How do you manage a growing business?  I sat down with Mark Hyland, former CEO of Handi Quilter and now the CEO of Daily Bread to discuss this question.  Under Mark's leadership, I saw Handi Quilter grow tremendously to become the #1 longarm machine manufacturer in the quilting industry.  My own company is experiencing about 40% annual growth for the last 3 years and managing growth is always heavy on my mind.

I asked mark how to grow a business, how to effectively manage that growth, how to keep the nimbleness of a small company while growing into a larger company, and how to motive others to grow with you.  Here are some of the insights I gained from our conversation:

Mark said there are two things: create a culture for growth and hire good people.

Mark taught me that the culture of the company is very important the bigger the company gets. New hires need to quickly learn what the company's priorities are and what they should value most.  Culture can include processes and values.  The person in charge of the company is usually the person that influences the culture of the company the most.  An open discussion with the employees of the company about the company culture is a great start at consciously shaping the culture of the company.

How do you create a great culture? It's a segway into his second point: hire good people.  In the end, a company is all about the people.  Mark said it several times. People, people, people... you need great people.  Surround yourself with great people. Start by looking at what buckets need to be filled (what seats are empty on the bus).  Then make people accountable for their part in the company.  Use your network to find great people.

Sometimes the best thing you can do for the company is to let people go. It's a difficult thing a CEO must do, but people have to grow with the company. If a person isn't going to grow as the company grows, you have to let them go.