Growth is good, right? It is validating to see the business that you started from a seed growing into a sturdy thing. Growth is a sign that you have done a lot of things right – discovering a need in the market, finding and retaining customers, producing a valuable product or service, etc. But there are CEO challenges in a growing company. Growth can cost you lost sleep, stress, life balance, and more. Fortunately there are ways to address the challenges that the CEO in a growth business faces.
“I need a team”
One of the toughest decisions early in business growth is when to start to add team members. It’s partly because you don’t want to risk someone’s livelihood when you’re unsure about the future, and you don’t want to drain your cash with payroll. But as the business continues to prosper, that’s no longer the biggest challenge. It becomes more about what functions you need to perform in the business, and whether you have someone awesome who is accountable for making sure they are happening properly.
If you think you need a team it’s time to do an assessment. How many of the critical functions in your business are you managing yourself? Are there too many responsibilities in the hands of one or two people? Is there something that you need now that you didn’t need then, something for which you need to attract someone with a specialized skill set?
If you want your company to keep growing and not stagnate, you need people with the values, not just the technical skills, to move you forward. If you are going to delegate – and you ARE going to delegate more, aren’t you? – you need people to whom you can entrust the most important tasks. If you have a desire for a vacation without a phone tether to the office you will do this.
“I need a game plan”
Said no entrepreneur ever. Seriously, though, while your plan might have started in your head, or on the back of a cocktail napkin, your business is bigger than that now. Your plan doesn’t only belong to you – it also belongs to the people who are going to help you accomplish it. Even the best team members might have a difficult time reading your mind about your expectations for the business.
When you are growing quickly (20%+ per year) you won’t benefit from a plan that stretches 3-5 years. You do need this longer term context, but if the point of the plan is to implement it, you need to define what the expectations are for this year, this quarter, and this week. Moreover, conditions are changing far too fast in your business for you to commit only to a long term plan. Rapidly growing companies are laboratories, so you need the flexibility to try things, and the nimbleness that allows you to take advantage of a shift in the market. You can’t always predict what those things will be (although savvy CEOs sometimes can see things coming), but you can line up your resources so you are ready when they happen. You don’t want to miss your window.
“I need more accountability on my team”
Some would say that execution is more important than the game plan. But you don’t want to be busy running around without a laser focus on what’s important. Execution from our perspective is that you use the plan as a foundation, as a context for action, and then you work on building a rhythm in your business to get it done. You define the outcome you want, you create measurements so you know how you are doing (KPIs, or key performance indicators), and you allocate responsibility for making sure the outcomes happen.
Communication rhythm is also an important ingredient here, to make sure that problems are solved quickly and that all parts of the business know how they are impacting the results of the whole. Too many companies only meet to talk about the big stuff and not about the little stuff that gets in the way every day. If you were to adopt only one execution habit, it should be the daily huddle. Yes, we know you have logistics challenges in doing that. But you’ve been growing a business. You can figure it out. Communication in a growing company is a group of processes to be managed like your production and other processes. It needs to be predictable and easily repeatable.
“I need more cash”
Lots of things eat cash during rapid growth. You’ve got the increasing payroll, more raw and finished goods, more accounts receivable, higher marketing expense, and you may even need to be looking at a larger facility. The good news is that you can probably find some of the cash you need right within your business, in the sales, production, delivery, billing and collection processes. It’s also important to remember that profit fuels growth, but it’s cash flow that will give you indigestion.
How long does it take a dollar that’s invested to come back to you at the end? Each of the phases of the Cash Cycle has its opportunities for you to manage your cash position.
Even the best CEOs don’t have all of the answers, so you don’t have to either. Savvy CEOs know, though, that it’s smart to tap into resource that can provide information that you need. SummitHRD knows how to help you install the framework to support your business, and to support you, as your company grows.