If you look at the real bottom line of any Internet company, you’ll notice one glaring fact: They own little, if anything. They usually don’t own any equipment. They don’t own any infrastructure. They don’t own any real business presence.
Their entire assets are usually tied up into two elements: some computers that aren’t worth much and their people. These people are the only entity that separates one Internet start-up from another. This is why the greatest thing any company can do (be it Internet or not) is to empower its employees and let this resource do what it does best. Be creative and make magic happen.
Unfortunately, many start-ups lose this vision and they begin to act like the large companies that they’ve severely beaten up. They stop empowering their people and begin looking at ways to centralize control.
It’s a Beautiful Thing
There is nothing quite like the feel of energy at a start-up company; there’s a buzz that is constant. The types of people drawn to a start-up are usually high energy and high output. But this is a chicken and an egg question. Is it the people working at a start-up who make it high energy or is it the fast-paced setting that brings the high energy out of people?
I like to think it’s the people, and this is why I find being involved in start-ups so special. You meet some of the greatest people when you know you are in the same boat pulling the oars all together in the same direction. Everyone is working hard toward a central vision. They all bring their unique talents and resources to bare and make some kind of collective energy that really is fun to be around.
When Does It Go Wrong?
The problem is that some start-ups actually “succeed” and become larger organizations. They get over that magic threshold of 30 to 50 people, and they stop doing what makes them special. They start putting in “procedures” and “protocols.” They begin to build “committees” and “groups.”
All of this is said to help the organization grow, but more often than not, it’s to allow the central figures to maintain control. They stop thinking like entrepreneurs and start thinking like executives. All of this makes for an unhappy work force that loses its energy and its fun approach to work. Employees no longer feel empowered, so they become disenfranchised.
The key to bringing your company from a small start-up to a large, successful company is to trust your employees. They are always your most valuable assets, so empower them to always make decisions and think outside of the box. Keep that bureaucracy to a minimum and allow people to just make the magic happen. You’ll have a happier work force and a faster growing company.
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