Alacrify Ltd

Managing Business Growth


15th September 2009

Managing Business Growth

The challenges of growing as a company have been occupying my mind over the past few weeks.

Since we decided to recruit staff to cope with our expanding portfolio of work and clients I've been spending my time juggling the complex demands of inducting and training Pete and Stefan, planning work schedules, sorting out the extra admin that employment brings, and doing work too.

I suspect that this is always the case for businesses in our position. Certainly other friends and colleagues who've made this transition sympathise with a wry smile and offer encouragement like "it'll never be this hard again".

I am sure that there will be a point in time when it all begins to feel a bit more normal; when the decision-making and allocation of tasks isn't worked out from first principles every time (can x do this, or should y, do this or should I just do it?). I'm equally sure that there will be a point when each new piece of work won't involve a lengthy preamble to introduce the client, the project, the work planned and future goals. Thankfully both Pete and Stefan are bright and quick on the uptake and so these conversations are usually reasonably brief as they quickly grasp what is required.

The biggest transition and change in mentality (and the one that is hardest to grasp) is the change from "I'll do that" to "he'll do that". My pre-employee mindset has been "I'll sort that out for you", holding all the facts, ideas, plans, projects and long term strategy in my head. Now I'm learning to empty my head of all these things, and put them into a shared working space or onto the desk of Stefan or Pete. Delegation is such a short word for such a complicated process!

The trickiest bit of this process of delegation is with the "little" pieces of work that come our way as part of the regular maintenance of many of the sites we support. In these cases it will often take longer to do the introductions and set up the means to do the work as it will to do the work. For the first time anyway.

It is a real battle in my mind and conscious act of will to make sure that I do hand over these pieces of work too though. The training and induction overhead is something we're prepared to absorb as part of the growth of Alacrify, but it is still requires very conscious act of will to make it happen day-to-day. Every instinct still says "I could just sort that out", and replacing that with "I will delegate that" is a continuing challenge.

These growth issues are ones we welcome. Hearing the about the latest unemployment figures and company closures makes me realise how fortunate we are to be in a period of growth. Being able to take on staff and develop as a business is a great privilege and pleasure which I don't take for granted, however challenging the growing pains may be.

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