It has been said many times that change is life’s only constant. This is as true of the world of business as it is of life. Founders of start-ups find that, as their businesses grow and mature, so does the nature of their involvement. In much the same way as a parent’s role goes from hands-on and completely involved with the minutiae of their children’s lives, to a more detached (though equally engaged) approach, so too does a founder’s relationship with her company.
After all, a start-up is its founder’s ‘baby’. It is crucial to a company’s growth and to its founder’s career path that every start-up ‘parent’ re-evaluate and recalibrate the scope and nature of her involvement. So what exactly does this process of re-evaluation comprise, and what fruits does it yield?
Manager: As a start-up company grows and its workforce expands, role-definition becomes inevitable. From being just the person who does it all, or who ‘co-does’ it all, you become the head of a proliferating team.
This juncture, which occurs early on in the start-up journey, is critical. Your dream of founding a company has been realized, but it has also given rise to a whole new set of responsibilities that require you to hone a whole new skill-set. Your work now doesn’t revolve only around product development: it entails an administrative component as well that will effectively turn you into a start-up manager.
Facilitator: Now that you’re less embroiled in the nitty-gritty of product design and development, your focus will shift to broader concerns—such as generating new business leads and widening your customer base.
Additionally, you will have to figure out the key engines of your business, such as customer service, and ensure that the teams that have been assigned to oil and maintain those engines are functioning in a manner that is consistent with your work culture and projects your company’s ideals.
To this end, you will also be responsible for fostering an environment that is conducive to creativity among your employees. You will thus find yourself faced with opportunities to facilitate growth both within and without the organization.
Advocate: From having a finger in every pie, you have gone to managing operations on a broader scale. Externally, this has involved acquiring new clientele, while internally it has focussed your attention on quality control.
This work doesn’t necessarily come to a stop, but you will be branching out even further now, as your company’s chief advocate and cheerleader. This involves building visibility and raising your company’s profile, which can range from promoting your company at industry events and establishing contact with the press and media.
You’re not just schmoozing: you’ll be capitalizing on the interest you generate in business circles to cinch extremely valuable deals and to show up on potentials clients’ radar.
Pioneer: Some argue that founders do their best work when founding. They’re pioneers, happiest when exploring new territory and breaking new ground. In a way, it’s like coming full-circle: getting a start-up running and growing and then going back to square one, which is to start a new business.
That may or may not be your next step. If it is, though, you won’t be the first to take it. Change is a constant for businesses as well as for the people who establish them. So when the time comes, be sure as the business owner you are ready to adapt with the growth of your business.