I am a rock; I am an Island: But it’s hard to know what a rock is thinking.
I am a rock; I am an Island
But it’s hard to know what a rock is thinking.
I have always been one to be very strong-willed and independent; proving to myself that I didn’t need someone else’s help to achieve all the things in life and business that I set out to accomplish. This strategy worked for me for quite a long time. I’ve ended up with multiple advanced degrees, building my business and partnerships, traveled the world working research and conservation projects. I always knew what my plans were for what was coming up next, who I planned to contact, and how I planned to have my projects funded.
The problem that crops up when you start scaling your business and adding new branches, you need to let other people in on these thoughts and plans. The people that you trust to be able to help you scale your business cannot read your mind. As much as you would like everyone to say to themselves, “She’s always done amazing things, I’m sure she’s still doing amazing things in this new part of the country as well,” it can be really hard for them to keep that thought going for months without hearing from you. You may be doing wonderful things and have great plans in place, but if you continue to act like the Island that Simon & Garfunkel described in their song as you did before scaling your business, eventually your team is going to think you are cutting them off completely rather than working with them to achieve something larger than the original. Like the rest of the song says, “I touch no one, and no one touches me.”
This is something that I have experienced as I have been expanding my non-profit from one state where we have been operating comfortably for over a decade, to now multiple states and even internationally. At first, the constant communication seems like micromanagement, but it truly is helpful to those not seeing your day-to-day results what is happening on your end and what outcomes can be expected.
Being an independent island is not only not helpful, but not possible when scaling your business. This is not only about delegating tasks but about communicating plans and results. I have found so many tools that have helped me with this that turn sharing my plans and expected results into an almost seamless part of my day. Tools that we have used include a shareable calendar that my team can see where I am and what meetings I am attending (Google and iCal are good examples); an online task-tracking board so my team can see what projects I am working on, which tasks are associated with each project, and with which tasks I might need help (Monay.com and Click-up work very well with this); and of course video conferencing to have meetings in place of flying back and forth across the country so that we can brainstorm with multiple of us at the same time, share our documents on the screen while we are working, and make sure that we are all on the same page (Zoom and Google Hangouts are what we use).
After some initial hiccups with the scaling process, we are happily now not only in two locations, but we are in multiple states and multiple countries! Scaling can certainly be a rough process, but taking hold of the opportunities when they are available and letting go of your comfort zone can be so rewarding. You can’t be a rock or an island while scaling your business.
Becky Weeks, M.Sc., is a scientist and engineer turned non-profitpreneur with affiliations with University of San Diego, UC San Diego, University of Florida, Florida Atlantic University, University of Miami, and many more institutions of research and higher learning. Additionally, she has conducted environmental and wildlife research with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Seaworld Rescue, US Fish and Wildlife, National Marine Mammal Foundation, the US Navy Marine Mammal Program, and National Wildlife Federation, among others. Becky’s goal is to empower everyone to find the scientist in themselves and be curious about the world around them.