Your success took you by surprise. Some luck, some judgement and a lot of hard graft gave you a phase of bountiful organic growth as the growing pains of the newco passed and you gained scale.
And here you are.
You have offices, warehouses, employees. Where once you had an accountant and a Facebook page you now have a finance director and a social media manager. You are now leader to tens or perhaps hundreds of people. No-one knows this business better than you and the team you built it with. All the social media experience in the world cannot rival your knowledge of how this business works.
And then things get difficult.
You’ve had to recruit a salesforce, a team of designers, a quality manager. But only you know what your customers really value, which designs work with them, where the fat really sits in the margin line. Where once you could interview everyone yourself and recruit just the right cultural fit, now this and lots of other things have to be delegated. You can’t be everywhere at once to make sure it’s all being done right. And even with all these great people and ideas and investment, sales aren’t flowing in as fast as before. Growth is beginning to tail off.
Perhaps it happened at £10m or at £150m. Perhaps it hasn’t happened yet (can you feel it coming?). It might have provided the trigger for outside investment or you might still be coping on profit and debt. Whichever the model, there will be challenges and complexities around direction, alignment and capability.
“Do it this way” the new shareholders say, or the advertising agency says, or your newly recruited Commercial Director says.
“But it’s by doing it the other way that we built this business” you say “We’re not going to change our success formula! That would be crazy!”
Or worse: they all stand around you nodding – “yes sir, great idea sir!” they salute, basking in the warm glow and admiration of your success and chiefdom, whilst the turnover continues to slow, the cash flow continues to tighten.
So where do you go from here?
You need to reach adulthood - true maturity - without losing the very essence of what made you brilliant in the first place. Without becoming process-driven and siloed and sluggish and sleepy like all those big corporates whose lunch you nicked on the way up when you were lean and feisty and challenging.
Having worked with companies of various shapes and sizes, I've developed a real soft spot for that acne-prone, hormonally charged teenage business and I’ve developed a powerful toolkit for supporting owner-managers and leadership teams through that ‘difficult adolescence’.
So if your brand looks mature, competent, even swaggeringly confident on the outside, but you know that you need a little guidance and nurturing to get to the next level of development and growth, let’s talk it over.