The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “What are some tips for maintaining a successful startup?” s written by Jeff Reid, founding director of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship
Initiative at Georgetown University.
To me, maintaining a startup is a bit of an oxymoron. I’m of the philosophy — from the school of thought of Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur Steve Blank — that startups are inherently temporary organizations. Once you have achieved growth and discovered a scalable business model, you are no longer a startup. You are a growth company.
With that shift, success depends on a few key lessons to keep your company growing. Here are three big ones:
Trust your employees
As the founder, you have to spend more time working on the business and less time in the business. You are no longer in charge of product development, marketing and sales. Now is the time to delegate to others. Founder’s syndrome — not being able to let go of every aspect of the organization — is a real thing. Sometimes founders fall into helicopter mode, hovering over the organization’s every move. If this happens, two negative things can result: the founder quickly burns out or the rest of the team feels discounted when making decisions.
You have to find good people, and then you have to trust them.
You also have to change your work structure by building systems, layers and departments. It’s a bit of a paradox: entrepreneurs are, by nature, disruptive and innovative. When the startup is successful in becoming a growth company, you have to be disciplined.
Starting a company and growing a company require different types of leadership. You might be able to adapt, but often it is smarter to stick to your strengths and find others with complementary strengths.
Find strategic partners
As the startup grows, you may to have to change who has your ear. Chances are, you have some advisors who helped you get to where you are, and they may continue to be helpful. You also should seek out new advisors who are uniquely qualified to help you through this next phase.
Similarly, it is important to choose partners carefully. Now that you are beyond the initial startup phase, bigger companies are more likely to want to work with you. You no longer are the upstart fighting for attention. Don’t let the excitement of moving from the proverbial kid’s table to the adult dining room keep you from negotiating carefully and finding a pace of growth that fits your industry and your goals.
Stick to your vision
As the company grows, remember who you are and why you do what you do. Don’t lose yourself in the business. Although startups and companies evolve and grow, it is important to stay true to both your core values and those of the organization.
Take care of yourself. For the company to be sustainable, you
have to be sustainable. Manage your close relationships. Constantly reflect on where you are and where you want to go.
Everyone has limitations. Address yours and accurately identify
your own limits. On the flip side, know your strengths and focus on the areas where you shine. Leaders in the company may come and go, but there will never be another founder.
Building a startup is really hard, and once your company begins to take off, it doesn’t get easier. It requires a balance for which
there is no formula. But, if you are able to evolve, surround yourself with the right people, and stay true to your purpose, it can be a rewarding, life-changing ride.