Leaders who recognize they are ready to engage in growth and take next steps to expand their businesses, cannot expect such a change will be successful without first taking time to examine what lies before them.

Consider one of my clients and their preparation for expansion:

The CEO and the President of a company that generates $25 million in annual revenue, recently decided to embark on a five-year strategic growth period to realize $100 million in annual revenue.

They knew their goal was ambitious, they also knew achieving it was at the core of their heartfelt desires.

Conversations between the two leaders, who have been best friends since childhood, determined that company growth would be fueled in two parallel paths:

  • Organic growth through continued new product development
  • Acquisition of other companies within their market

During the strategic planning process, one theme that consistently surfaced for them was, “We don’t want to change our cultural make-up.”

Some of the questions they contemplated during the process included:

  • “How can we maintain our culture when we hire more people to support the growth?”

Consideration: Determine and declare our Top 3-5 values and priorities in work and in life and ensure that we hire people who share these values.

  • “How do we ensure that the people who are already with us feel secure with the world as they know it, that it won’t change drastically?”

Considerations: Include them in the entire planning process. Be open and honest in communications regarding expectations of what will stay the same and what will change.

  • “This company is like family. Can we maintain such close-knit relationships?”

Consideration: Relationships can be maintained, and there needs to be communication, sharing, and mutual agreement around how. Determine what is most important currently and ensure people do not sacrifice or compromise on these mutual terms of relatedness.

  • “Should the growth impede the freedom of access to the CEO and the president that currently exists?”

Consideration: Growth is likely to impede access and on some level, it should. As the company grows, the demands on its leaders from internal and external stakeholders will change and increase, meaning there will be less percentage of their time to go around. It’s part of the evolution of an organization.

  • “How do we ensure the new people hired will feel part of the ‘family’ culture, reinforcing current values?”

Consideration: Ensure our hiring process is thorough and complete. Consider doubling the usual time spent with each prospective new ‘family member’ so that we get to know him or her before we hire. Ensure our on-boarding process and orientation lasts for 6 to 9 months as we welcome/integrate new hires.

  • “How do we ensure our tenured people welcome new people into the ‘family,’ rather than become jealous and threatened?”

Consideration: Engage current “family” members in all aspects of the hiring and integration process so they get to know each candidate and have a stake in whom is hired and how he or she is on-boarded.

Alexander Graham Bell once said, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” Great leaders: take time to examine where you are and where you want to be, then chart your course for success.

The choice is yours!

Stuart Friedman is president of Progressive Management Associates. He is a business visionary who guides organizations through cultural shifts. He promotes environments that inspire collaboration, transparency in the pursuit of strategic outcomes and heart-felt desires. Reach Stuart via email: stuart@pma-co.com