Change is inevitable. A prime example of this is AI and how it is making its way through many industries. If you do not accept, embrace and become a champion for change, you will be left behind. A CEO and the company’s leadership team set the tone for change adoption. They need to lead and support their team and even customers with changes being implemented. A company will become stagnant and will plateau if they do not adapt to changes including shifts required internally to support growth goals and sustainability.

Startups usually start with a small cohort of close colleagues. But what happens when you add a bunch of new people into this close cohort? How do you maintain the company culture? In addition, what is needed to successfully scale a business to increase market share or to increase offerings? How can a small startup grow successfully to a midsize and then large company? To address these questions, we are talking to successful business leaders who can share stories and insights from their experiences about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Scale Your Business”. As a part of this series, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Jessica Frigon.

Jessica Frigon is an Operations Consultant and Founder of PROJECT LOVE, a boutique Operations Firm. Using her 15+ years of extensive Operations and Project Management experience, she helps home and lifestyle brands scale sustainably, increase revenue and build a team with confidence by systemizing their operations.

Thank you for joining us in this interview series. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

My journey began when I made the quick decision to move away from the law industry and launched my first business as a wedding planner. It married my love for detailed organization, planning and execution with the creativity I craved. I thoroughly loved the experience but wanted more freedom in the evenings and weekends and chose to focus on a corporate career.

After taking on a variety of roles, I was fortunate enough to be hired by a company which turned into a 15 year tenure. I started at reception and worked my way up to Project Manager leading multi-million dollar projects across the family of companies, and then Director, Operations of the new sales division that was launched by the company’s Founder and former CEO.

My entrepreneurial spirit reignited during this time and prompted me to use my corporate skillset and love for operations and planning to launch PROJECT LOVE. My mission has been to help business owners experience the success they deserved while being able to focus more of their time and energy on what they truly loved — which is what prompted them to start their business after all.

You’ve had a remarkable career journey. Can you highlight a key decision in your career that helped you get to where you are today?

What greatly contributed to my success today in corporate but also as an entrepreneur is making the scary decision to leave a stable corporate role to join a startup sales company and build their operations from the literal ground up. It provided incredible learnings, helped me greatly develop my skills as a leader and taught me what it truly takes to start and grow a business and team. Without this experience and opportunity, I would not be where I am today in business.

What’s the most impactful initiative you’ve led that you’re particularly proud of?

The most impactful initiative that I am most proud of is being part of the team that made the startup sales company an incredible success. To give context, this business model was a concept. I walked into a bare office space, opened a blank computer screen that was not yet even set up or connected to a printer. No letterhead, no processes, no systems built — it was truly a blank page.

Initially, I won’t sugar coat it but I honestly thought to myself “what have I gotten myself into?”. It was scary as everything had to be built out but it was the most educational, inspirational, rewarding and challenging experience of my life and I will never forget it.

I developed the business systems which consisted of procedures, templates, and built out a CRM custom tailored to fully support the sales process and team, and much more. I wore many hats initially to support the team so they could focus solely on sales.

This resulted in the greatest to date success for virtual sales in an industry that pre-covid relied entirely on face-to-face sales, which are vastly different from each other. To achieve success and prepare the business and team to grow and scale required processes to be automated and consistently executed by all team members. This is essential in order to have proper oversight into business and team performance and to bring on new team members with ease.

Sometimes our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a mistake you’ve made and the lesson you took away from it?

There have been many, of course. One that comes to mind that taught me a major lesson was promoting a team member to a role they were not yet ready for as a means to retain them. Unfortunately, this decision had a negative effect on the team culture which directly impacted output and pulled focus for myself and others from revenue generating activities.

Your team plays a major part in the success you will experience. It is critical to make decisions in regards to team members, roles, and responsibilities thoughtfully. I learned to never again make a decision in reaction mode. “Hire (or promote) slow, fire fast” has stuck with me since.

How has mentorship played a role in your career, whether receiving mentorship or offering it to others?

