If your company has 1-10 employees, you are considered a Stage 1 company.
You have your idea and capital; you’ve ramped up to 4 – 6 (or more) employees pretty quickly and now the fun begins. Getting out of the gate with a new company (or staying the course if your business has been around) isn’t easy but it’s a cake walk compared to creating a consistently profitable business that you can run and not have it run you.
The complexity of any organization is increased because of the number of people, not the amount of revenue, you have. Money and processes, such as financial systems, project management systems, human resource systems, are easy to manage compared to the dynamic impact that people bring to the table.
At this stage of a company’s growth, you are moving from no employees up to 10 employees. You are moving fast, making decisions minute-by-minute, chasing sales, managing client satisfaction and sometimes struggling to decide if what you have set out to do will actually work.
A Stage 1 company is Business Owner, CEO-centric. The CEO is the one with the passion, the vision, the idea. The CEO is likely the specialist who has created a product or service and is now getting her idea to take shape. The people you have hired in this first stage of growth are self-starters. You have captured their passion with your vision, your values and the potential for success. Where your company will never stop changing, and the stages of growth will take a toll as you struggle to keep up with the demands on your skill levels and ability to be the catalyst for that change, one thing will never change. It’s the values you bring to your young and impressionable company. Those values that drove your behaviors are now the constant backbone of your company that will drive the behaviors of your staff.
Because of the close-knit unit that develops when a company is running on passion, communications are done on the fly, over a quick lunch or on the way to a client meeting. By taking the time, in the early stages of growth, to focus on communicating key information, continuing to share your vision, and you values, allowing your employees to have a voice in what you do and how you do it, you are setting up a foundation for engaging employees at a formidable time in a company’s life.
In a company with 1-10 employees, engaging employees is almost a given since they get to wear many hats. As a Stage 1 company, these rules of the road are worth adhering to:
1. You must generate, track and preserve cash
2. You must hire first for how the person fits in with the team and second, for how competent they are
3. You can’t waste time trying to stabilize your company – you have to embrace chaos, command the team and inspire the employees
4. You have to embrace the chaos, lead the team and inspire employees
5. You must establish regular one-on-one meetings with each employee designed to build a company-wide performance mindset, and effective and consistent feedback loop and concentrate on employee development