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Breaking News: You’re No Longer a Small Shop

(May 2014) posted on Wed May 07, 2014

What you might experience as you’re making the transition to a big business, and how to identify some ideas that will help along the way.

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By Marty McGhie

And implementing processes should not only be restricted to production. For instance, establishing an effective system for entering critical data as a job comes into your shop is just as important. You’re already familiar with the cliché: garbage in, garbage out. If you don’t have a good way to accurately enter orders into your job system, you’re doomed to fail – and rather frequently. As your business continues to grow, this will become much more of an issue. Developing processes for all areas of your business is critical.

The people side of your business is also important. As you continue to expand, you’ll find that your problems will become not only more frequent, but also more complex. This will tend to move you out of your comfort zone as you face more complicated issues.

Figure out where your own weak spots are, then find someone who has that strength to be a resource to you. That might mean finding a sales manager or perhaps a production manager. You may need to add additional help to handle the administrative and human-resource issues – because these will be coming your way much more frequently. Accounting, too, is a department that will always need your full attention, to make sure bills are being paid and invoices are being collected. There will come a time when it will make sense to hire a company controller, or eventually even a chief financial officer.

You might choose to utilize people within your own company to fill these new management roles. The advantage of in-house hires is that they tend to already understand your business philosophies and approach to dealing with problems – so they’ll tend to solve those problems the way you would have. On the other hand, they may still feel like they must defer to your judgment even after they’ve been promoted to a management position, and they’ll expect you to continue to solve all their problems. Additionally, promoting your own people sometimes robs you of the opportunity to get fresh ideas and a different perspective of your business. Promoting within your organization and hiring from the outside both have their merits.

Get ahead of the train
Once you acquire additional help, your responsibilities as the head of the organization begin to change. Now, you must take on a new role of trainer, mentor, and delegator. Spend the necessary time helping your management staff understand the overall vision of the company. Share your expectations. Mentor them on how you might approach situations they will be challenged with in their roles as managers. Delegate responsibilities to them.

And perhaps this is the most difficult task of all: Allow them to fail. Don’t hover over them – physically or mentally – making them feel like they are being second-guessed. Most managers learn more from their mistakes than they do from their successes.

If your company is a small business growing into a big business, my challenge to you is: Get ahead of the train that’s heading your way. Be proactive in taking a big-business approach to your future.