Mentorship has been key in my career growth, in corporate and as an entrepreneur. You will never know everything and why waste precious time trying to figure things out the hard and slow way when you can learn from those that have already mastered it? I was blessed to have an incredible mentor in corporate that truly set the tone for how to successfully run a business but more importantly set the bar on how to conduct yourself as a CEO and leader. I also invested quickly and often when I launched PROJECT LOVE to gain support with mindset, marketing & PR, areas I knew I needed to develop. The skills and knowledge I acquired in these areas has been invaluable and have even helped me better serve my clients and community.

Developing your leadership style takes time and practice. Who do you model your leadership style after? What are some key character traits you try to emulate?

I will forever try to emulate my corporate mentor’s leadership style. I strive to follow in his footsteps and lead with crystal clear communication, decisiveness, emotional intelligence, awareness, humility and integrity. But most importantly, I try my best to lead by example because I wholeheartedly believe it all starts at the top of the company.

I make it a priority to continuously develop my leadership skills to fully support my team and community. Becoming a great leader takes time and consistent work as you prepare for growth and scaling of a business. Each new level of success brings new opportunities for leadership elevation.

Thank you for sharing that with us. Let’s talk about scaling a business from a small startup to a midsize and then large company. Based on your experience, can you share with our readers the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Scale Your Business”? Please give a story or example for each.

To scale a business from start up to midsize and then to a large company, you must:

  1. Create a solid solution(s) for your client’s problem and communicate it exceptionally well.

Without an offering; whether a product or service, you have no means of serving clients or customers. And without clients or customers, there is no revenue which means you do not have a business, just an expensive hobby. Your potential clients or customers need to understand the value of your offering, the transformation they will experience, and what they can expect to receive. You need to keep things simple when developing your offerings to eliminate buyer overwhelm which is something I often see done wrong with businesses. The confused mind never buys.

2. Develop your operational foundation.

Many entrepreneurs focus their time and energy on sales and marketing strategies and yes that is necessary to increase your visibility and generate revenue. What is often overlooked, however, is building the operational foundation and infrastructure that will support the results that will be had through these initiatives. If a company gets an influx of clients and sales but doesn’t have the processes and technology in place to manage them and deliver on expectations, this will result in overwhelm, errors, and a negative client or customer experience which impacts referral and retention rates. And ultimately, it creates a poor reputation in the marketplace or industry which is extremely bad for business.

3. Build a high-performance team and culture.

Many pull the trigger too quickly in hiring and do not properly plan out their team structure and identify the roles required and what qualifications are needed to execute the responsibilities exceptionally well. I have personally witnessed the impact a badly executed hiring and onboarding process can have on a new team member and it is something that is challenging to recover from. Leaders need to empower their team members and allow them to take ownership of their roles.

Culture sets the tone for the team. To achieve a high performance culture, you must dedicate time to nurture it. Create a collaborative atmosphere within the team — even within a sales team that competes (this absolutely can be achieved!). Create a meeting schedule for your team to share learnings, develop their skills, ask questions and receive coaching. Perform reviews and support team member growth and development. And most importantly, make it a priority to play as hard as you work!

4. Dedicate time on a consistent basis to focus on business performance, vision, goals and strategy.

In the beginning stages, entrepreneurs get stuck in the weeds of their business. They wear all the hats, do all the tasks and essentially become their company’s top employee. It is challenging to begin to let go and delegate when you have held control for however long. But in order to grow and scale, a business needs a CEO and leader. In order to step into the CEO role, one must dedicate time to working ON the business. This is where a CEO day comes into play, to help the CEO step out of the day-to-day and review performance, analyze metrics, determine what’s working and not working, make strategic decisions based on data and vision alignment and plan next steps. This is key to moving the needle forward consistently.

5. Embrace change as the landscape and industry are guaranteed to shift.

Change is inevitable. A prime example of this is AI and how it is making its way through many industries. If you do not accept, embrace and become a champion for change, you will be left behind. A CEO and the company’s leadership team set the tone for change adoption. They need to lead and support their team and even customers with changes being implemented. A company will become stagnant and will plateau if they do not adapt to changes including shifts required internally to support growth goals and sustainability.

