Healthcare Informatics and Technology Investors
Healthcare Informatics and Technology Investors


About Team Role Theory

History & Research

Reliability & Validity

Dr. Meredith Belbin

Behavior vs. Personality



Growth: Watch Out For The Walls!

by Frank X. Dalton, CPA

Congratulations, you have started your company and, after several hard years, have raised the capital to take it to the next level. Smooth sailing, right? WRONG!

You are probably unaware of a phenomenon I call "entrepreneurial walls." These "walls" are critical turning points, or often just hard doses of reality, that must be overcome for a company to grow and succeed. Failure at this point will cause stagnation or eventual demise.

These walls are prevalent not only in fast-growing entrepreneurial companies but even in major corporations. IBM and AT&T are examples of large companies that have taken the wall head on and have gone right through it, making radical changes in order to move forward.

All entrepreneurial companies will eventually face many walls. Maneuvering around, over or through these walls will be critical to sustaining long-term growth and significant prosperity. Starting a company is easy compared to what lies ahead.

Growth brings changing roles

Certain entrepreneurs and founders have the vision and creativity to start a company; others have the technical knowledge to create products; and others are just there when things get started. There comes a time when these entrepreneurs are no longer effective. The roles that they must play no longer match their skills. This is a critical time since entrepreneurs who have been involved since inception must be evaluated.

Your role as founder has changed, and maybe your skills as a visionary, although still needed, are not as critical right now. To get your company over the wall at this time, you need producers (people who can sell and close deals) or maybe administrators (highly organized people who can instill discipline) or perhaps integrators (people who can make the pieces fit).

Do the skills needed to take your company to the next level of growth exist in your company? Make the changes or face a long, hard climb over the wall.

Warning: Loose structure is hazardous to your growth

Successful companies remain entrepreneurial because they can react quickly to a changing environment, take risks and make decisions. Being a successful entrepreneurial company, however, does not come without structure and organization. The free-wheeling, Wild West, loose structure of some companies controlled by highly entrepreneurial founders make them companies that are prime candidates to hit the wall. Structure and organization are keys to having an efficient operation and critical to companies with limited resources.

Companies without structure, over time, lose the focus of their primary vision and key objectives, resulting in a lot of wasted time and loss of financial resources. Your company needs discipline and accountability, which only comes from structure and organization.

The market: A mountain range of challenges

The tallest and thickest wall relates to the market. One of the keys to building a successful company is to build it around what the future will bring, not what is happening today.

The market creates many walls and your ability to avoid them or overcome them is critical to success. For example, the impending break-up of AT&T. What effect will these different, more entrepreneurial, companies have on your telecommunications-related entity?

Another example might be Microsoft’s entry into the Internet market or for that matter Microsoft’s entry into anything. I remember five or six years ago there were numerous companies developing e-mail products. Then e-mail became somewhat of a standard in network operating systems, an insurmountable wall for many.

Companies involved in the development of consumer CD-ROM products face many walls, especially the distribution channel wall, which keeps getting higher and higher. Look to the future, read and listen. Many of the market walls you will face are just forming today.

Growth is exciting but you must overcome many walls. I have only touched on a few obstacles. Having people in place who have both been there and are battle-scarred are key to conquering the inevitable walls.