People & Human Resources

My business isn’t growing. What is the solution?

Andrew Sadauskas /

Dear Aunty B,

We have 15 staff and have not been able to grow for the past two years.

I have made the momentous decision to bring in a general manager, as I am exhausted with running the business and need to spend more time on strategy.

But what stopped me doing this in the past were several bad experiences trying to get people to step up into that role.

My husband says it is because I am looking for “Mini Me” and that I need to restructure differently so I don’t need a GM but instead I have about three or four really strong people in the leadership team.

But he has only worked in large businesses, and the idea of having someone run the business under me in a competent fashion will give me the confidence to let go, especially if I just had to deal with one person. What do you think? One GM or do I share the load better across my senior staff?

Tricky

 

Dear Tricky,

There is a question to ask before you ask that question if you get my drift.

Answer this: What will you and your business look like in three years’ time? You have 15 staff now. In three years’ time will you have 50 staff? 500 staff? 20 staff?

What are your plans? What are your opportunities? What is the market demand for your product? What is your access to cash? All these questions need to be answered first before you decide on your structure.

Many companies also fall into what I call the “GM trap”. The founder/CEO gets to the stage where they want to actually do their job properly. They need time to be reflective, network, stay on top of opportunities and strategy, search for talent and ensure capital requirements are adequate for long-term growth.

But when you have 15 staff you are in that horrible phase where you are still the business. Everyone calls on you and you really are head of operations as opposed to a CEO. So, unusually, your husband is right. What is the easiest solution to imagine? A mini you that does everything.

Now, maybe that is a good interim step; except, in my experience, they are incredibly hard to find and for good reason. There is only one you. Also when you do your modelling and see you are going to be a larger company, you will also need to do your structure and you will find it is a traditional leadership structure with about six key positions reporting to a CEO. Why?

Well, it’s like capitalism. There are lots of problems with it but it seems to be the system that works the best.

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Andrew Sadauskas

Andrew Sadauskas is a former journalist at SmartCompany and a former editor of TechCompany.

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