Scaling and the 3 Pillars of Execution Capability – Part 1 – People.
Even though many of us entrepreneurs choose to operate as sole-traders, there comes a time in our business when we must decide to accept the status quo, and whatever limitations come with that, or decide to scale the business to something much bigger than we have right now.
A decision to scale our business means stepping outside of our comfort zone and building execution capability that gives us the chance to succeed at a totally new level. This does not come without risks. It means that we must invest in our business and in ourselves. It requires us to add a layer of complexity to our business that may initially make us feel uncomfortable. It requires us to look outside ourselves and to accept our personal limitations. It frequently means putting our own money or savings on the line.
This post is the first in a series of 3 posts, which look at how we might approach scaling our business. There are 3 essential components to any business – people, process and infrastructure. To scale a business, we must add people, build business processes and put the right infrastructure in place to support a redefined bigger business.
Importantly, we must also have the right business strategies in place and we must sequence them to so that things happen in the right order. The sequence will be different for each business. However, the 3 pillars remain the same. This first post in the series deals with people.
When we are sole-traders, we make every decision ourselves. We are agile and can make decisions quickly. We rarely seek advice before making these decisions. However, once we recruit people to help us to run our business, we are creating a whole new dynamic and we have to learn a whole new skill set. We have to avoid losing our agility. Hiring people should not slow us down or make it more difficult to take decisions and implement them. Instead, it is all about recruiting the right people, empowering them by setting clear goals and objectives, making them responsible and accountable, and then standing back. Have the courage to hire people that are smarter than you, as this will help overcome any limitations you may personally have.
I have added some links to other blog articles I have written, which will give you specific information on key things you should be doing as you move from sole trader to a business with multiple employees, should you want to delve into more detail. The content is equally relevant for firms that are moving from steady but unspectacular growth to significantly scaling their businesses.
The first couple of hires will be the most challenging, as you try to figure out how to split up the responsibilities, which you have automatically assumed yourself until now, into defined jobs. Don’t rush in and recruit just anyone. You must adopt the discipline of creating detailed job descriptions, with well-defined roles and responsibilities, before you start the recruitment process for every new hire. You can read more about how to do this in another post on this blog at http://howsmybusinessdoing.com/benefits-of-defined-roles-and-responsibilities-in-your-business/.
Once this is done, you need to make sure that you recruit the best possible person for each job. I would suggest you use a system called Topgrading for guiding you in your recruitment and selection activities, which I talk about in the following post http://howsmybusinessdoing.com/what-is-topgrading-and-how-can-i-use-it-to-hire-the-best-employees/. Essentially, you need to recruit “A Players” that can make a huge contribution to your business, rather than “B or C Players”. Let the people you are interviewing know that you will require them to set up telephone interviews with a number of their former bosses or supervisors as part of the recruitment process. This will help prevent over-inflated resumes from blind-siding you and it will stop candidates from lying to you in interviews. Yes, candidates will often lie in interviews.
Next, you must develop the skills of a leader and learn to lead and manage effectively. If you have carefully crafted the job descriptions, then the new hires will have clarity around their responsibilities. Do avoid micro-managing your new employees. If you have picked the right ones, then they will take responsibility for delivering and they should meet and surpass your expectations. You will find some tips on adopting the right management style in the following post http://howsmybusinessdoing.com/identify-your-management-style-micro-management-or-empowerment/. As a business owner, you need to aspire to being a cheerleader rather than a manager. Be clear about your expectations and then stand back and allow employees to execute their roles in their own way, while using their own skills and intellect. If you have the right employees, and they need help, they will ask for it.
You need to create the right culture or mindset within the business so that employees are mutually supporting, that they adopt a “can-do” attitude, that they are flexible and open to change, and that they go the extra mile for the business and its customers. If you want to learn more about the specifics of managing employees for high performance, you might like to access my blog article about the “right stuff”, which is available on the this link http://growthoracle.com/your-clients-have-they-got-the-right-stuff/. The “People” section in that blog post will give you clarity around how you should run your Human Resources function.
People are just one leg of a three-legged stool. Although they can be the most important ingredients in taking your business to the next level, without the other two legs of process and infrastructure your expansion plans may be doomed to fail.
Once you have built the 3 pillars to support your business, you are only then in a position to attempt to seriously scale it. The second installment in this blog series will deal with Process, and will be published next week.