When it comes to structuring your business, the forces of continuity and change require you to perform a balancing act. You need to balance your effort between making today’s structure work and ensuring you can develop the structure you will need going forward. In short, you need to be flexible.
It’s no use having your head in the clouds and building your structure around the world of tomorrow. If you’re operating inefficiently today, you may never reach that tomorrow. At the same time, establishing a rigid structure today might bring short-term success but how will it cope with change?
And there will be change. Some change will be on your terms. Hopefully you have plans for growth and a long-term vision. There will also be change that is beyond your control – the economy, technology and your client base all present a level of unpredictability to varying degrees.
External changes are not necessarily negative – a technological breakthrough may present your business with a huge opportunity, if adopted and leveraged correctly. However, it will change your plans. It is therefore better to ensure that your structure is based less around your plans and more around your goals.
A band’s goal might be to have their music listened to by people the world over. The plan to achieve this may have involved selling a lot of CDs. Now that more music is downloaded than physically purchased, the goal remains the same but the plan may change, the structure will have to adapt.
Sticking with the band scenario – processes and structures need to be in place to create the music, let people hear it and provide opportunities to buy it. Aspects such as format, pricing or medium might change but the structure can adapt. Structure based around minutiae cannot.
As a start-up or growing business, you’re at a marked advantage. You’re arriving into a world we all know changes very rapidly. You’re able to build a flexible structure from the very beginning. Many established companies are now undergoing a tortuous process of unravelling their structure, trying to make their entrenched systems more adaptable and compatible with the way the world moves.
You’re able to create something appropriate from scratch – a method of operating that performs the balancing act. You cannot ignore the short term but it is healthy to remain focused on the longer term. You can do this by creating structure based around what your goals.