As a business owner, you’re probably used to keeping the firmest possible grasp on every aspect of your organisation.
Yet this is a problem – or several problems – when it’s time to grow. How can you expand without losing control of essential functions? Who do you trust to take over their management? How do you transition your own role from one of director to facilitator? How do you let go, when you’ve spent your entire business life hanging on?
The answer to all these questions is – with the right partner!
At Orchard Coaching, we generally see two growth scenarios playing out. Both of these demonstrate why getting the right help at the right time, and planning the transition, is so crucial to success.
Let’s take a look.
A young, enthusiastic start-up was amazed by its early success, and desperate to grow quickly. Driven by excitement as much as by knowledge, the owner knocked a leadership structure into place, then forged ahead.
Six months later, everything had changed. Without a designated manager or management team, the appointed leader was overwhelmed by responsibilities. Without regular meetings, no-one knew what anyone else was doing. Without a considered structure, the business was in freefall.
-Solution: The owner sat down with an experienced business coach, creating an efficient leadership structure, and identifying a new direction aligned with the organisation’s values and goals.
-Result: Employees blossomed with the right support, at the right time, and customers loved a more productive and engaging experience.
A successful family business, established for several years, had reached the limits imposed by its father-and-son ownership team.
With their customer base growing, they realised they were at risk of losing touch with vital elements of their business – employees, customer needs, company values and quality control.
Solution: Before events could spiral out of control, they held a meeting with key employees. Having considered their prospects, the joint owners decided to call in the big guns – an experienced business coach to help them navigate this new territory.
Result: A steady growth phase facilitated by designated leadership and management teams, cleverly avoiding the potential pitfalls.
Planning the journey from ‘owner’ to ‘enterprise’
Answer these questions before starting the growth transition from an owner centric to enterprise centric business structure.
What does the future leadership structure look like and how will it work?
You need a firm and fair leadership structure, with designated managers and regular reporting.
How are decisions made and how are they communicated to the business?
Everyone must have clear responsibilities, transparent operations and be answerable to key leadership.
How is the transition from owner focused to not owner focused best conducted?
This is accomplished when the owner delegates not only tasks, but the responsibilities they entail.
Do those brought into the leadership team/s have the right skills for the role, and the capacity needed?
The owners must identify future leaders, ensure they know exactly what they need to do, and have the skills, training and coaching required to carry it out.
How will the team set itself up to be effective?
The right structure and decision-making framework are needed for team members to function efficiently, both as individuals and team members.
Do teams have the support they need to operate effectively and profitably?
When building your hierarchy, you must ensure teams have targeted, effective support from senior leaders, key executives and any external stakeholders like investors or key partners.
Factors involved in successful growth
As your business grows and staff numbers increase, commercial decisions become ever more complex. Your expansion needs to be considered and staged, to avoid the inherent dangers of growing too fast, in an ad hoc way.
Success depends on you moving from a role of dominating every decision, to one of facilitating others to make those decisions for you. This means you need to:
- Identify and hire the right people.
- Provide the skills and training they need.
- Establish a decision-making framework.
- Identify leadership and management teams.
- Hold regular team and one-on-one meetings.
- Establish clear accountability measures.
- Create achievable key performance indicators.
- Firm up your company branding.
- Develop strong internal communications.
- Document all business systems and processes.
- Set out defined career pathways for employees.
- Nurture, engage and coach your future leaders.
- Create a succession plan.
The Rewild Group’s ‘Stage of Growth Calculator’ can help you work out exactly where you are in your growth phase. Once you know, you can make more informed decisions about when and how you transition.