A lot of entrepreneurs, especially when they’re in startup mode, want to hold on to every aspect of their business, from marketing to finance to implementation to customer service – you name it. If you want to position your business for self-sustaining, long-term success, your best first step is to put the right people in the right places. If you can’t scale, you can’t grow – and one person can’t scale anything.
Let’s say you’re doing very well as a small to mid-size business based on your specialized skill and passion, but you lack the efficiencies required to scale and grow. First, you need to define those inefficiencies, and most of the time, the best way to do that objectively is by bringing someone in from the outside with a skill set that can be applied to your business. It might be a software expert, a human resources specialist, or any number of people in between who can help you be the business – that is, take those crucial next steps from passion to profit.
Colleges have offered management information systems (MIS) as a major for decades. And for those of us that have been around for decades, we tended to believe in computers and automation long before it was a thing. What we call the internet today barely existed, putting forth the question of, “How do I create efficiencies using technology?” Because the college generation of the 1980s was so big on learning and trying to figure out how to create those efficiencies, it essentially became a career path for many of us. That path has now evolved to include aspects of business that live outside the tech space, but that still very much focus on creating efficiencies. More important, it’s become about implementing those efficiencies during a company’s startup phase in a synergistic way that places trust in people – and asking the same from them in return.
Once you start to create the types of efficiencies to grow and scale your company, it’s the partnerships within the company that are vital to maintaining those efficiencies. Partnerships within the company every day could – and should – extend well beyond your core market and into sales, software and business development. Plus, you should always consider a way to partner with our customers as well. Without considering their feedback, you might be giving them a product or service they can’t use.
Striking the balance between your area of expertise and that of the people you choose to bring in can be incredibly fulfilling, but it could also be your biggest challenge. You have to partner with and hire people who are the best at what they do in their respective positions, and then you have to trust them. That’s hard as a business owner because you want to put your fingers in everything, but it comes down to what’s working and what’s not. If things aren’t working, then you address each challenge as it arrives and it becomes an open conversation. It’s really about measuring success, and that comes in different ways.
Understanding and valuing the importance of this dynamic also has the potential to help you expand your skill set, learn more about important aspects of your own business and even about other industries altogether. As a successful business owner who loves food, your business acumen could allow you to partner with a talented chef looking to open a restaurant – as long as you know when to stay out of the way. On paper, that should be easy because you probably have no idea how to cook for 350 people, but you also have to make sure to establish and nurture those vital partnerships within the restaurant – for instance, finding a talented general manager to run the front of the house – before you can get to work implementing the business: finalizing the concept, finding a great location and raising the necessary money to get the doors open. Everyone will have a part to play, but all while working toward a common goal.
That same dynamic also works if and when you’re looking to diversify into industries you might know virtually nothing about personally, but which you feel could change the world for the better in some way – while also helping the company behind it become financially successful. Maybe a cutting-edge environmental technology that’s expensive to produce but could do a world of good on the mass market. Again, this is where the proper combination of expertise and trust is invaluable: By applying your knowledge of how to properly scale a business, you might recommend that, rather than sell the technology outright at a high price point, it could be sold as part of a monthly subscription model, creating a much lower barrier to entry for a brand-new product while also bringing in the type of continuous monthly revenue that creates a larger multiple in the long run.
Every entrepreneur dreams of creating a one-of-a-kind solution to a one-of-a-kind problem. But without the right people in place and a proper plan to market and scale that solution, a dream is all it will ever be.