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Could Your Startup Benefit from Outside Leadership? Look for These 5 Signs Bringing on new leadership can be all you need to spur future growth in your organization.

By Shawn Cole

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Running a startup isn't easy. With a smaller workforce, you may be responsible for growing sales, sustaining your operations, keeping in compliance and many other tasks. And when something goes wrong, you're often the one that clients and employees turn to for help. So while company ownership is rewarding, being the leader and wearing so many hats can be tough at times.

Thankfully, outside assistance can lift a significant burden from your shoulders. A new leader could identify potential opportunities you're passing up or areas where you could improve your business operations. Above all else, it allows you to step back from the day-to-day operations and focus on big-picture ideas that will grow your business.

Here are a few signs that it's time to bring outside leadership to your organization.

1. You're planning to expand the business

Most businesses will have varying growth goals. Perhaps you want to open a new office in another city or introduce a new product or service line to benefit your customers.

With growth comes the potential for higher revenue, but it also means more risk. You'll likely need to invest some money up front to support the expansion, which may require taking on debt or digging into your savings. Your workload will also increase, so you may need to work longer hours to make your endeavor a success.

To smooth the path forward, it's often best to bring on a qualified leader who can support your business expansion. New leadership can take the helm of your existing operations while you focus on your growth — or vice versa. You'll have someone you can turn to for help instead of stretching yourself too thin.

Related: 5 Must-Haves for Entrepreneurs and Their Startups to be Successful

2. You're tapping into a new market

Are you planning to market your products or services to a new customer demographic? If so, you might benefit from the expertise of a marketing executive familiar with your target audience.

Opening your company to a new market is similar to a business expansion; there's a potential for revenue growth and opportunities. However, you'll likely need to switch up your marketing techniques. After all, your current advertising strategies aren't likely to work with an audience with different buying behaviors and demographics.

A new marketing leader can help you fine-tune and tailor your advertising strategies for your audience. They can also provide strategic insights into your current marketing plan and revitalize it.

Related: 8 Practical Tips for Successfully Launching Your Startup

3. Your existing employees are handling multiple roles

Startups often have a few key employees that have been with the company since its infancy. As a result, founders value and trust these workers, turning to them whenever they need assistance — even if the responsibility falls outside their routine tasks.

While having an employee you rely on is something to be proud of, you may be giving them work that someone else could perform better. For instance, you may have an office manager with versatile finance, marketing and operations skills. While these qualities may have supported your initial growth, continuing to spread your team too thin may lead to burnout.

Furthermore, it's unlikely that an office manager has specialized training in finance or marketing, and continuing to rely on them in these areas will only hinder your growth. You may find that you get better results by hiring someone who is an expert in a specific area — especially if you're planning on significant changes for your company in the future.

Related: Up Your Game As a Business Leader By Looking Outside Yourself

4. Company growth is stagnating

After a certain point, you may find that you're not seeing the same significant results you did in your first few years of business. This is a sign that your organization has entered into its maturity phase.

The maturity phase is something startup owners strive for. However, once the maturity phase hits, revenue growth can often slow to a crawl.

The good news is that you've built a solid platform for future growth, but you may need some strategic insight to attain it. Hiring a new executive who can partner with you and formulate a vision for pushing your company past its current milestones can be a step in the right direction.

5. A valued team member is leaving

Has your current COO decided it's time to retire? Is a trusted Head of Sales starting their own business? If so, you'll need to hire someone to replace them — and quickly.

While leadership turnover can be problematic for startups, it's a natural part of growth. Nothing is permanent, and your experienced team members will leave at some point — just as you will if you decide to exit.

It's not easy when a key team member leaves, but it can be the preface of a new beginning. Bringing on a new leader means you'll have fresh eyes in areas that likely haven't been seen by anyone but you and your prior employee in years. Their unique perspective can breathe new life into your brand and workflow in ways you didn't even realize you needed.

If your prior team member had significant responsibilities in your organization, you'd want to replace them with someone equally qualified who brings new talents to your company. Use the opportunity to find someone with an up-to-date skill set that can revitalize your organization.

New leadership can be scary, but it's also good for your organization

It can be tough to hand over the reins of essential responsibilities to someone you're unfamiliar with. After all, your company probably means as much to you as your family — you've seen it through multiple milestones and accomplished more than you could ever hope for. It's only natural to want to ensure it's in good hands.

However, if you keep a positive attitude and seek a qualified leader who can add value to your company, you'll reap significant benefits. Bringing on new leadership can be all you need to spur future growth in your organization.

Shawn Cole

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor


Serial entrepreneur turned executive headhunter Shawn Cole is the President and Co-Founder of Cowen Partners, a global executive search firm. Shawn helps CEOs and Founders of start-ups to multi-billion dollar companies grow at scale, create value, and drive results with world-class talent.

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