Living Entrepreneurship Blog / Babson Entrepreneurs

Sustainable and Scalable: How 2 Avoid Second-Stage Growth Pains with Ed Brzychcy

Your company is doing well and you want to grow. But, what happens when you grow? How do you carry on your culture? How do you ensure that new hires will accurately represent your brand?

In How 2 Avoid Second-Stage Growth Pains, Ed Brzychcy MBA’16, founder of Blue Cord Management, Babson Alumni Supporting Entrepreneurs (BASE) consultant, and serial entrepreneur, took us through the challenges of growth and the opportunities of internal development.

Here are a few key takeaways from Ed’s session:

What is organizational culture? Ed grounds his definition of culture in behavior, or the “actions or inactions of the heads of the organization,” and attitudes. Ultimately, “Culture, by and large, is an end product” of actions and attitudes.

Do leaders get their hands dirty when they have to? Do they pitch in? These sorts of actions will shape the culture of the company.

Ed also made the point that the shift from a small, agile organization to an established brand can pose challenges to culture. For example, if you are working with your customers one-on-one and giving them highly personalized attention as a startup, think about how to carry forth this commitment when you grow and base your hiring decisions on culture fit.

How do you navigate responsibilities and decision making? As you transition from a “flat organization” to hierarchy, pay attention to the specific strengths of your team members and delineate responsibility by skill set.

And remember, hierarchy isn’t a bad thing – it can allow you to manage and delegate effectively. Keep in mind “span of control,” or how many employees a manager can successfully manage. Ed recommends no more than seven employees, even fewer if the tasks are complex.

Ultimately, “Delegation is all about trust,” said Ed. Hiring decisions based on culture fit can serve as a foundation to develop this trust.

How can managers drive enterprise value? Will a strong management team with good processes in place improve the likelihood of getting investment? Yes. As Ed explained, “Managers drive enterprise value a lot more than people think.” Potential investors look for continuity and sustainability and will ask themselves if they trust the management team to continue to run the organization into the future.

As a closing thought, Ed encouraged the room of entrepreneurs to consider their team: “No great undertaking has ever been accomplished solo.” Your team, along with your network, advisors, and mentors, will be pivotal to your successful transition from startup to second stage and to your growth.


Interested in attending How 2 Tuesdays this semester? Check out the schedule and follow along on Twitter and Instagram, #How2Tuesdays.