When you think about starting a business, all you’re focused on is getting it off the ground. How will you launch? Where will you find your first customers? There are business plans, fundraising decks, hiring and an endless stream of advice. But the thing that no one really prepares you for, and is furthest from your mind at the time, is this: What do you do when your crazy little idea takes off?
Enter the second, and much more complex, phase of building your brand: scaling. Let me be clear, I’m not an expert in this topic, but I’m slowly learning. Monica + Andy is in the midst of an exciting growth phase. But with expansion comes change that affects every aspect of your business.
I started my company with a small, passionate team of people who were doing all the jobs, all at once. But now, everyone has to sharpen their focus. We have the opportunity to bring on new team members with very specific expertise and experience. The key to surviving this transition is creating very specific job descriptions. It may seem obvious, but it’s important to set expectations for every person on your team — new and old. As new people come in, those big and broad jobs start to break into smaller, more narrowly defined roles. By creating and aligning job descriptions, your growing team will have a better understanding of how they fit into the new dynamic and be the most effective.
Properly conveying my goals and ideas to the rest of my team at this stage of the game is critical, too. I’m constantly checking in with team members, gauging how they’re feeling about things and making sure they’re clear on their roles.
In the early days, our motto was quick and nimble. But eventually those meetings started to last longer and longer, and what worked when there were three people no longer works for a team of 15. That’s why we’re now starting to experiment with a task force model. We’re trying to turn longer, all team, two-hour meetings into 30-minute power sessions by empowering team members to coordinate smaller work sessions outside of the big group. Then, we’re asking the task force to present their plans to the big group, rather than discussing them.
And as my company grows and roles evolve, I’m getting ready for my daily duties to change, too. It may be time for me to take a step back and let other people do some of the work that I’ve loved in the past. My job now is to hire, innovate, lead and inspire. My team won’t grow if I’m at every meeting and on every call. Also, and this is the hard part, it’s my job to remove team members if they aren’t working out. Don’t underestimate the importance of building, maintaining and nurturing a great team.
For the past few months, I have been working on a podcast where I’ve interviewed founders much more seasoned than myself. I ask each of them the same question, “When did you reach the tipping point?” What surprises me every time is how many years it took their companies to go from starting up to scaling. What’s more surprising is that the road is usually filled with failures. Their message to me is loud and clear: Don’t expect major success overnight. And don’t accept failure. Innovate and grow — and that’s exactly what we’re doing at Monica + Andy.
Monica Royer is the founder of Monica + Andy, a clothing store that specializes in quality, organic baby apparel. This is her final installment in a four-part series about how she started her company. Read part one on how she quit her job to start her own business, part two on fundraising and part three on how she hired the perfect team.