Becoming A Silent Assassin: Why Entrepreneurs Need To Adapt From Start-Up To Scale-Up

From visionary, strategist, operations, HR, tea maker and a whole host of other responsibilities, entrepreneurs have a lot of different hats to wear as their business grows. And over time entrepreneurs need to develop and adapt to changes in their business and any challenges they are facing.
At Entrepreneurial Spark we focus on of developing entrepreneurs as individuals rather than focussing solely on the business – and this development continues throughout the various business stages.
Early stages
In the early stages of business, entrepreneurs need to develop their mindset, be disruptive and shout loudly about what it is they have to offer. They must be persistent and show people how what they have to offer can enhance their life.
Co-founders must share a clear vision and agreed roles from the very beginning – focusing on areas that are among one’s strengths and sharing them allows the entrepreneur to cover more ground and get the business out there faster and more efficiently.
Scaling your business
As the business evolves entrepreneurs must then focus more on recruitment and leadership skills; employing a smart team and leading them to deliver and enhance your vision for the business.
Entrepreneurs should have an unwavering belief in their idea and a vision that can be shared with a team that knows and understands the ‘why’. Communication is key; whether that be with your team, stakeholders or investors.
It’s also important that messaging is positioned correctly and results are measured –metrics are a vital component as your business grows. An effective leader must encourage, inspire and nurture talent, giving them responsibility by facilitating creativity and enabling them to develop the business and themselves as individuals. Equally, leaders must ensure they hold their team accountable for their responsibilities – CEOs should have enough information to spot the red flags but also enough of a bird’s eye view to see how everything fits together.
Planning for the future
As a business scales, processes and systems need to be implemented. This requires a methodical approach and must take all parts of the business into consideration.
Leaders must also think about risks – do you have a Plan B should you need it? Succession planning should also be considered to identify and develop your team to fill leadership positions. Equally, CEOs should be aware of when their company needs fresh leadership to ensure it continues to innovate and is always revisiting the question of ‘what does my customer need and want’, as this continuously changes over time.
Entrepreneurial Spark has been led by Jim Duffy since it was founded in 2011 and, throughout its development, he was aware of succession planning and knowing when it was appropriate to hand over the reins. As we move from start-up through scale-up, I was appointed as CEO in June 2016 to provide fresh insight and apply my skillset to the next phase of Entrepreneurial Spark.
Moving from start-up through to pre-scale requires a balance between exploiting and improving what you already have, while also looking to explore new areas to ensure you stay relevant in your field. I knew sitting in a Hub back in 2016 that it wouldn’t look the same in 18 months and that we wouldn’t be doing the same things – it is my role to see that future and then work with the team to develop it.
During that phase, I invested about 70% of my time supporting and developing my team as without them there isn’t a business. From the early days, I’ve moved from back-to-back meetings on all areas of the business to now keeping roughly half of my time unscheduled to allow me to work on Entrepreneurial Spark itself, rather than for it.
In the very early stages of business entrepreneurs say yes to everything and want to please everyone. As you grow you need to learn to say no, to pick which opportunities are right for you and make sure that you focus. The ability to do this with a smile on my face is what earned me the nickname ‘the silent assassin’!
As your business scales, the ability to become a ‘silent assassin’ and identify the best opportunities and skill sets to take your start-up forward could mean the difference between success and failure.

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