17 December 2014
One of the questions I often get asked is how to manage your business at different levels, as it grows from a handful of people – or even a one man (or woman) band – to a team of fifty, or maybe a hundred employees. It’s a tough thing for anyone to learn, as each level you reach brings a different kind of responsibility and different problems.
I remember getting to one hundred people and receiving some advice from a good friend, who told me, “Split the business in half”. I wish I’d taken his advice at this point, but we learnt the hard way and – whilst the business was still running well – I’d say the wheels wobbled a bit. It was a valuable lesson though, and we’re stronger for it as a business.
So, what advice would I give? It’s easy to ignore the mistakes you made, but if they can help other people then they’re well worth acknowledging. One of my early mistakes was perhaps not letting great people have the responsibility and the challenge they crave. It’s such an important part of running a rapidly expanding business.
In my experience, you have to keep dividing and keep making sure you create spaces for entrepreneurial spirit. It’s about giving people as much scope and as much responsibility as they want to take onto their own shoulders. Why hold them back? There’s always talent within your own business.
The other thing is that if you don’t allow people to grow at their own pace then, ultimately, you risk losing them, as they will feel like they have to leave and go elsewhere to develop and further their careers. One of the guys in our enterprise division once described UKFast as being a place of relentless opportunity, and I’m really pleased to hear it.
So I suppose my advice would be that, if you’re getting recruitment right and getting the right people on the bus then you’re better off taking a chance on somebody within your business who has the right values than taking a gamble on somebody who has a great CV. When you put your trust in somebody, more often than not, they will exceed your expectations.