One of the things you quickly learn about running a small rapidly growing business is that the sooner you do something, the sooner its impact is felt. Moreover, the ability to do something and then see the result is part of the appeal. Anyone stuck in a Dilbert cartoon in their current place of work will have long forgotten the joys of cause and effect.
It therefore amuses me when I hear some would-be entrepreneurs say they’d like to start their new business when the time is right and that they are just waiting for all the stars to properly align. In many ways it would be better to just get on with it; action this day!
“Fail fast” (“fail often”, “fail forward”) is the gung-ho American Silicon Valley mantra. Whilst failure itself may not be the best tactic, getting on with it and finding out what works and what doesn’t most certainly is. Entrepreneurs need to make many decisions every day, some of them really quite crucial for their business. The skill is making the balanced decision rather than vacillating endlessly for fear that it will turn out to be the wrong decision.
And decisions tend to go hand-in-hand with actions as new courses are set. This agility often leaves larger corporations floundering, and is precisely why disruptions in the market place frequently originate from small medium enterprises spotting an opportunity, deciding to pursue it and responding quickly. This is the entrepreneur’s competitive edge.
It is a double-edged sword, as putting the wrong foot forward through an ill-informed decision could of course trip the whole venture up. The good news is that another quick decision to change course can save the day. And that’s the key; make a choice, do something, review, do some more of the same or do something different all in quick succession with the facts at your fingertips.
The trick is to keep this ethos of fast decision making and rapid response well oiled as your company grows. When it is just you, perhaps a co-founder and a handful of employees, it is easy. But as your company expands and you want to empower your managers to be as nimble-minded with their day-to-day operations, you’ll need them to understand the workings of the business and have any past lessons you learnt accessible to them as they move forward.
It generally boils down to good, frequent communication and centralised, accessible information. And a company structure that promotes this. If this isn’t already in place in your organisation, simply decide to make the change and roll it out today!
Start to Exit is due to be published in 2017.