The Growing Pains of Growth

Many business owners and entrepreneurs have either a sales or some type of technical background. Oftentimes, they know a particular industry very well. Entrepreneurs typically want things done in their own way. They may be more intelligent or have better intuition than their subordinates, who come to rely on their leader’s “omnipotence.” Typical entrepreneurs tend to be doers, rather than managers and most have not had formal management training, although they may be voracious readers, keep up with current management best-sellers, or read regularly about their industry. They like to be free of corporate constraints so they often reject or dislike meetings, written plans, detailed organization of time, and budgets and view these things as the trappings of bureaucracy. More problematically, they think “we got here without those things, so why do we need them now?”

Unfortunately, as an organization grows and develops (and growth is what most business owners tell us they want), the nature of the organization changes because with growth comes change. But the people, particularly senior management, must also change in order to get to the next level and be successful. The owner-entrepreneur can deal with this imperative for change in one of several ways:

  • Try to develop new skills and behavior patterns – difficult but possible if he or she is truly committed to making change.
  • Restructure the organization and bring in more professional management to run the organization. This can include the current owner/CEO and other key management staff.
  • Transition the owner/CEO to chairperson or another role that does not involve day to day running of the organization.
  • Continue to operate as before and ignore the problems, hoping they’ll evaporate, or wait for the magic bullet solution to growth and change.
  • Develop an exit strategy that focuses on selling the company, retire or start the next entrepreneurial venture.

Founders/entrepreneurs typically experience great difficulty in relinquishing control of their businesses. There is no one pattern or perfect plan for a successful transition from an entrepreneurship to a professionally-managed company. Whatever path is followed, the key to a successful change is for the entrepreneur to recognize that a new stage in the company’s lifecycle has been reached and that the former mode of operation will no longer be effective.

That’s why we start with Assessments as the first phase in taking clients through the BDS SMARTGrowth Process ™. Not only do we want to thoroughly understand the needs and desires of the business owner, we also want to evaluate the severity of the growing pains the company is going through. We administer a version of the Growing Pains Questionnaire, originally developed in the 1980s by Eric Flamholz, author of “How To Make the Transition From an Entrepreneurship to a Professionally Managed Team.” Administered to randomly selected managers and employees, this simple questionnaire provides us with meaningful insights as to the areas within your organization that need the most attention as we begin to co-create a growth vision.

Download the “Growing Pains Questionnaire”