As any small company starts to find success, growth inevitably follows. But when growing your business, say from a team of five to 50, it’s more than just headcount that changes. Office space grows, and roles and responsibilities shift as well. And there are dozens of intangible aspects that also change the dynamics of the company itself. Business leaders and company founders need to pay careful attention to these intangible changes as they continue to build their roadmaps for the future.
Maintaining culture… as it evolves
One of the most important assets of a company is its culture. Whether you’re the restaurateur who’s bussing dishes alongside your wait staff or the founder who’s taking customer calls with your service rep, setting the tone from day one is important in establishing the work culture of the group. But as the team grows, the visibility and closeness to your team will become harder to manage. Blood, sweat, and tears are poured into any budding business, and naturally you’ll want the same enthusiasm and passion of your starting team to be in each new hire as you expand. So how do you maintain the values and work ethos that you’ve instill when as a small team?
Traditions are a great way to instill a sense of stability in the sea of changes a company goes through while scaling. They create continuity of spirit and values from “the early days” and can be as simple as celebrating employee birthdays. Other methods include hosting hackathons to support innovation and creativity, volunteering as a team to create a sense of community, and celebrating anniversaries or company milestones to acknowledge and appreciate the team’s work.
Building processes: set it, break it, fix it
As a two-person or even a five-person team, it’s easy to just email your whole team to get everyone on the same page with a sales lead — but it’s no longer an efficient way to collaborate on a deal when you’re a company of 50 and growing. Creating processes naturally comes with growing a business; it’s an efficient way to helps folks from different teams to organize and align on what needs to be done. But once you create a process, you’ve got to be open to breaking it; as a small team, you can be agile and can quickly make changes as the business continues to evolve. Great technology, like a CRM for #small business, can support and adapt to changing processes, while maintaining visibility that a growing business requires.
Learning to let go
This is a tough one for any founder or CEO. Being the problem-solving go-to person to becoming more of a motivator and company visionary is a hard shift to make. As a founder or early team member, you’re likely to be sales, marketing, service, and IT support, all rolled into one. But when a business starts growing, you can no longer be everything and do everything; it’s important to recognize when and what to let go — and learn to share leadership.
Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing. —Tom Peters
One of the most exciting aspects of a growing business is being able to grow leaders. And it’s also key to continuing your growth as a company. Shifting roles and responsibilities allow those tenured teammates, who are probably the Jacks-and-Jills-of-all-trades, to really step up and lead their own teams; this is great news for the company, too, given their breadth and knowledge of the business. Sharing leadership with other members of your team allows you to focus your time on the business as a whole and plan the next phase of your growth. And once you’ve established a strong culture of teamwork, you can be confident you’ve got the right people to lead your growing teams.
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