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Scaling Your Business – Ready to Scale Your Leadership Team?

“Can't reinvent the wheel. But you can put your spin on it.” - Lauren Buekes, The Shining Girl

Are you looking to improve your business growth and operations performance?

Over time, every business must evaluate their operations and management structure to be able to exploit business expansion opportunities fully. It could be that you’re looking to add revenue streams or products to your service offering or perhaps expand internationally and into new geographical regions.

There is nothing unique about the growing pains associated with advancing your start-up by scaling your business operations. Research the past two decades, and you’ll likely find some common ground with other successful entrepreneurs and business owners regarding successful business growth.

Comparing your start-up to similar companies which have carried out successful growth initiatives may assist in simplifying some of your day-to-day processes or may alert you to potential pitfalls you hadn’t thought of yet.

For you, if scaling your business and management team is a priority, then you must prioritise and plan your desired action steps and business goals to achieve your vision.

Delegation to Stop the Plate-Spinning

As an ambitious entrepreneur and with large quantities of “vim and vigour”, you created your start-up – directing all aspects of your business. Like the old variety show performer spinning plates atop several wooden rods, you would rush from department to department to ensure no operation plates were in danger of falling off, from sales leads to issuing invoices, you pretty much run the “ship”.

Eventually, you may have hired or be in the process of expanding your team structure, by hiring freelancers, contractor or designated department managers, which will help to free up some of your time.

Sadly, there are still many hands-on tasks to be completed by you, and as you become more comfortable with the delegation, you will reduce your workload even further.

Instead of fretting over what additional plates you will have to manage as part your daily operations, it’s time to develop a fully staffed leadership team. There is a big difference between management and leadership. It helps if you’re clear and transparent on what you’re trying to achieve by adding in additional layers to your business. Is the goal to free up your time or hire more staff to grow your team structure?

Leaders and managers are intrinsically linked, and a good organisation design will have clear lines of hierarchy between business leaders, managers and operational teams. Typically, leaders will focus on creating a vision and developing a high performing team, and managers will focus on short-term day-to-day goals.

Develop Your Leadership Team!

Think of the structure of a Premier League football team. The Chairman is considered the ultimate leader of organisations such as Manchester United or Arsenal. Those chairmen are relying on other managers – various directors down to the coaches – to manage day-to-day operations and make critical decisions on the teams' performance.

While some directors have shared duties, there usually is one person keeping overall tabs of each club and are the sole contact to each club’s chairman. In business, typically, this position is referred to as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) or in smaller companies, Back Office Administration.

If you’re shying away from adding another step in the leadership hierarchy of your start-up, you aren’t alone. To give yourself time for reflection and focus on other areas of interest in your life, having a “second in command” is a good step for you to explore.

Many start-ups refuse to acknowledge the importance of a COO and how helpful the position can be in a successful scale-up and help to improve business growth:

  • The COO may be familiar with several of the critical business operations components of your start-up’s various departments; human resources, marketing, supply chain, finance and accounts. Therefore, having this person in-situ should help you to alleviate your continuous plate spinning aspect. The COO isn’t a cookie-cutter position, so the hiring process is critical to business growth success.

  • It would help if you trusted this person explicitly. Examine the options of promoting a current employee versus hiring someone from the outside. Someone in-house may have worked within a few of the departments already, providing the well-rounded business operations background. Alternatively, bringing in someone with a fresh perspective and extensive experience, which includes a similar successful business growth scale-up process, should also be a strong consideration as your COO.

  • To succeed, the COO must be one capable of maintaining (and developing new) business culture and values — an area where an in-house choice may be more favourable.

Critical Leadership Qualities

Words like autonomy, motivation and communication are quick to be placed on the forefront of any qualification list. You will be seeking out those leaders who want to be on their own. While autonomy is significant, every member of the leadership team must know the importance of keeping you (usually relayed through the COO) well-informed of operations.

Motivation from leadership doesn’t always have to be of the ‘rah-rah’ variety. It’s not just the team huddle at the beginning of the week. Business leaders cannot expect each department employee to be motivated the same way. Understanding each person will result in leaders using multiple motivational techniques to encourage increased productivity and business results.

If a person has trouble communicating or tends to avoid conflict, there is little chance to become a successful leader without investing time to change their behaviours. Focusing on their blind spots will help an aspiring leader to become more grounded and self-aware when dealing with their teams.

The business world has finally realised there is a vast difference between being a successful manager and a successful leader.

Often, communication skills are the barrier and those that can articulate, delegate and inspire truly transformational business growth and improve team performance, are the gems you want to nurture within your organisation.

Need Help Scaling Your Business & Leadership Team?

It can sometimes be challenging to gain the perspective and free time needed to scale-up your business operations. We are here to help. If at any point, you want an expert “second opinion” to review your business strategy, leadership structure, business planning or financial forecasts? Let’s talk!

Noirwolf Consulting is a global strategy and change management consulting firm in Leeds. Noirwolf works with clients in the UK, USA and broader international markets to develop their comprehensive strategic plans and business change programs.

We help entrepreneurs, small and mid-size business with professional business plan writing services, financial forecasts, optimise operations performance and help you to implement technology automation solutions to grow your businesses.

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