The Biggest Mistakes Companies Make During a Growth Spurt with Tom Hamp
Seasons of growth can be a chaotic time for top-level management. Your customer base is expanding, you’re hiring employees, and you’re trying to navigate new opportunities all while making sure you’re steering your company in the right direction.
We recently sat down with business coach, Tom Hamp of AdviCoach of Mid-Michigan to talk about the biggest mistakes companies make during a growth spurt and how you can apply better practices to avoid them.
Cold Box Films: Introduce yourself! Tell our readers a little more about what you do at AdviCoach of Mid-Michigan.
I help companies by offering transactional and transformational coaching. Transactional meaning, How many calls are you making or how many appointments are you getting? Those types of things. But an area that most people aren't familiar with is the transformational.
A lot of business owner’s heads have to be right in order to move their company forward, so I focus on helping them get rid of the head trash so they can effectively achieve their goals.
Cold Box Films: Why do you think businesses are more likely to make mistakes during a season of growth?
Tom Hamp: Because they didn’t do something before the growth spurt happens.
We’re big advocates at AdviCoach of strategic planning. If you didn’t do that before your growth spurt, then you don’t have the roadmap to guide you through.
And it’s different from a business plan! A strategic plan defines those foundational elements of your business including your priorities, goals, core values, and brand promise. So when you encounter seasons of growth or new opportunities, this plan serves as your ultimate roadmap.
And when you don’t have that roadmap in place, you’re simply running around trying to put out fires without a plan for how you’re going to handle growth and strategically make decisions based on what is truly priority for your business.
Mistake #1: Making decisions that are not based on your priorities or goals.
Cold Box Films: What is the first big mistake you see companies make during a growth spurt?
Tom Hamp: Making decisions that are not based on your priorities or previously set goals.
A lot of times business owners can get into that “bright-shiny-object-syndrome” which is when we take whatever comes in the door we think, “oh that sounds great!” And we get emotional and run with it.
For example, a company may decide to hire a marketing agency just because they had a pretty good pitch, but it wasn’t something they had previously planned for nor does it align with their priorities at the time.
When you start making decisions that are not for the betterment of the company, but rather because you’re simply looking to get something off your plate or you get emotional, that’s when you can start to get off track.
Cold Box Films: How does this hurt them?
Tom Hamp: It hurts them because things become scattered rather than concise. All of a sudden, you're not all in the same car. Then, your employees get this sense of “what’s the next brightest thing?” or “what’s going on?”
I remember doing a training once where an employee raised their hand and said, “you know, is this something we’re concentrating on for 30 days and then we’re going to move on to the next thing?” Red flag.
From an ownership perspective, it’s important that you keep things focused and going in a single direction that is right for your company. You need to concentrate on the priorities you have for that year or quarter.
And when you are making decisions quickly and emotionally, they don’t always help you get to where it is you really want to go.
Cold Box Films: How can they avoid this mistake?
Tom Hamp: You need to slow down to go fast
Take a step back and put things into perspective by forming that strategic plan. Even if that’s asking yourself, “What are my goals and priorities for the next 90 days?”
You need to nail those down so that everyone in the organization knows where you’re going.
When you don’t, you tend to just do what’s in front of you, or whatever is on top of the pile, or whoever comes in the door.
You have to concentrate your efforts on the 3-5 things that are the MOST important to your company because those are the items that will actually propel you forward.
Mistake #2: Not having an organizational chart that defines the roles, responsibilities, and relationships of your staff.
Cold Box Films: What’s the second biggest mistake?
Tom Hamp: Not having an organization chart that clearly defines the roles, responsibilities, and relationships of your team.
This could be something you get away with not having when your business is small and it’s assumed that everyone wears many hats, but once you start to experience growth and the expansion of your team, you need to have a more defined structure in order to stay efficient.
Otherwise, there will be confusion, miscommunication, and tasks won’t get done as well as they should because you don’t have a defined set of goals and responsibilities for each team member (including yourself) that allows everyone to stay in their own lane.
You don’t want to be left in a situation where you’re experiencing growth and your team is looking at each other and asking, “where you doing that” or “was I supposed to do that?” or “who should I be reporting to?”
