When growing your business, you should be open to pivoting, hiring and firing. At [http://www.dreamanddo.com.au/|Dream & Do], we started 2015 with Tara on her laptop in her home, and by the close of the year had moved office to upgrade three times, had five Dream Team members, four incredible interns and 37 clients. That’s a fair amount of growth in just 12 months and at times it’s been ridiculously scary!
It’s important to decide which avenue of business you want to grow first. So, you could hire more as the workload increases, or you could be on the offence and hire in order to grow the business and be able to handle more clients/sales when they come your way. Proactive or reactive. There’s no wrong answer.
As a startup, it’s easy to become a micromanager, a bit of a control freak, and have trouble relinquishing control when it comes to delegating or outsourcing. Just remember you can’t do it all (as much as we’d love to think we can!) Tara has had to shift her focus to empower her Dream Team and nurture them to make sure they’re on board with the vision of Dream & Do and the company culture. Otherwise you run the risk of servicing clients and producing work without servicing your team as well. Then you can also build your own business and brand alongside customers.
One of Tara’s best pieces of advice when she started Dream & Do was from her trainer and client, Greg from Better Being, who always says ‘Hire slowly, fire quickly.’ It’s a mantra. As a result, Tara has hedged her bets by taking on freelancers as the team grew, then once they “proved themselves”, bringing them on part-time. Although it was more expensive having contractors in the first place, it paid off in the end by being able to protect the brand and ‘hire slowly’. We also work four days a week at Dream & Do, to control cash flow and mitigate risk; most of the team have personal projects or freelance work on the side to take the pressure off.
It’s also important to be flexible and pivot your original business idea as necessary. A few months ago, we interviewed Aaron from tech startup Visual Amplifiers, who originally went to investors with a business idea about Snapchat, called Snaparazzi, which then pivoted into VAMP – connecting brands with social media influencers on Instagram. They’re listing on the stock exchange next year and are absolutely killing it, working with The Horse, ASOS, Smirnoff and more. Imagine if he hadn’t been open to pivoting!
Iconic Australian fashion designer and businesswoman Collette Dinnigan also abides by the mantra of ‘firing quickly’. In small teams especially, the wrong person can really affect the business, so you have to be a good leader and be able to make those tough decisions. Unfortunately, it means you can’t be everyone’s friend.
Spend time with your team to get to know them, spend time with your clients and really listen to them, and be open to feedback – both good and bad. Honesty and communication is key. Each team member here has regular performance reviews and goalsetting.
Growing quickly, feedback is really important because if you lose sight of what people are thinking about you, it can snowball and then crash and burn. When we finish a project, we ask each new client to fill out four simple questions for feedback, we respond quickly to unhappy clients, and make sure we have a chat on the phone to get to the heart of the issue. We appreciate honesty and as part of our brand and company culture, ask that our team and clients communicate openly and don’t say anything to us via email that you wouldn’t say to our faces. Yes, everyone loves to be patted on the back, but how will we grow? That’s how Dream & Do has handled growth this past year.
Dream and Do is a creative agency for startups, business visionaries and dreamers everywhere.
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