As our company continues to expand and grow I understand because I’ve been a founder or one of the first employees before. The goal, at a startup, is to learn from your mistakes and as you build out the business make it better, smarter, and faster than ever. As you evolve, learn from the different personalities, processes, and adapt a framework that has worked before – understanding that the marketplace has changed and, especially in Information Technology, that things shift very rapidly.
Tony Robbins talks about these challenges in his article regarding the pain points of growing a business:
Systems and Process Problems:
Certainly, back-office and HR systems should change, as Tony mentions, those systems and processes that worked for a handful of employees probably aren’t going to work the same way for thirty plus. Be sure to hire productive, innovative, and self-starting employees that can not only adapt to change but can help bring it as well.
It’s important to keep your ear to the street and close to the industry to understand changes and trends. I’ve been stuck in the “one-trick pony” scenario before where alliances and offerings were starting to work great and soar, only to lose a year or two later because I hadn’t adapted enough to differentiate for customers farther down the road.
Culture = your people and vice versa
As the company grows you might start “noticing a change in the disposition and attitude of your original employees.” I completely relate to this. I personally was an original at a company that was infiltrated by strangers. It’s important if you are a sales manager or salesperson #1 to negotiate, negotiate, negotiate your package and your pay structure. It just makes sense. If you are not a founder or principal of the company, that company is going to use you for all your talents to build a great organization and make it stronger, but once there, management has very short memories. Praise and gratitude from company leadership are helpful and there is a time and a place for celebration and comradery, but business is business and money is money. Get your agreements signed and approved by legal to capture as much company stock, ownership, bonuses, and potential future payouts so you can enjoy the beginning as well as a successful exit.