How to Scale Your Company By Shifting From Talent to Systems

 

Eventually you can’t count on superhero employees and have to deploy systems if you want to scale.

In the earliest days of most companies, entrepreneurs can’t afford the systems that exist in bigger companies. Instead, entrepreneurs rely on hiring super-talented people skilled in doing everything from serving clients and delivering products to closing the books.

It’s critical in these early days to ensure that every new hire adds massive value, which sometimes means you have to overpay someone to ensure that they will get the job done.

Many times this means that entrepreneurs will hire people they know well, perhaps a college roommate or life-long friend. These people believe and are willing to take the risk to join an early stage company. And they are committed – willing to work the hours needed to and make the sacrifices to achieve great things.

The problem is that you can’t continue to grow your business based on a strategy of hiring only superstar A-player employees and extraordinary efforts. It’s just not sustainable to count on hiring unicorn after unicorn and on superhuman efforts.

Many leaders don’t realize when this is an issue. They keep going back to the market trying to find talent that can fill the bill. Sometimes they can and sometimes they can’t. But this is like beating your head against the wall – it usually feels better when you stop.

Other entrepreneurs know exactly when they hit this stage in the evolution of their business: it’s when you try to hire on someone to replace a superstar who has left the business. You suddenly realize that, after you have burned through two or three or even more candidates, that you will never be able to find someone as good again. You’ve hit a key constraint.

But what does that mean for your business?

You now need to shift from running your business based on talent to running it based on systems. This is the very definition of a scalable company.

Larger companies rely on systems precisely because top talent is scarce and expensive. It’s simply impossible to stock a company full of superstars. What you need to do is create systems that empower your normal talent – your B players – to perform above their weight class.

Take the example of building a sales team. Superstar sales people cost a fortune, if you can even find any. But if you invest in a sales system – something that focuses on building leads, marketing, and producing sales literature – you can help people with solid sales skills perform at high levels.

Another great example is a fast food restaurant that is a symphony of movement and actions to create a uniform result. They do this globally – with the product and experience being the same in Beijing and Dubuque. And the amazing part is that they do it with marginally motivated personnel and huge turnover.

When you can build systems like this rather than relying entirely on talent, you can truly begin to scale your business nationally and globally.

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