Starting a new business is crazy.

Often, when you start something out, you are solo.

In the incredible new book, Scale or Fail: How to Build Your Dream Team, Explode Your Growth, and Let Your Business Soar, Allison Maslan provides the following 5 Stage framework:

  • Stage 1 -- THE SEEKER: You rule and run the domain. In fact, you are the domain. You create, sell, implement, do and are responsible for everything.
  • Stage 2 -- THE PIONEER: You have one to a small handful of employees. You begin to delegate but are still approving everything that comes in and out of your company.
  • Stage 3 -- THE RINGLEADER: It can feel like a circus at times! You begin building small teams (e.g., admin, custom service, marketing). At this stage, you are really getting clear on your vision. You are leading team meetings and developing systems and processes. You're spread way too thin. People are still not clear on what their roles are.
  • Stage 4 -- THE CO-CREATOR: You begin to recruit or promote team leaders to co-create the solutions and brainstorm the new ideas and opportunities. Your people become just as committed as you to your vision and begin asking: How can we delight our customers? How can we innovate? How can we increase revenue?
  • Stage 5 -- THE VISIONARY: At this stage of the game, they don't need you. You have great people in place who are devoted and committed to the vision. You step back from meetings and stop providing your two cents. You let go of the day-to-day and focus exclusively on the big picture.

Getting out of any of these stages is difficult. And chances are, you as the entrepreneur shouldn't be the one to get yourself out of these stages. 

In psychology, it is clear that every stage of development operates with different rules than the former stages. Every stage has new rules, and you cannot assume the rules of the prior stages will make sense in the new stages. In fact, they most often will NOT make sense. Hence, what got you here won't get you there.

As a young entrepreneur myself, I hired my first full-time employee a little over a year ago. I'd never hired someone before and had no clue what I was doing. 

To say the least, it turned out to be a disaster. It turns out, I'm not very good at building a team. That's not my strength. It is indeed something I could learn. But it would also take me away from all of the other things I'm already doing as an overworked entrepreneur.

After my first blunder and all of the opportunity cost and stress that came from it, I decided to go a different route when building my latest team. 

I've learned a lot from Dan Sullivan, the founder of Strategic Coach, which is considered to be the top entrepreneurial coaching program in the world. One of Dan's core premises is, WHO NOT HOW.

Most entrepreneurs get themselves in trouble by trying to do the HOW instead of getting a WHO to take care of the HOW for them.

With that in mind, instead of trying to do the HOW, I hired a brilliant business strategist and team-builder, Nicole Wipp. Nicole is the founder and CEO of The Results Catalyst, a consulting firm that helps business leaders break the cycles of pervasive energy problems, including burnout and overwhelm.

Specifically, Nicole is brilliant at building teams and helping that team become self-managing. She ensures through her processes that each member of the team should be there and that their role is clear and enabled for success from the beginning. She then hooks them up with systems to ensure they are clear and accountable to their role. 

I hired Nicole like four months ago and it's blown my mind. I should have never tried to build my own teams in the past. There are brilliant WHO's out there who have this specialty.

One of the main things I've gotten out of all of my coaching with Nicole is that me, as the entrepreneur, needs to focus my energy on my highest creative potential. She's helped me reconceptualize my business and myself so as to think about my highest enjoyment and purpose. 

She always challenges my assumptions. I come with an idea and she pushes back hardcore. And I think that is one of the primary purposes of a mentor, to serve as an opposing force to practice against.

That's what I get out of Nicole. I feel like I've been practicing against her the past few months. She serves as a far superior opposing force for me to throw stuff against. To learn against. And she doesn't budge or shows weakness. Yet, as a great mentor, she listens and is empathetic. She's understanding of my weaknesses.

Given that my goal is to scale my current online business, my team is growing and changing. At every stage in my team's development, Nicole has ensured I don't blow up the old system while in the process of transitioning to the new system. This is new for me, as I'm a quick-start focused entrepreneur who often destroys things in the inspiration of my ideas.

Case a point: if you're a new entrepreneur and you want to scale your business and grow your team, focus on WHO not HOW.

Hire someone who knows what they are doing-- someone who understands systems, processes, team dynamics, and also role development. 

This will save you hundreds of hours and potentially millions of dollars. Don't get the wrong people on the bus and don't leave them their longer than they should be. Get someone who will challenge and question you.

Get someone who knows what they're doing.

Published on: Feb 12, 2019
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.