Reorganize your team to move up to the pros

score Question:
I started a business about four years ago and have been trying to grow it, but it is not growing like I originally had planned. I've got sufficient staff, inventory, advertise and send out specials to a preferred customer list, but the business doesn't grow. Any ideas?

Remember when the kids in your neighborhood played ball? You'd decide on the captains, and then alternately pick one kid or another for the teams. As the choices became fewer, team leaders made do with whoever was left. The the positions, pitcher, quarterback, etc. were selected.

Professional sports are different. Each position is carefully defined, then the specialists hunt for the best pick the team's money can buy.

Start-up companies are like neighborhood teams. They often make do with whomever they can get. Maybe mom's pitching in, or the spouse, brother or cousin. Often companies put up with less than perfect hires.

To be successful, you need to emulate professional sports and develop a system for picking the members of your team. To start, sketch out the overall company structure. After that, you can define positions and fill them. Mapping a structure is where an organizational chart is handy. Even if you perform more than one role, say owner and sales manager, it's useful to create a chart for future growth. Here are a few ideas that may help you.

Draw on industry wisdom. You may do it differently, but learn how typical companies are organized. The are usually hierarchical and have these key roles: owner/manager, administration, sales, production, service, etc. Some positions may overlap more than one discipline. As a company grows, department heads should be developed who will form the key direction for the various departments.

Think about the key roles you want to perform. What makes sense at the current size of your company? What fits your philosophy of how to deliver your product or service to the customer? Be sure your chart is expandable over the next few years as your business grows.

Have no more than three or four players report directly to you. Reducing the number of people reporting directly to you cuts down on the work you directly supervise, which creates the next level of supervision and allows it to grow.

Periodically review the structure you've created and make changes as required. Make sure the job descriptions are logical and that someone is in charge of every major function. However, don't overload the company with an organizational structure that costs too much and penalizes the company's growth.

Determine how the people fit the staff positions you've designed. Be objective; if there's a poor fit, could they be trained with the needed skills? Remember, certain jobs need specific talents; if they're not evident, hire a player who has them.

Energize key players. They need to understand the big role beyond the day-to-day jobs, which is to develop systems that create predictable results for the company. Use the organizational structure that you've created along with well-planned meetings, individual coaching and, most important, communicating your vision.

You're making the critical move from neighborhood ball to pro ball. Now go at it and win.

Bill Bryan is a counselor with the Service Corps of Retired Executives. SCORE offers counseling, workshops and seminars on small business operations. You can reach Bryan through SCORE, 515 N Court St. 815-962-0122, for information and appointments.

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