“Your Move — 5 Truths About Growth”

I believe our economic well-being depends on increasing the number of growth companies. Growing companies create jobs, and jobs help create self-sufficient people in healthy communities. But growth has both a dark side and a silver lining. To help you find the positive aspects of growing your business, I’d like to share my five truths:

  1. Growth can be scary. Growing your business means taking risks — and moving outside your comfort zone can be scary. But to grow, you have to take your company in new directions. There are times when you may find yourself on the razor’s edge between success and failure. A good leader has to be able to face down the demons of growth — and prevail. Ask yourself if you are psychologically equipped to lead your employees on the roller coaster of growth.
  2. Growth will require you to change. At each stage of development, you will have to take on new sets of leadership roles. You must delegate roles to others and keep asking the question, "What are the things only I can do?" Your answer needs to change each time your company moves to a new stage of development. One way to learn more about the changes you have to make is to talk with those who are further along on their entrepreneurial journey: Join a CEO group, find a mentor, and read books and articles.
  3. Growth needs organizational support. A company cannot sustain growth if it does not have the necessary infrastructure. One of your roles as leader is to develop the six components that drive organizational growth — culture, people, plans, top team, infrastructure and leadership.
  4. Growth is all about the people. It’s your people who help you execute the plan and achieve the goals that will determine whether and how fast the company will grow. Find and hire awesome people — don’t settle for warm bodies. Reward high performers who share your goals and values. Get rid of those who don’t. Create opportunities for employees to grow and develop within your company, and let them know how much you need and value them.
  5. Growth is a long-term goal. Don’t get swept up in "growth for growth’s sake." Set one-year, three-year and five-year goals with your team, and share them with employees. Stay true to your mission. Make decisions based on ethics and values. Treat employees, customers, suppliers and vendors as you’d like to be treated. And remember your responsibility to "give back" to the communities that enabled you to be successful.

Don’t be afraid to grow. If you can face down the demons of growth, take on new roles and responsibilities, hire great people and build an awesome organization, your odds of building a successful growth company are high — and the impact on our economy will be enormous.

Writer: Jana Matthews is president of Boulder Quantum Ventures and coauthor of "Leading at the Speed of Growth: Journey from Entrepreneur to CEO" (Hungry Minds, 2001).