Six Ways to Smooth Your Startup's Growth Path

This article was originally published on Forbes.com.

What do you need besides great ideas and smart people in order for your startup business to reach the next level? If you want to develop from a young team into a mature, effective organization, it’s not enough to simply hire bright people and have a great product. When teams grow quickly and without active direction, you can end up with a random assortment of people who, on paper, have all the bases covered but who underperform due to diverging agendas, groupthink, lack of focus or burnout. Instead of crossing your fingers and hoping for the best, you can take charge of the direction in which your business is heading. Here are six ways you can smooth your growth path.

1. Refine your culture.

Culture is driven from the top down, so the tone of the company starts with you. Work with your team to develop your company values, publicize what they are, and define how they apply to your organization. For example, does valuing transparency mean that you will be open about decision making? Will you publish company salaries? Be specific. Most importantly, walk the walk: Make sure your actions are true to your stated values and hold others accountable to them, as well.

2. Cultivate good management practices.

If you want to avoid dissatisfaction and rapid turnover, you need to commit to, develop and maintain a practice of strong management. Invest in your leaders so that there is structure, as well as an environment fostering growth for your employees. And remember that domain expertise does not equal management ability. It is difficult to stress this enough: Don’t put someone in charge of their own team without training and supporting them as a manager.

3. Focus.

If you’re pivoting every month, you’re really just generating chaos. No one likes to jump through hoops for no reason. If you’re addicted to adrenaline, if you like to “shoot first, then aim,” you are probably in danger of burning out your people. Employees who tire of this will self-select out, leaving those who thrive in chaos to continue in the turbulence.

4. Communicate.

Avoid disconnected agendas. Be clear with yourself, your managers and your employees about the organization’s direction and priorities. Over-communicating is far better than under-communicating and the higher your business’ velocity, the more frequently you will need to make sure everyone is on the same page.

5. Seek diversity.

Bringing in people who look, sound and dress differently is not about being politically correct; there is real value in diversity. Dissimilar backgrounds, ages and viewpoints provide broader perspectives, necessitate clarity of communication and minimize groupthink. Understand your strengths and add people to your leadership team who complement them -- then make sure to build and maintain a well-rounded team of individual contributors.

6. Have fun, but be an adult.

As your business grows, you may be worried about becoming stuffy and losing that hip, small company feel. But if your organization lacks discipline and accountability because you’re afraid of being uncool, you aren’t doing anyone any favors. People have fun when they’re achieving; the best thing you can do for your business is lead it to success.

The Bottom Line

A smart team and solid business model are a great start. Providing direction, focus and support for your organization will get you the rest of the way.


© 2018 Jennine Heller and J Heller Coaching. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennine Heller and J Heller Coaching with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.