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The Dream Team or a Nightmare - Part One

Guest Blogger Cliff Oxford of Entrepreneur Advisors discusses his real life experiences in a three part series regarding a key point in the growth of a company. Where, when and how do you find the right people to take the company to the next level? And what do you do with the people who got you to the current level? A difficult point for the entrepreneur...

“When are you going to hire new people to take this company to the next level?” This is the question I was asked after crossing the 200 person mark and winning several national accounts. I listened this time because I realized I had stretched the company too far. To grow more we needed additional systems, structure, and hierarchy and none of us knew how to do that.

This is a key point in the growth of a company – where, when and how do you find the right people to take the company to the next level? And what do you do with the people who got you to the current level? A difficult point for the entrepreneur! We had started to experience our first customer service issues. Having customer complaints was demoralizing because we had set the gold standard, but the large accounts had simply overwhelmed us. At the same time we had a near-fatal disaster while upgrading to an enterprise accounting software system. Then the controller left – people were leaving the company for the first time ever!

So I turned to advisors – bankers and consultants – and the consensus was we needed to bring in “heavy hitters” – people who had run $250 million divisions of larger companies. That sounded right – if they could run a $250 division they should be able to help a $35 million company get to $50 million, right? Even better, my current team would accept being the #2 people if they could learn from the heavy hitters. We brought in a new senior level controller who immediately got the accounting system back on track. Encouraged by this success I brought in a new CFO, COO and four national sales directors, all from multi-billion dollar corporations! I felt relieved as the C-suite executives accepted their offers.

So how did the Dream Team turn into a nightmare? Stay tuned for Part Two in this series next week!

About Cliff Oxford. Having launched a three-time Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Company and endowed Emory University’s top-10 ranking Executive MBA program, W. Cliff Oxford is bridging the gap between Harvard and hard knocks. Currently presiding over the fastest-growing entrepreneurial education company, Entrepreneur Advisors, Oxford brings talent and experience to entrepreneurial industry.


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