Sixty-six percent of small business owners plan to grow their business in the next five years, according to the 2015 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report. Major growth can be a time of great excitement at a company of any size, but it can also usher in a period of tumult for business leaders and employees. Protocols that once fit the organization might no longer work or need to be wholly re-envisioned, the talent pool may be over-stretched or expanding rapidly and feeling disjointed, and strategies that were first created when the company was smaller could prove themselves to be anything but one size fits it.
During these intense transitions, business coaching can help a growing company weather the storm - and come out stronger. "What I have learned is that systems have different levels and each level has their own rules of what works and does not work," Dr. Ichak Kalderon Adizes, president of the Adizes Institute, wrote on the Huffington Post.
Just as the tools employed during individual therapy sessions may fall flat during couples counseling, business leaders should be prepared to rethink their toolkit as the business grows.
"Business leaders should be prepared to rethink their toolkits as the business grows."
The Power of perspective
A business coach can help you develop the skills and prioritization you'll need to run the business at the size it's going to become. But coaches can also play another crucial role as you navigate these unchartered waters: being a possible voice of dissent.
"Too many business owners build their businesses in isolation, lacking the outside perspective and feedback from an experienced mentor," writes David Finkel, co-author of Scale: Seven Proven Principles to Grow Your Business and Get Your Life Back on Inc. magazine.
It is unrealistic - and sometimes unfair - to rely on your employees to play devil's advocate or cheerleader for every idea that you have to expand and reshape the business. Yet what you'll need during this time of uncertainty and growth is exactly that: someone to question your assumptions, point out any holes in your vision or strategies, and objectively assess which skills you need to strengthen in order to succeed. And, unlike your best employees who might have never worked with a rapidly growing organization, a business coach can speak from experience about what you'll need to make it through this anxiety-pocked transition and what you'll need after.
"What I get out of having a business coach is that my coach has run and worked with so many companies that they've seen every situation," Jeff Hoffman, cofounder of Priceline.com and Finkel's coauthor told him. "So when I don't even know how to handle a new situation, my coach says, 'Don't worry about it. I've seen this pattern a dozen times. Here's how to best handle it.'" To a business leader with big ambitions in the midst of growing pains, those can be welcome words indeed.