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Leadership Thought #355 – Growth Comes With Its Own Challenges

Business ownership has never been for the faint of heart.  On-going change and adaptability are part of the success equation.  Even when things go well there are problems you will have to navigate.  As you grow, your company and you should be prepared to experience many if not all of the following issues:

  • You will feel out of your depth as the leader and need to significantly invest in your own professional development and/or eventually turn the reigns over to someone else;
  • You will outgrow the capacity of your current people (including family members) to perform in their roles and need to upgrade the talent critical positions (and this may happen several times);
  • You may outgrow the knowledge bandwidth of your current professional service advisors (e.g., tax, legal, IT, etc.);
  • You will go through periods where there is significant pressure on cash flow to catch up with the increased volume and infrastructure building requirements;
  • You will begin hiring more and more people who don’t generate revenue and constitute an overhead expense and this will put increased pressure on margins;
  • Your current bank may not be able to nor want to service your changing financial needs;
  • Your business model will challenged with operational problems regarding scaling up volume and replicating system/processes;
  • You will end up changing your definition of what constitutes an ideal client relationship and may end up having to walk away from clients that served you will in the past;
  • There will be pressures to expand your product/service line and/or expand geographically;
  • Your competition may change and regardless will become more aggressive in their tactics;
  • You will lose the personal connection with your employees and there will come a  point where people are hired that you don’t know and may never really interact with;
  • You will be spending more and more of your time on symbolic leadership and big picture issues and feel far removed from the front lines and day to day operations.

Leadership is about reinvention. Jack Welch says the typical leader needs to reinvent himself/herself every 5-7 year to tackle the new challenges of the role.  You will also be forced to make difficult yet necessary decisions if you want to maintain a trajectory of success.  Of course, you can opt to put the breaks on growth or slow it down and become more of a lifestyle business, but that has its own set of challenges to be discussed in a later blog.  The good news is that many people have blazed the path ahead of you.  There is much you can learn from them and do to tackle these and many other challenges.


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