Cold Box Films: What problems do companies run into when they don’t have a structured organizational chart?
Tom Hamp: Mass communication issues and the underutilization of staff.
There are different personalities in business. Some individuals are more entrepreneurial-types who are really great at going out and selling three jobs but are not so good at following through. And there are some individuals who are really great at being detailed and focusing on process.
It’s important to make sure you’re utilizing your team in a way that they can provide maximum benefits to your business. Which means it doesn’t do you any good to put your process-oriented personalities on sales.
People need to know who is doing what, when, and where. They also don’t appreciate being tossed into unforeseen responsibilities or roles that they may not want to do or know how to do just because your company is growing and there’s more that needs to get done.
Cold Box Films: How can they avoid this mistake? What are some tips you have for creating an effective organizational chart?
Tom Hamp: It’s hard for a small business to hit pause and write up a detailed organization chart because they have so much going on. But again, you need to slow down to go fast.
Steven Covey wrote about the “Time Management Matrix.” As business owners, we spend a lot of time in Quadrants 1 and 3. Quadrant 1 is putting out fires. Quadrant 3 is the busy work. But we don’t spend near enough time in Quadrant 2 which is the planning, focused, strategic side of our business.
But the companies that spend even a small amount of time of Quadrant 2 find that it takes the pressure off because those emergencies that you’re putting out because you’re growing so fast now have a process and a procedure to handle it.
The person picking up the phone to put out a fire goes, “oh, I know exactly what to do.” instead of it being a scramble.
Mistake #3: Holding on too tightly.
Cold Box Films: What’s the third biggest mistake?
Tom Hamp: Holding on too tightly.
When you’ve built a company from the ground up through blood, sweat, and tears, you become very attached to it. It’s your baby!
But often times, business owners get into this mindset that they need to do everything because maybe no one else can do it as well as they can or they don’t trust anyone else to do it.
There’s a saying out there that says, “do your best and pay for the rest.”
Business owners need help and it’s important that they utilize their time wisely. It doesn’t make much sense for the owner of an accounting firm to spend his/her time trying to manage their social media pages (let alone if that’s something they’re not particularly good at). Delegate that task to a company, employee, or contractor who can do that instead and do it better.
You can’t move the needle if you’re spending too much time on tasks that are not at the core of what you need to be doing.
Cold Box Films: How does failure to outsource or delegate hurt companies?
Tom Hamp: Your work hours skyrocket, things don’t get done as well or as efficiently as they should, and you're neglecting the tasks that really need your attention.
It’s difficult to let something go, but it’s absolutely necessary in order to free up your time for more important things.
We give all of our potential clients a book called, “The E Myth” and it talks about letting go of tasks in a way that still allows you to monitor them, which is important!
I seldom hear a client regret outsourcing a task to the right person. More times than none, they come back to us and say, “I wish I would have done this sooner!”
Managing a growth spurt well requires planning beforehand.
Cold Box Films: What advantages can a business coach provide during a period of substantial growth?
Tom Hamp: It provides you with an expert to help you form a solid strategic plan like I mentioned earlier.
And I get a lot of pushback on this because it takes a decent amount of time to form one and most of my client’s look at me and say, “I don’t even have 5-minutes!”
But this allows us to focus on the Quadrant 2 work by mapping out your core values, goals, priorities, processes, and making sure we have a structured plan for seasons of growth before they even happen.
As a business coach, I’m committed to protecting your time.
So I help you:
- Reduce the time you’re committing to your business and ensure you’re doing the priority things in your business.
- Move you back and then offload other tasks you don’t need to be involved with to others who can handle it just as well (if not better).
So when you’re heading towards a growth spurt, YOU and your team are focused on the 3-5 tasks that are of the most importance.
Connect with Tom:
Tom Hamp is a business coach with 29 years of experience with companies such as IBM, Kodak, and Kyocera. Through his work, Tom consistently holds his clients accountable, pushes them to set specific measurable goals, returns focus to plans that are in place and uncovers the true value drivers of their business.
Connect with Tom: