What To Do When Your Company Outgrows Its Founding Leadership Mode
Every entrepreneur dreams of the day they can finally afford the luxury car of their dreams, yet when that day finally comes, it can be a scary experience. Used to driving a beat-up runaround to keep costs down while the business was growing, suddenly you have a whole lot more power under your control, and occasionally, that power can get away from you.
Growing a business can sometimes be a little like that, especially if you’ve achieved rapid growth. Orders come in, staff are hired, business is booming, and you suddenly find yourself out of your depth.
This can particularly be a problem with entrepreneurial start ups, precisely because the organization relies on the zeal and commitment of the founders to power it forward. Suddenly, a management team which is perfectly competent to run a $15M a year business finds itself having to keep on top of a $40M a year organization, with the over-extended growth coming through sheer determination alone.
Soon deadlines start to get missed, clients’ accounts start to suffer, and the organization can quickly fall into a situation in which they’re taking reputational damage.
Standing Still Is Going Backwards
Some good questions to ask yourself at this point include: What competencies does your leadership team need, and do they possess them? If not, can they be trained to acquire them, or do new hires need to be made?
Whatever the answers to those questions – whether you develop your leadership team or make new hires – take a moment to consider not where you are now, today, but where you want to be in five years time.
Too often when people make executive level decisions, they make them for the situation they’re currently in. If they’re running at $40M a year, they train or hire managers to be comfortable at that level. Yet if your plan is to power on to $60M or $80M, you’ll soon find yourself again over-extended in terms of management capability and back at panic stations.
This is particularly true if you’re considering hiring an organisational manager to run the operational side of the business for you. If you don’t hire someone with the capacity to grow and manage the business to where you want it to be, the money spent on that hire will be wasted.
Invest To Grow
One of the best investment decisions you can make for your management team as your business grows is to hire a Chief Operating Officer or Managing Director to integrate your workflow.
A true integrator is more than just a box-ticker or form-filler; they are your second in command. As such, they need to possess the initiative and insight required to integrate the workflow across departmental boundaries; they need to be strategic enough to understand the founders’ vision and translate that into scaleable, executable processes; they must have a good track record of creating growth; and they need the ability to engender accountability and performance from your workforce.
In their book Rocket Fuel, entrepreneurs Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters note: “Based on our experience, most Visionaries initially underestimate what they’ll need to pay their Integrator.” They suggest taking the figure you had in mind for your operational hire and adding 50%.
But before you pale at the thought, consider this: would that figure seem so outlandish if your turnover was today where you want it to be in five years? Because that’s the level you’re hiring for, not the level you’re currently at.
We Can Help
If you’re ready to find your operational soulmate, Soulidify is here for you. We have years of experience of finding just the right person to fit your unique circumstances, no matter what level you’re at – or aiming to reach. Call now for a free consultation.