Sales Answer Man: How to Grow Your Business Beyond Start-Up

Q: How do we transition from a start-up business to an emerging business? 

A: Congratulations on starting your company, growing your company and wanting to continue to expand your company! 

Many start-ups want to get to a certain point to either “get comfortable” or sell. For those who want only to get comfortable, once that happens, you are already falling behind, let alone growing! Can you imagine any company saying “I am maintaining status quo” after the past 20 months of a pandemic?

When transitioning from start-up to an emerging business, the key is: It’s NOT about you, and it IS about you! 

Allow me to unpack that a little.

Why It’s Not About You

As an emerging business, the more aspects of your business you are involved in, the less likely you can scale. Initially, most start-ups succeed by the perseverance, raw talent and grit of the person(s) who started the company. Yet this will only get them so far.

I would suggest doing a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) on your business. Hire an outside facilitator and pick an offsite location. Include ownership, a couple of managers and a couple of worker bees. 

The key to being invited to participate is: They want to see YOUR company succeed, have a growth mindset and will speak their minds. We want mature, objective, confident people to help you get as much truth as possible from the SWOT analysis.

Once you have the results of the analysis, we are ready for the next part.

Why It Is About You

I had a pastor tell me in my mid 20s, “You can’t give what you don’t have!” 

While I was initially upset by his response, I realized pretty quickly there was a lot of wisdom in his statement.

What do YOU want your business to look like in six years? What areas of your business were you uniquely MADE to do? Meaning, when you are doing these things, you feel energized, and it doesn’t feel like work. 

Conversely, what areas are you ABLE to do and can take it or leave it. You don’t yearn to do it and also don’t miss it if weeks go by without doing it.

Lastly, what areas of your business de-energize you when you do them? It’s misery when you do them, and you tend to procrastinate doing them for those very reasons.

What are some of those areas the business owner should not be responsible for? 

How about sales, marketing, human resources, operations, customer service and administration/support. That is a lot of boxes to have one person’s name in.While you may not be able to have a full-time person in each of those boxes, you may be able to have a person responsible for more than one box. For example, a good office manager could be responsible for the human resources and administration/support boxes. 

Another option would be to outsource one or more areas to a company that specializes in those areas. This allows you to have a more skilled professional part time for less than a full-time, less-skilled person. Examples of this could be a fractional sales manager, marketing manager, controller and human resources specialist.

As the owner of an emerging company, I personally have a fractional controller, marketing manager and client success manager. Not only is the work getting done at a higher level, I see all of them as mature, valuable members of our team.

After performing a SWOT analysis on your company, getting clarity on where you want your company to be in six years (your north star), and thinking more about what you were made to do – you’ll be clear on what types of people you need to hire next to become the emerging company you have dreamed of.

Dan Stalp is president of Sandler Training, a sales and professional development firm. He works with CEOs, presidents, business owners who sell, and peak performers who are tired of walking by their salespeople’s offices to see them on their computers instead of on their phones — and sick of having a superior product and losing out on price. • (913) 451-1760 •


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