Every business starts out with an entrepreneurial spirit at its core. It’s critical to building an awesome company, with a compelling product or service. If your business experiences rapid growth, unfortunately that entrepreneurial spirit can ultimately fizzle out. It takes an ongoing commitment from all levels of leadership, and a bit of hard work to make sure that entrepreneurship stays front and center in a business for every employee at every level.
We had another big year in 2014 and grew our operations, our partners, and our team significantly. In 2015, we’ll add more than 40 new employees across our business and continue to drive new growth.
The challenge with growing so fast is maintaining the entrepreneurial spirit while scaling up the business. It is not an easy task but one that pays off with new ideas, happier employees, better solutions for our channel partners, and a brighter future for the business.
Here are five tips for supporting a culture of entrepreneurship as a business grows:
Never take business culture for granted.
Business culture is not something that takes care of itself. It needs to be purposely built, thoroughly understood, and influenced at all levels. It is the senior leadership team’s duty to gain agreement from the team on what the culture should be, and manage and support a culture of entrepreneurship that facilitates the company’s ongoing growth and success.
Remind and reinforce the business’s identity.
A business’s mission and goals will evolve over time but its core value and purpose often stays the same. As the company grows, employees from all departments should be clear on the business’s purpose and its value. This ensures we are focused and all headed in the right direction. At CoreDial, we don’t use old-school vision and mission statements, or hang empty words on a wall. We adopted concepts from the books Good To Great and Great By Choice, by Jim Collins, and created a “hedgehog strategy” that everyone could rally behind. This approach really makes it easy for everyone to focus on common goals, and internalize the vision and put it into action.
Be flexible and recognize where you are as a business.
With our rapid growth, I’m the CEO of a different sized company every year. I need to continue challenging myself to lead at new levels, and focus on helping our team and our channel partners to succeed. Businesses need to think about how they cope with growth, and how or if change is needed to maximize the opportunity for everyone involved. Some team members will continue to grow and evolve, while others will hit ceilings and need coaching on how to handle the growth. Not paying attention to these issues will risk limiting growth and missing opportunities.
Focus and refocus roles.
As a business gets bigger, there needs to be a refocusing of roles so that it can maintain its agility and make sure that the right people are focusing on the right areas. Often in entrepreneurial businesses, employees have multiple responsibilities, but that may have to change. If so, employees should focus on where they can be most successful and contribute the most, while still having the opportunity to learn and grow. As long as their core areas of responsibility are going well, employees will flourish if given the opportunity to expand their horizons and realize the feeling of accomplishment.
It is not just about hiring smart people.
Good businesses hire smart people, but more important they hire smart people who lead, inspire and innovate and change the business for the better. Employees should be challenged to understand the culture, apply their skills and make the most of the opportunity, and be willing to help others to succeed. Some of the best people make everyone around them better. Of course there are smart people who protect their knowledge and don’t share with others, and often they are not keepers. Smart employees willing to share and collaborate are often the best performers in a business.
The entrepreneurial spirit that many businesses are founded on can scale. It is about taking a proactive role in shaping business culture to maintain that spirit. As we’ve seen at CoreDial, it isn’t always easy but it is well worth it in the end.