Category: Business Growth
Edwin was an unbelievably prolific inventor and innovator. A chemist by training, he had the wisdom of knowing his own limitations. As capable a man as he was, he knew the only way to grow his business was to involve others in the company once it reached a certain level.
Most business owners have heard the story of Dr. Edwin Land, the inventor of instant photography and a pioneer in the polarization of light. Once he saw the potential of instant photography, he handed over the day to day operations and marketing to qualified people while he returned to his laboratory.
Interestingly enough, the personality strengths of focus, vision, specialization, and control could easily be the very cornerstones that thwart the future expansion of your company.
Successful companies started by one or a few individuals, as they expand, will discover the need for not only new skill sets, but new people to carry them out.
So, as a business owner desirous of growth, you have to ask yourself the question, how will the strengths of MY personality align with the new skills required to take MY company to the next level?
When you are considering internal and/or external growth strategies, be mindful of your business weaknesses and strengths, particularly in the areas of management style, personnel profiles and financial ability.
If you are expanding your business from depth in one area to breadth in another area, as an example, here are some questions for your consideration:
Can YOU make the transition?
Can YOUR PERSONNEL make the transition, especially if the move requires new skill sets or new people?
From a financial perspective, Peter Drucker, the famous management guru, has indicated in the Wall Street Journal, many companies can quickly outgrow their capital base when their sales increase by 40-50 percent. Using that as a directional guide for your company, you need to develop a plan to increase your capital base. That might be in the form of internally generated capital or external capital. Get with your accountant and develop an approach.
What is your management style? Do you have everything it takes to get to the next level of growth? Skill sets were mentioned earlier. What are your skills and those of your associates? How does your style fit in to a growth strategy? Karl Vesper, a management professor, has said "small business owners tend to be successful because they are perfectionists."
As their business expands, many times, the opportunities for perfection diminish. This issue alone, can become a defining moment for not only growth, but for the business owner, as well. Many business owners have the "my way or the highway" approach to doing business. This might work for a while, but during periods of significant growth, other decision makers and responsibility takers have to enter into the leadership dynamic.
This single move toward expansion can be very difficult for many owners and welcomed relief from the burdens of ownership, for others.
Where do YOU fit on that spectrum? The key issue of how and where you fit in a growing organization is going to be one of the major keys to a successful growth trajectory or an unsuccessful crash and burn.
The Kauffman Foundation calls this phenomenon loss of control phobia (LOCP). To overcome LOCP, business owners need to work WITH staff in transitioning some duties. Don’t just hand over the responsibilities with a "sink or swim" mentality. We’ve all heard stories of business owners who try and delegate more decision making authority to someone else, only to end up meddling in the transaction, not only undermining the employee, but losing the sale and making all the parties frustrated and mad.
A case in point, if you are considering growth via a second location, you'd better first think about who is going to run that location. If your management style is autocratic (my way or the highway) and you cannot delegate, your business could be headed for trouble.
On the other hand, if you affirm and support the decisions of your staff, there is an opportunity to open that second location more effectively and efficiently by learning from the mistakes of opening your first office.
Simply put, BE CAREFUL. If you must maintain complete control over your business, growth might be limited by those very issues. Identify the areas of limitation and determine if you can work around them or not. Dr. Edwin Land certainly worked around his limitations and so can you.
Be reflective, but realistic in your deliberations.
To search the archive of Perspectives articles, go to the Search page