Learning how to manage growth is one of the greatest challenges for a leader. Everyone wants success but too much growth can cause the demise of all your hard work.
As our business grew, we had a need to bring on more team members and expand our product offerings. We shifted from selling toys we bought from other companies to making our own toys.
One of the perks/curses of a small company is you play multiple roles. By day I was the cashier managing the giant credit card machine, but by night I was a model for our new toys. Each item needed custom packaging and I was free labor.
It may be hard to believe, but that adolescent boy wearing the flame shirt with the hat on backwards was me. I don't know what went wrong. I was certain this would be the breakthrough into the modeling career I had been dreaming about.
Oh, and don't pay attention to the potential gang signs I was throwing. I thought it was cool.
I wish I could say that all of our products worked, but that would be a lie. Part of growing your business is going through a period of trial and error. While we started off as a toy company, we took a detour into the world of women's clothing because we saw financial opportunities to capitalize on a growing market. Don't worry. I wasn't a model for those products.
We saw this as a new area for growth. What we didn't consider was how that fit in the overall company culture.
We had some success with clothes for a while, but it wasn't the right fit (See what I did there? Fit, as in clothes. I guess the joke loses some of its laughter when you have to explain it.).
Anyway, we had a team of mostly guys in their early 20's. This is not the sales staff you want for women's clothing. They are a great fit for selling toys, but women's clothing is not a good fit for their skill set.
With strategic planning, we would have avoided this detour. We would have noticed that the culture we were building was not suited for women's clothing. It was suited for toy and novelty items.
Tomorrow I'm going to talk about the culture we built. If we had of been intentional about shaping our culture from the start, we could have avoided embarrassing moments like a 20-year-old guy giving a woman a larger size of pants than what she asked for because he thought she wasn't being realistic with her size. He thought he was being helpful. She was insulted.
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