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‘Dem Bones’

‘Dem Bones’

The bones are what support the body. The bones are the structure or foundation that the muscles, tendons and other organs rely on to produce the beautiful movements of the ballerina. Without the structure, the ballerina would simply be a mass of organic matter piled on the ground. Not a great picture eh?

Well, the same is true with businesses that start out with one or more team members. Everyone at that point is the janitor, the account, the supply chain manager and tech support. This season of everyone doing multiple jobs while bootstrapping the business is great at the start except that within a couple of years there is confusion, frustration and a complete lack of clear roles and responsibilities.

Good bones as an enabler for growth

After sitting through many startup presentations over the last few years, one of the most glaring weak points of their pitches and proposals for funding is the lack of structure that they have in place.  It is great to have a small team that is passionate about the new app, product or service that they are bringing to market but passion is not enough for long-term growth.

While it is great to be focused on refining the product or service that you are trying to sell to the market, don’t overlook how important it is to sit down with your team and review the bones of the business. You may be surprised to find that although you have a business plan (most likely collecting dust) the realities of the day-to-day operations have dictated that roles and responsibilities have shifted away from that plan. The shift away from your business plan causes most enterprises to go into a reactionary mode compared to a proactive mode because they have not made adjustments.

Take time to sit down during your board or company meeting to review your organizational charts:

  • Is the org structure current?
  • Is it still applicable given your current circumstances?
  • Does the Org chart need to be expanded and new roles filled?
  • What is the current level of utilization for each team member? For example, is someone maxed out with one role but expected to fill multiple roles?
  • Is it time to bring on part-time or full-time help? What is the expected period when additional help is needed?
  • Are all your business units or departments represented in your organizational chart?
  • Does each unit or department have appropriate staffing/ team members assigned?
  • Will the current structure support us in 2-5 years of growth or do we need to start adding roles?

The reason that I recommend the 2-5-year horizon is that business owners and managers should be looking to have the bones in place or ready to grow with the business over a 2-5-year window. I know that business plans and org charts that project out that far will change which is why your plans or structure needs to be flexible and reviewed on a regular basis. The reason that your plans will need to be adaptable is that there are too many factors that will make your business either grow faster or slower than the current 2-5-year plan. However, using a 2-5 year horizon should reveal what your staffing, support, and financing needs will be.  – Your bones to support your business.

Coach’s wrap up

Failing to plan is planning to fail (Alan Lakein) …. Not putting the proper bones in place to support the business will at best limit your ability to execute and grow. At worst, it will cause your enterprise to have to step backward, regroup, resolve self-inflicted wounds, and then try to regain lost ground.

If you have questions about reviewing the bones of your enterprise (larger or small, does not matter), reach out to me and let’s discuss what you have going on.


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