In my experience, entrepreneurs tend to avoid pretty much anything they consider to be “corporate”. It is, after all, one of the reasons we start our own businesses – so we don’t have to follow a bunch of time wasting, unproductive rules; sit in hour after hour of boring, indecisive meetings; or plod through a boatload of “CYA” emails.
And thus it is a bit ironic that the bigger and more successful a business becomes, the harder it is to wrap our arms around the whole thing, and the more critical it is to have some structure.
You may have heard of a phenomenon called the “entrepreneurial glass ceiling”. It’s the point in a business’s growth where the business owner can no longer keep all the plates in the air. Even though it represents success – you made it this far; farther than many others have even dreamed of – you’ll find it beyond hard to go any further with the same lone wolf attitude that got you here.
Pretty much the only way around the glass ceiling is with the installation of some professional management tactics. I’m not saying you have to go corporate. I’m saying your life will be better and your business will grow faster and with greater profits if you open your thinking to some structure.
It’s a very difficult time for many entrepreneurs – and some never make it any further. But let’s assume you’re the open-minded type. You’re willing to try some proven techniques if they’ll help you increase productivity and get unstuck.
First question though is “how do you know you‘re hitting the entrepreneurial glass ceiling?”
Common signs of problems that can likely be solved with good management technique include:
• Your revenues are rising and profits are falling.
• You’re working harder than ever and getting less out of it.
• You authorize an action and nothing happens.
• No one argues with you in a management meeting.
• You can’t take a vacation with the place falling apart.
• Employee turnover is increasing.
• Customer complaints are on the rise.
• You want to ease out of the business but don’t see how.
• Your industry is growing faster than you are.
• Your industry’ average profit margin is higher than yours.
Any and/or all of these things are strong signs that it’s time to shift from a purely entrepreneurial approach to one that will help you build a foundation for growth.
The good news is the two are not mutually exclusive. You can, in fact, shift into a high growth, high profit expansion mode without losing the freedom that makes small business ownership so exciting.
Over the next few weeks I’ll look at each of these challenges and offer some ideas about making the leap from small business to growing company. So, stick with me and share your thoughts in the comments section.