future_proofing

If you’re starting a company or already have a young one that you want to position for growth, how exactly do you build a system that won’t break under the pressure of increased business growth? I want to share the top methods that helped me, both as an officer of an extremely fast-growing company and later in starting my own.

People

Hire the best. Your people will be your company, for good or bad. Take the time to find the very best people. Your first half-dozen employees are some of your most important business decisions. Spend a lot of time sifting through resumes and interviewing before choose the one, superb candidate. Do this for each position, personally. It’s time-consuming, but what better use of your time is there, than finding the best people?

Patience is key. I will wait as long as it takes to find the right person, even if that means leaving a position unfilled for months, a year or forever. I maintain it is better to leave it unfilled than to deal with crazy! Look at a lot of resumes and talk to a lot of candidates. Despite weeks or months of looking, I will still “pass” if the right person doesn’t come across my desk.

Be flexible. Infrequently you will be interviewing a candidate for one position, but in the back of your mind, you may be thinking “this person would be perfect for this other role.”  Don’t ignore that voice in your head. Some of my best hires have been as a result of recognizing brilliance when it’s right in front of you. Don’t force a square peg into a round hole.

Teamwork

Spend as much time on teambuilding as you did on hiring in the first place. You have to take an interest in people and their concerns. Learn to do this if it doesn’t come instinctively. Meet individually with each member of your company, over coffee or lunch.

Find out what makes them tick. Employees can tell if you’re being sincere and open. Tell them as much as you can about what’s going on at various levels of the company. Keep notes and review between these meetings so you can follow-up on previous discussions, ask about kids, home life, etc.

Take action quickly when you learn their concerns. A quick win here or there will build trust.

Communication

Step out of your office frequently and be a familiar presence in the workplace. Let people learn that you’re accessible and interested. People generally love to show their coworkers and supervisors cool things they’ve accomplished. Ask good questions, praise good work, and listen to and offer ideas and constructive suggestions.

As your company grows, you will spend more time dealing with people and their issues, than doing the actual “technical work.” Mentally prepare for that; it’s normal, expected, and healthy.

The people doing the work usually know how to make it work better. Open your eyes, ears and mind.

Delegation

Practice delegating to your team from the very beginning. You have to establish quickly that you can trust your personnel. Bake delegation into the culture. If you can’t delegate to someone, they shouldn’t be there.

Failing to delegate is one of the biggest traps for self-driven entrepreneurs. If you can’t learn to delegate, you’ll spend all your time working in the business and no time working on the business. You’ll be the choke-point holding back your company growth.

If your team knows what’s going on and how to handle its tasks – which include hiring and delegating – your company should pass any stress test the future throws at it.

Jason Worley is a technology innovator with more than 25 years in the tech industry. He is currently CEO of Asset Drone, which provides cutting-edge drone surveying, mapping and inspection services. Prior to founding Asset Drone with his partners, Jason was the Chief Information Officer at a major healthcare system, where he helped grow the business in various C-level roles over his 14-year tenure there. Jason was a key player to help grow the company from one location to more than 120, from a few dozen employees to more than 5,000.

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