Most young entrepreneurs and businesses rely on themselves for the majority of heavy lifting and key decision making when operating their companies. The idea of being able to afford key people, as well as delegating authority, usually takes quite some time to achieve. But after 10 to 15 years of running the business, and growing and competing for customers and staff, most owner operators are looking for help - and they also have the dollars to actually add help.
Now when I say “help,” it’s not the kind of help you already have. It’s the kind you don’t. I’m referring to managerial assistance, or, simply put, having another person in the business that can do what you do.
The list of what it takes to manage a small business is long: selling, handling customers, hiring and firing staff or subcontractors, buying materials and equipment, looking for another yard, meeting with your accountant, overseeing field operations and the countless other tasks you can’t imagine someone else doing on your behalf. But without adding a management team to help you tackle the rigors of operating a small business, your ability to grow and to enjoy that growth move further and further apart.
Choosing a team
Employing a management team is a significant achievement for any owner operator who started with one customer and grew their business to the point where dozens or even hundreds of customers, staff and other providers rely on them. Accepting the idea that making important decisions about the business will become a shared responsibility is huge.
But the time a key manager can provide for a business owner is worth more than making more money to most business owners who achieve this level of success. So how do you start the process to add a key person to help you manage the business?
1. Select the person or people who will become your team. Often they come from within the company; after all, who knows you or the business better? Plus, rewarding hardworking staff members that have helped you get this far is often viewed as the right choice by other employees.
2. Determine where this person will function as manager. This probably depends on the areas where you need the most help as well as the areas where you have the most competent people who can be promoted to manage.
In most companies three major areas require a leader or manager: sales, operations and administration. You likely have held all of these spots and are probably very strong in one or two of them; however, having a committed, experienced individual in each spot is powerful. Prior to having these areas managed, you ordinarily would suffer in some capacity. Either a great deal of time would be lost to opportunity or great costs would be incurred because things didn’t get handled in a timely, organized way.
Under each of these areas there are several subcategories, but if a small business has truly competent, committed management in these three key functions, a lot of the demand to run the business has been met. Also, by having these slots filled you have an opening for controlled growth for you, the owner, to enjoy. As your company grows, more leadership and management positions enter into play. Eventually, like yourself, your key managers will grow to where they, too, need to add leadership under each part of the company’s departments.
Because you have built the business to a level where key managers can effectively make decisions without you, you have a greater ability to get the company firing on all cylinders simultaneously, putting you in a strong position to influence the biggest obstacles or opportunities facing the business. With having the advantage of management handling key responsibilities, new goals can be set and reached for you and the company.
I think back to when I finally got out of operations on a routine basis, and this was after originally getting out of the primary sales role. It was a whole new world. More than anything, it meant I could commit time to developing my best opportunity - myself.
The ability to enroll in industry and business training and events was paramount. I could work on the business. I was able to gain knowledge and insight from other business owners and consultants I’d bring in to work on a particular aspect of the company. This was time consuming and often an added expense, but ultimately it was what we needed organizationally to move the company forward.
By assuming the role of leader and no longer acting as a full-time manager, the business was in the position to reach its full potential. Whether it was finding key people to help us take on more work, winning more sales or making a strategic purchase of a competitor, the freedom to choose and leverage opportunity was a whole new ballgame for us.
Then, the opportunity to develop my managers, and, in turn, have them develop their direct reports allowed the organization to really reach out.
If you’re like most business owners who have assembled a company with much hard work and no formal business plan, one bit of advice I can lend in figuring out these key positions, and the necessary structure required to support them, is to be active in your industry trade associations. Many resources are available once you’re an active member.
Additionally I would recommend seeking companies outside of your geographic area that will let you visit their operation. Inquire about industry and business consultants who can help guide you in specific areas of your company. What you are attempting to frame out is an organizational structure that is affordable, highly functional and infinitely scalable.
Making it to the level where your business requires a management team is a big milestone. Congratulations to everyone who has made it this far or is on their way to operating with a management team.
Mike Rorie has been a participant in the snow
and ice industry for over three decades. He is now a supplier to the industry as the CEO of GIS Dynamics, parent company to Go iLawn and Go iPave. Contact him t firstname.lastname@example.org.