When it comes to running a business some things can only be learned through experience. When your new business grows by leaps and bounds overnight, nothing can prepare you to navigate that kind of rapid company expansion quite like being in the trenches. Through our own journey in growing a company from zero to twenty, we have a couple good lessons worth sharing:
Make sure to give different departments within your business an equal voice from day one. If you incorporate collaboration into every part of your business, it will establish culture as important and will cement the idea that great teams are more important than great individuals. It’s a team effort and you need to make sure that is a clear objective for your entire team.
Maintaining a culture of continuous improvement can be incredibly important for a young company. Mistakes are bound to happen, but you have to make sure to treat those mistakes as opportunities rather than letting it become a huge set back. These mistakes will strengthen your business in the end if they are taken care of properly. Continuous improvement will create a safe culture where you are always asking yourself, and your team, how you can be better.
Growth shines a light on awesome employees. Your Business needs can change so quickly that the roles and responsibilities you define for employees can become obsolete only months after being defined. Gold star employees are able to bend to meet the changing needs of the business while other folks are not. During the rapid growth stages, it is important that you have leaders on your team that can both bend to fit the evolving needs and put the interests of the business above their own. Once you identify these gold star employees, empower them. They will be the leaders in your company.
These days, young adults are founding companies, and that can provide a lot of unique strengths, but great people management is not one of them. When the elation of the first couple of years fades it is super important that you bring in patient, experienced people that can assist you in growing the business. You'll probably catch yourself learning as much from those people as you learned from your own experiences running a business.
One mistake you will likely make early on is hiring the wrong person. When you hire a bad employee, the risks are small. When you hire a bad manager, the risks are multiplied. When you hire a bad executive, it’s disastrous. Bringing talent into the company is critical, but it's easy to get it wrong. You need to focus on their qualities and experience as well as if they fit into your company culture. You’ve established a team and it is crucial that new additions fit seamlessly. If someone doesn’t fit make sure you take action right away. Just like an untreated cut that can get worse fast, rationalizing a decision to avoid confronting an awkward situation can be incredibly harmful to your company. You'll never regret asking someone to leave your company. You will only regret that you didn't do it sooner.
Every company is unique, and what worked for one might not work for another. Through the trials and tribulations experienced while learning to manage your own company's growth, you'll learn a few things that will be remembered forever. Those will be the lessons that you learn from, and can use in the future to navigate new challenges in your journey to grow your company.