Alex is the co-founder of Workforce.com which he started with 3 friends at university 11 years ago. It now has 150 people across 3 countries.
Today, Alex takes us to the start of 2017.
The company had been running for a few years. One day, an early employee, and close friend, told them it was time she got a “real job”.
She was their 2nd or 3rd hire. And was now one of the main salespeople in the company.
They had assumed that people would want to do this forever because it was fun… but, that wasn’t the case.
They’d lost a key member of the team. Something needed to happen to stop that from happening again.
How Do You Make the Switch to a Scale Up Business?
To make sure that the business survived long-term, they needed to “level up”.
Without really defining what that meant, they started discussing systems to make the business a legitimate stepping stone for any employee’s career. Naming Atlassian as inspiration for what they were doing.
The systems took time to implement and the initial stages were messy.
But for Alex, the transition the business was making felt uncomfortable… Suddenly he was managing, and the role didn’t feel right. So he started giving responsibility to other people for periods of time.
The concept of levelling up sounded nice, but what was required of him in this transition was challenging. The adjustment from product to management made him feel like had to change to fit into this new role. And he wasn’t that good at it.
He continue to persist, thinking that he needed to become this person to be in a scale-up business. But the reality was, he needed to find someone else to do that part for him.
When You Become a Scale-Up Business — How Do You Learn the Skills You Need to Make It Work?
As the business expanded, Alex found himself in America. They’d elected a managerial team in Brisbane to keep the office there.
Although the team was capable, Alex was micro-managing and subsequently bottlenecking what they were doing.
And the worst part was, he didn’t realise until one of the team called to tell him. They were about to quit.
As the company started to grow in the US — he found himself doing it again. Now more aware, he did stop himself. But it was really hard for him not to.
As a founder, he had a clear idea of how he wanted things done. But it was holding the rest of the team back.
As the business has grown, he’s stepped away from managing. But this is a recent progression. To get there, it took years.
In this episode, Alex and I talk about the symptoms he was experiencing as he transitioned from a small company to a scaling business. And what needed to change for him to grow with the company.
We talk about
- What it was like for the founding team to grow up with the company
- How he dealt with the transition to managerial positions
- What happened to the friend who left the company that triggered this change
Alex’s story highlights a phase that many founders experience when they start to scale. Tune in to hear how he found middle ground.