As a business owner, you have several options as to how you organize your business, and some may work better than others depending on your industry and the type of goals you have. You can also revise your structure over time to meet new demands or goals. In fact, it’s quite common for businesses to go through growing pains and turn to something different based on what they learn. While this flexibility can keep you going, the change can be costly and stressful. So what can you do to increase your chances of success early on?
1. Do what Doerr said
In his book, Measure what matters, John Doerr developed some concepts from Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel. Doerr focused on reviewing Key Goals and Key Results, or OKRs. These can be set for the entire company, a group, or just one person in your company. They describe a goal and describe a benchmark, or how you measure the success of that goal. For example, if your goal is to increase sales, your key result might be the number of units sold or the total dollar value. Whatever you measure, by the end you should be able to look back and say, “Did I do it or not? With a simple yes or no.
The beauty of this straightforward management perspective is that it’s incredibly effective at aligning people. Everyone can see where the team needs to go, how they’re going to get there and what the definition of success is. It promotes extreme ownership by both groups and individuals, as there is clarity about what needs to happen, and people can use OKRs to watch over themselves or others.
This measurability mindset is something you can apply at any time. But if you apply it as soon as you have a concept for your business, then it is much easier to get a feel for the people and resources you need and how to group them logically. The corporate leadership of the company becomes incredibly entrenched. It’s always important, but it’s especially critical at the start-up stage when you really need everyone to come together and commit with whatever they have.
Of course, there is the question of whether Doerr’s strategy has any real weight. The short answer is, absolutely. Not only has Google embraced it, but people also see it as one of the main growth engines within Silicon Valley. Almost all the companies there operate with OKRs. , and in fact, most of my own business framework, KnowBe4, is also built on OKRs. And when KnowBe4 hyper-grew, we used OKRs to move forward and make sure we were serving clients’ best interests.
2. Consider the ability to evolve
Another way to give yourself a head start, by leveraging your organizational structure, is to ask yourself if you can change your setup. A lot of companies don’t do it at first because they’re so concerned about gaining a foothold. But ideally, start with something that you can continually replicate at a very competitive price. If you can’t scale it, don’t, period.
3. Define the culture and the rules
One of the most common mistakes I see from business leaders is that they wait until they get out of “stealth mode” and start generating income to really define their ideal of what they want the culture to be. looks like or what rules they expect people to follow. But you need to have an idea of what behavior in the organization should look like long before you hire someone or close a deal. If you verbalize your terms and vision in your manual before the company begins to hire, then you can attract the right people and know exactly how they’re going to meet business goals. It’s easy to discuss expectations when hiring and make sure everyone is clear about their role.
Start on day zero to position yourself for success
Organizational structure is not necessarily something rigid. You can change with the market if needed. But your setup should always be intentional, rather than an afterthought or a mishmash. Using the OKR framework, considering scalability, and defining your culture and expectations are all strategies you can implement from day to day. zero, not from day one, but from day one zero. Embrace the right mindsets and define your best practices early on, then take them with you on your business journey.