakeholders and moving parts.
As a company continues to grow, at each phase of the growth it asks for a different set of skills from the leader. The startup phase is very often about the entrepreneur themselves and the skills that have enabled them to start the company. However as the company grows the entrepreneur may no longer have the same amount of time available to deliver that skill, as they are needed to spend time managing a growing organisation.
As the company takes on new clients and expands there is usually the requirement to hire more people in order to deliver the product or service or provide business support services. The addition of people and the processes that are required to manage these extra resources often puts great strain on the entrepreneur’s ability to run the company, deliver the service or product, innovate and continue focusing on customers.
Success and the need for expansion can often be viewed as a mixed blessing. The associated challenges of growing the business are unlikely to go away. In fact, the complexity and management requirements of the organisation will be expanded exponentially as the company continues its upward trajectory. This evolution contains an inherent challenge to your business that cannot be ignored – remaining focused on innovation while maintaining effective operational management.
The risk is that getting stuck into what is happening on an operational level will deflect your attention from strategic planning. In order to retain your entrepreneurial flair to think strategically while still remaining innovative and agile, it is imperative that you have employees that are empowered to make effective decisions. Your challenge as a leader therefore includes enabling your employees to make sound decisions based on achieving the goals of the organisation.
These decisions need to be aligned to the growth path of the company. For entrepreneurs who are used to doing their own thing this is an especially daunting task. You need to have the confidence in your abilities to appoint people who are capable of being pro-active in a way that is good for the company. To help you achieve this, you need to determine what decisions need to be made within the particular roles inside the organisation. You should ask yourself how those decisions drive performance and whether your staff have both the skills and capabilities to make the decisions that are necessary.
Once the link between performance and capability is understood, you would have to develop clear processes and routes to meeting the overarching organisational goals. Additionally, your teams need to have access to information that the organisation deems important. This, in conjunction with being provided with clear insights into the problems and opportunities that the organisation face, will help align them for better transition to help meet future growth demands.
A vital part of this component is to develop a clear action plan for each individual in the organisation irrespective of whether that person is in finance, marketing, or operations. This will empower staff to understand their roles in helping drive the performance of the organisation. But all of this can mean very little if the executives and other members of staff are not able to effectively gauge their performance and successes. The process of linking people with easily visualised performance measurements is pivotal to gaining an understanding of how the organisation is growing and what needs to be done to address any stumbling blocks.
Ultimately, if you want your organisation to grow you have to remove yourself from the operational management role and rely on your team to perform their duties effectively. They must understand their roles, what they are aiming to achieve, and how their decisions impact the organisation. You need to provide them with the systems that manage performance and monitor goal progress. This insight will help make them, and your business, successful.