It’s the eternal entrepreneurial conundrum. That drive and insane attention to detail that helped you build your company into a successful business can sink once it reaches a certain size and momentum.
In your early days, you and a small team handled the engineering, sales, marketing, payroll, office administration and maybe even the housekeeping. To grow beyond the start up phase, you have to turn responsibilities over to others (and then trust them to get things done).
So, how do you build a culture and a team that scales into a bigger, more mature organization? The answer sounds simple, but can be extraordinarily tough to put into action. You must learn to relinquish control and let others shoulder the responsibility.
Think of it like this: once you were the quarterback. Now you need to be the team’s coach (and gradually then evolve into the General Manager). You need a broader view so you can guide and support the team to victory, rather than simply play on the field yourself.
Steps to Take
The Kauffman Foundation recommends CEOs take these steps to grow a team that can scale the company.
- Find mentors. Look to people outside your company for ideas and inspiration. If you’re having an issue with sales, bounce ideas off someone whose company you respect and who seems to have a handle on your problem. Take them to lunch and ask for their input.
- Pay attention to experts in their field. You can gather great ideas by observing people you admire and incorporating their behavior into your own. Become a student of how another leader motivates groups of employees or gives a speech.
- Consider hiring a coach. Athletes hire specialists who help them improve their techniques, and business leaders should be no different. For your company to grow, you’ll need to hone new skills, from people management techniques to advanced financial mechanisms. A coach can provide objective feedback about ways your limitations may be impacting your company’s growth (The Vistage Group is a good place to find great coaching).
- Look inside the company. Your current team may include professionals capable of taking on more responsibility. Consider whether it’s time to transition some decision-making power to these employees.
- Look outside the company. Get comfortable with the idea that your original team may not have all the skills needed to scale the company larger. Take Facebook as an example. Mark Zuckerberg founded his company in his dorm room and eventually hired Cheryl Sandberg as his COO to scale the company. Without an experienced right-hand woman, how likely is it that Facebook would be the online juggernaut it is today? Marshall Goldsmith’s book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, has some good tips on this as well.
- Know yourself. Some entrepreneurs love the early chaos (and the adrenalin rush) of a company’s early stages and aren’t much interested in developing a mature company. Others prefer to grow a company out of the chaos. Knowing what stage of company growth you prefer can tell you whether to sell and start another company or stay and grow with the company.
- And think about the end game. You are building a legacy in your business, one that is not only financial but impacts your employees, clients, and community. What legacy do you want to leave behind? Eventually you will need to transition the business to new ownership. Building a team will ensure that you can maximize its value and help you find a buyer that will effectively grow your legacy.
The End Goal
Building a team that can help you scale your company is hard work. It will require your best efforts in leading and learning because you’ll have to transition from the person who does it all to the person who’s leading the symphony. But once you and your team reach the goals you’ve set for the company, it will be worth it.
By Jessica Johns Pool.
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