Starting a new business is a thrilling and challenging task for any entrepreneur. Most have an innate drive that pushes them to realize their vision through hard work, resiliency, and sheer passion. Those characteristics are all valuable to fuel the early stages of a venture, but as many find out, do little to help navigate the transition from early stage business to growing SME.
The fact is, running a business is difficult. The day-to-day aspects of simple operations alone are sometimes enough to consume the energy (and sanity) of many entrepreneurs and early stage staff. Part of the problem is that most startups are populated with employees that love challenges and hate repetition. There’s also a tendency towards centralization, which requires existing staff (and particularly the founder) to be involved with every new process or task.
To successfully transition to a growth stage, entrepreneurs must rethink the way they do things, and reorganize staff to accommodate new and shifting priorities. Here are four tips on how to get it done.
Reinvent the Entrepreneur
Organizational change begins at the top and works its way down through the leadership structure. That means that entrepreneurs must first realize that they will have to adapt to a different role than they are used to. First and foremost, they must learn to relinquish control over many aspects of their business and focus only on managing the overall direction it takes. At this point, it’s also an excellent idea to invest in business management courses to learn the right skills for the job.
Build a Management Structure
In order to delegate the many tasks that the founder had previously handled themselves, it’s necessary to build a management structure. Hiring managers to handle day-to-day operations is something many startups put off for far too long, which prevents them from realizing early growth. Managers can be recruited from existing staff if there are employees that have suitable skills, or brought in from the outside if necessary. Whatever you opt for, remember that the manager is only good as the tools he has at his disposal, so make sure the necessary systems are in place. Everything from communications and employee productivity tracking to inventory management software needs to be present in order for things to run smoothly. It’s also critical to communicate the need for the changes to the existing staff, in order to prevent upsetting the balance of the organization.
Move Away From Moonshots, Towards Predictability
Although every business needs to continue to innovate to ensure long-term success, an SME in a growth stage must be designed to ensure consistent output and results. The constant focus on “the next big thing” must be replaced with performing core business functions better and more reliably than the competition. That means that more staff should be dedicated to customer-focused tasks, like customer acquisition and training. It’s also important to refine internal practices for employee onboarding and communications to prevent a drop off in results as staff size grows.
Codify the Culture
A successful culture is a key part of every company that makes it through the startup phase and becomes a growing business. As that growth begins, though, it’s very easy for that culture to drift away from what made the company successful in the first place. To prevent that from happening, take steps to define and declare the core principles of the company culture before significant growth occurs. That will not only ensure that the company remains on a path that stays true to its founding, but will also help to attract new talent that believes in the same core principals.
A Business That Runs Without You
No entrepreneur wants to hear this, but succeeding in transitioning a startup to a thriving and growing SME means that they will no longer be central to the success of the business. That may be hard to take for some, but it is actually a sign that they’ve done their job perfectly. It means that a competent and reliable management structure has taken root and that all employees know their role and do their jobs to the best of their ability. The good news is that it also means that the entrepreneur can take a break, or even begin a whole new venture, secure in the knowledge that their vision created a successful company.