Leading a growing business is an incredible opportunity! For the small business owner, it means you did it! It’s also challenging as what got you to this level may not work at the next level. That’s why so many small businesses fail at this juncture.
Marshall Goldsmith said, “Successful leaders become great leaders when they learn to shift the focus from themselves to others.” And that is crucial for growing businesses. This post reviews three essential concepts you need to master to continue your business success:
- Identify Your Helpers Who Can Become Leaders
- Build Team Alignment
- Communicate effectively with intent
Identify Your Helpers Who Can Become Leaders
As businesses grow, owners typically surround themselves with people who can help them execute the duties of the company. First, they may hire someone to handle the books, then perhaps marketing and sales. Then they begin to achieve success, so they bring on additional workers who can help get the work done. And in those early stages, the owner can lead that team alone. They are directing actions, setting priorities, and providing instruction. At a certain point, that level of involvement becomes more difficult.
Around 15-20 employees find themselves running out of time. They are no longer running the business; the business is running them. They can’t set priorities because now the day-to-day work is the priority. And as they shift their focus on the day-to-day, they lose sight of the long-term goals for the business, and it becomes difficult to see how they can take the company to the next level. What they need is time, time to look to the future and set the direction again.
They need more than helpers around them; they need leaders. Bringing in people to lead the team frees the owner to focus on the future.
At this point, the problems can start. The business isn’t executing how they would like. Your team is not serving your customers as you would like, and they are not doing the work the way they would. Why is that?
Build Team Alignment
I’ve made the mistake of not doing this well.
In my last business, I wasn’t clear with my leaders on the priorities around building a new product while supporting an existing product. As a result, the loudest voices in the rooms I wasn’t in shifted the priorities far too much in the direction of the new product. Before I knew it, we were losing ground and market share in our existing product.
That situation taught me that to lead the team successfully, and I needed to be very clear in setting the vision and priorities for the business. So, I set about getting very clear about building a plan for our company. I needed something that clarified my vision for the business. Who our clients and products were. How will we approach our clients? How much revenue we were going to have and what our margins would be.
I clarified our key objectives, strategies for achieving them, and what projects we would prioritize to close the gaps that stood in the way of making our objectives and executing our strategy. In the end, I built a business plan that worked for our business, kept it laser-focused on growth, and made it clear so our teams could align around it.
Leading a Growing Business Through Communication
With a plan for the way forward, the next step is to communicate it. Your business plan is not worth the paper you printed it on without an effective communication strategy. Your first step is to pull your leadership team together and explain the plan. It’s essential to give them the opportunity for feedback so you can fix any holes or assumptions you’ve made. And once you lock it down tight, get the commitment from your team that they are all on board. Once the plan is complete, there is no room for disagreement.
Then you take the plan to your entire team. I always like the idea of creating regular town halls. You roll the plan out to the organization in the first town hall. Your goal in this meeting is to ensure the entire team is on board. They all understand where you are taking the business and, critically, what their role is in helping you achieve that vision. Team members who understand their roles are more engaged, more productive, and happier in their roles. Then, each month, reconvene that town hall and update the team on progress. Reinforce the vision. Reinforce the priorities and end game for your business.
If you are leading a growing business, you need to execute these critical steps. When they are in place, your business will grow, you will have more time to focus on the future, and you will achieve your goals faster because everyone on your team is on board.
If you’re interested in talking more about this issue, let’s set up a time to connect. In just 30 minutes, we can develop true clarity on your path forward.