This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab
When you start a company, you hope your hard work, passion and skill will create demand, lead you to a profit and the chance to expand.
While this is a primary goal for most entrepreneurs, it can also present a unique set of challenges. The way you manage growth will determine your future success. Be bold, but have a plan and process in place to realize that success.
Here are three keys to effective growth management:
Take a holistic view
At the outset, you likely had a small staff – if any at all – with all planning, from the grand vision to the smallest of details, falling to you. However, now that you are picking up steam, you need to widen your view. Key challenges to businesses in this stage typically include managing cash flow, building a supply chain, and overcoming the challenges of servicing a growing customer base. To get these in order, you must look beyond the day-to-day and seriously consider where you are and, more importantly, where you hope to go. Only then can you wisely allocate resources. Step back and look at the big picture.
Hire smart then delegate, delegate, delegate
You can't do it all and you shouldn't try to. If you can't delegate, you're putting a cap on your ability to grow as a business. As you likely know and have experienced, the founder of any small business wears every imaginable hat, from chief executive officer and chief financial officer to sales associate, account executive, human resources manager, and administrative assistant. While the reins will always remain in your hands, you will eventually need help. That means adding smart, driven people who are aligned to your mission and vision.
Staying too hands-on will hurt your business in the long run; still, it is only natural to feel apprehensive about relinquishing control. Hiring the right people, or outsourcing business-critical tasks, like bookkeeping and accounting services, can entail a significant investment of time and energy, yet it will pay off exponentially. Talent acquisition and retention, or finding the right partner, should be a top priority. My experience has proven time and again, your business will only ever be as good as the talent you hire and inspire. Once these people are in place, embrace delegation.
Invest in a strong corporate culture
In a now-famous letter to his staff, Airbnb co-founder and CEO, Brian Chesky, considered the question, "So how do we build culture?" His answer? Instill it in every single aspect of the company, including operations, communications, and even the simplest interactions. He goes on to write, "The stronger the culture, the less corporate process a company requires. When the culture is strong, you can trust everyone to do the right thing." This is entirely true. Does your company have a set of values that every employee knows – and more importantly – lives?
As you first start to expand, whatever culture you have established – or hope to establish – will solidify, so this is an absolutely vital juncture. Corporate culture depends on inertia; once in motion, it is very difficult – if not impossible – to alter it. Having a codified set of values enables others to make decisions while you are away. So invest time and thought into it now, so it will bolster and reinforce your business in times of change, such as growth.
Managing growth can be a huge challenge for companies unprepared for their success. By staying focused on the macro issues, you can set yourself up for success over the long haul.