5 ways to ease your company’s growing pains

1. Recognize that management is a skill

Evernote’s Phil Libin observes that, in startups, managing is viewed as a less important activity when people with real skills are working. As Libin has relied on professional man­agers to scale his company, he says: “I’ve realized there is a lot of wisdom in things I used to roll my eyes at.”

2. Hire a rock star COO

It makes sense for young companies to emphasize product development and sales over operations, says author Robert Sher. But in adolescence, it’s important to hire early–and support loudly – a COO who loves operations and loathes sloppiness. Sher says: “Customers have to be sure you can deliver.”

3. Get comfortable saying no

“It’s tempting during adolescence to keep taking any job that comes your way,” says Highpoint Global founder Ben Lanius. However, when you draw firm limits, he adds, “you are respected more by your customers – and it gives employees a really good sense of who you are.”

4. Be ruthlessly focused on repeating yourself

Startups are project-based, explains Princeton professor Derek Lidow. But new projects can be an unreliable route to real growth. He says: “you have got to get out of that mode of doing everything differently, and turn to repetitive sets of tasks performed by people that become more and more expert in them.”

5. Understand that it’s not do or die

If you lack a clear strategy for traversing “no man’s land,” there’s nothing wrong with staying put. Author Doug Tatum states: “It is perfectly legal, ethical, and common sense for you to stay small – and make money.”

Adrian Leer

Managing Director - Triad

"MD2MD provides an invaluable opportunity for me to learn from my peers, for me to road-test my thinking in a safe environment, and for me to keep developing my leadership skills. "
View full case study

Bob Bradley

Bob is a specialist in running high value added service businesses, having run five such businesses as General Manager, Managing Director or Chief Executive. His last employed role was as Chief Executive of a £16M, 200 person family owned business having previously been Chief Executive of an AIM listed company for which he raised £5M funding and which he grew from £4M to £12M in three years through two acquisitions and organic growth, and a corporate PLC subsidiary where he was Managing Director responsible for delivering £10M profit on £45M turnover through 450 staff.

Bob is now following a portfolio career providing entrepreneurial business leaders with mentoring and coaching around business leadership, business growth, merger integration and exit planning.

Core to his portfolio is MD2MD. Having experienced for himself the value of having a strong sounding board of fellow Managing Directors he founded MD2MD in 2004 to provide groups of business leaders with a confidential environment within which they can support and challenge each other to raise their game as leaders and by doing so improve the success of their organisation.

More about Bob