Tips for Leading a Fast Growing Tech Company
— Ryan Morgan, Founding Partner of Arrow, shares tips for leaders growing a technology company.
Arrow Consulting & Design has been growing rapidly since it was founded in 2005. Raul Rodila and I started from humble beginnings with a goal and it has been an incredible journey. Along the way we’ve learned a lot, built some amazing applications, adapted to changes in technology, and have grown the company to over 100 employees.
Arrow Consulting & Design Quick Stats:
· Founded: October 21st, 2005
· Founder: Ryan Morgan
· HQ Location: West Palm Beach
· Employees: 100+
· Average % Growth per Year: 40%
· Services: User Experience, Web Application Development, Website Development
Oftentimes when meeting with young entrepreneurs, start-up enthusiasts, and college students I get asked about building a thriving technology company. In this blog entry, I’ll discuss some things we’ve learned along our journey so far.
Experiences Encountered in Managing a Fast Growing CompanyAs a leader of a growing company in a fast-paced environment, there's never enough time. It’s easy to become overwhelmed. One of the things I learned over the years was the benefit of learning from others, specifically learning from mentors.
Mentors Provide Valuable InsightAs there is a limited amount of time in a day there is only so much one can do. When I started meeting with mentors I quickly figured out that their experiences and generously shared wisdom provided great counsel and insight. The ability to learn from the experiences of others is beneficial as it saves time, provides different and seasoned perspectives, and helps me become a well-rounded leader. I’ve found that some meetings over coffee with a mentor are more effective than hiring a team of consultants.
Takeaway: Find experienced mentors and soak in their wisdom
Another way to learn from experiences and wisdom of others is to read, listen to audio books, and listen to podcasts. During airplane rides, on business trips, while I run, in my car, and any time between I consume books, blogs, and podcasts of business leaders and well-respected authors.
For example, I often listen to Andy Stanley’s podcast. He provides great insight and perspective on leadership. One of his insights that stuck with me was the notion of drawing out an organizational chart and working towards replacing yourself in all the roles you’re involved with.
During certain phases of an organization’s growth, the leaders will wear many hats. It’s just the nature of the beast. Though, to continue growing one can’t wear all those hats forever and needs to hire people to replace them in those roles. This is a valuable lesson learned and we are undergoing this process at Arrow today.
Takeaway: Read often and apply lessons learned to your respective organizations
People, Processes, & StaffingContinuing with the “read often” suggestion, another example is a book I recently read, “Scaling Up Excellence.” This book was packed with insights and information. One section of the book talked about picking the right people, but it wasn’t just about the right people. It spoke to the notion of picking the right people for the right moment of growth in the company.
We recently hired a CEO at Arrow. Our company just turned 10 and we were and are growing at a rapid pace. In order to take the company to the next level of growth, it was the right time to bring in a seasoned business executive. Not only did we get the right person for the role, but we got the right person at the right time.
The book, “E-Myth,” dove into understanding the complexities of having different staffing levels. In the younger stages of an organization, there’s not as much structure present and the organization is flat. As organizations grow more structure comes into play, hierarchies are created, and processes are put into place. The author conveyed how having the correct process in place could better help to accommodate the correct staffing levels.
At Arrow, we’ve put in an organizational hierarchy to help define and articulate roles. Along with this structure and defined roles are processes that are in place to aid in the flow of communication, information, and employee growth.
Takeaway 1: Hire the right people for the right moment of growth for your organization
Takeaway 2: Having processes in place can assist with ensuring you’re staffed well
Importance of Sales & MarketingOver the years we’ve built the business up through our personal networks, relationships, and references. It has been a great journey, but to continue growth marketing and sales become of increasing importance.
The book “Zero to One” was a great read that reinforced the importance of sales and marketing. Oftentimes we as technologists think we are going to build something awesome and it will automatically go viral. As you'd imagine this is rarely the case. What's the greatest tool in the world if people don’t know about it? Oftentimes what looks like a product or tools going viral is the result of months of planning and marketing that lead to people becoming fans. Viral products usually don't happen by accident. To thrive we have to consider the work and skills necessary to take a product to market, promote it, cultivate relationships, and close a sale. The “if you build it they will come” mentality doesn’t always hold true.
Takeaway: No matter what product you’re building or service you’re providing never underestimate the importance of sales & marketing