Do it Right, Do it Light
Whether you have played organized sports or have never stepped foot on a field or court; you've probably heard a typical coaching expression. "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing!" Or one of my favorites, "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog." The cool thing about these expressions in not only that they motivate and inspire, but also that they can really apply to anything in life. In the past month I was able to observe first hand two companies who are in a fantastic stage of their business. Unprecedented growth. By this I mean, that although they have been at it for a long time and although they have been consistently growing; they seem to be hitting a stage of exponential growth. This is obviously a great place to be, however, times like these tend to create what we call "good problems." What I noticed is that in times like these people in the company who were once in charge of a few things are now overloaded with new responsibilities and job titles. The justification for this by the entrepreneur is simple, keep things lean and save money. While this is always a good option to try, it is also good to keep in mind an old coaches saying I once heard; "Do it right, do it light,…do it wrong, do it long."
Exponential growth seems to come out of nowhere sometimes so it is no surprise that the immediate reaction is to ask everyone to do a bit more to handle it. In addition, an entrepreneur is usually concerned that the growth might not last, so hiring new people comes with certain reluctance. This is not only normal but a wise progression. That said, I have also witnessed entrepreneurs who feel they have truly broken to the other side. Meaning, they know they have officially entered a new stage of growth but they continue to place larger and larger loads on the people that got them there. This can be detrimental in the long term because often the reason the entrepreneur got to this stage was that his or her team were doing their jobs well. At this stage the cliché "jack of all trades, master of none," might be applicable and it might just be time to bring on some help.
In talking with an entrepreneur who owned multiple franchises I was able to get a picture of how differently two of his franchisees were running their respective franchises. Both franchisees were doing well but one franchise was operating on the "few people with multiple jobs" method and the other franchise was much more compartmentalized. The operator of the first franchise seemed to be more stressed and spent a lot more time putting out fires. The second operator seemed calm and confident that things were getting done and done right. Of course, the first operator's payroll was much smaller than the second operator; however, the second operator was making more money. Like most things in business, this is not a simple right way, wrong way issue. Only you as the owner of your business can analyze your company and decide what is best for your particular situation. Some might want to stay lean for longer until they are completely sure about their growth; others might be hearing a coach’s whistle in their sleep. Can I get a win on 3…?