Can you share a few of the mistakes that companies make when they try to scale a business? What would you suggest to address those errors?

The first mistake I see companies make is not developing processes which results in unnecessary confusion, lack of visibility into performance and task execution and it becomes a challenge to onboard new team members with ease. Documented processes are critical to the success of the team and business.

The second mistake I see made is implementing technology too quickly and without due diligence. Technology is only beneficial to a business and team if first off utilized and utilized well by all. You need to take time to determine your system requirements which starts with documenting your processes. There are many considerations to take into account when selecting a technology platform, one of which I consider highest priority: will it make it easier for team members to perform their roles or will it overcomplicate them and increase the time it takes to complete their tasks?

The third mistake I see made is a lack of communication and transparency throughout the team; from the top down. Communication is essential to team success and culture. Lack of communication results in individuals making their own conclusions, executing their responsibilities incorrectly and losing sight of the goal and vision.

Scaling includes bringing new people into the organization. How can a company preserve its company culture and ethos when new people are brought in?

Introducing a new team member to your company and culture begins with the hiring and onboarding process, which will leave a lasting impression. The hiring and onboarding process should be seamlessly executed and clearly communicated, setting appropriate expectations for those involved.

In the interview phase, it is important to be well prepared with questions that will initiate a deeper discussion so that you can truly get to know your candidate and allow them space to get to you and the company (I honestly feel it is as much their interview as it is yours). I recommend including an additional individual from leadership in the interview to take notes, to observe the candidate’s body language, and prompt the interviewer with follow-up questions, where needed. A question should be included to learn of the candidate’s experience with their past employer’s company culture — what did they consider to be a great culture and why? How did they contribute to it and promote it?

The onboarding phase is where they will see firsthand what type of culture a company and team truly have. To effectively immerse them into the company, educate them on the company values, the mission, the “why” and the big vision. Help them get as excited as you and your team are about being part of the company and its journey.

Additionally, I recommend setting up 1:1 sessions with each team member they will be working with to get to know each other, as well as, setting up introductions with any departmental leaders they will be collaborating with.

Many times, a key aspect of scaling your business is scaling your team’s knowledge and internal procedures. What tools or techniques have helped your teams be successful at scaling internally?

To continuously develop your team’s knowledge and internal procedures, I recommend the following:

Team Development: Introduce daily scrums with a pre-planned educational component and record them for future reference but also to be used in training of future team members. Implement a communication tool such as Slack where you can create custom channels to develop a knowledge base of information. Setup educational sessions that will develop their core required skill sets. Start a developmental book club and hold a monthly session to dissect learnings and discuss ways to apply them to enhance their performance.

Procedure Refinement: Track all Standard Operating Procedures created and assign ownership responsibilities. Create a review frequency, which I recommend to be quarterly, to analyze them and determine if they are up to date or require optimization. A question to be asked when reviewing is “how can this be done more efficiently and produce higher-quality results?”.

What software or tools do you recommend to help onboard new hires?

Depending on the size of the company and the type of team structure, the technology requirements will vary.

A small company may only require a Project Management tool to manage the hiring, onboarding and day-to-day oversight of your team members. In this instance, I always recommend ClickUp.

For a large company, a more complex technology platform may be required to properly and efficiently manage all aspects of Human Resources and Payroll, for which I recommend UKG.

Because of your role, you are a person of significant influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most people, what would that be? You never know what your ideas can trigger.

I would encourage there to be more intentional focus on mentorship beginning at an early age. There are many skills, habits, and lessons that I was introduced to and learned from that I wish would have been instilled in me at a young age. I would like to see the next generation be mentored in the family home, through the educational system, and be provided with additional programs to further support their development.

They should be taught what it takes to be a great leader, how important mindset and emotional intelligence is, what habits are critical to success and how to develop them. They should be taught financial literacy and how to build wealth. They should be supported in figuring out what success really means to them — which may change as they grow up but will help them have the right priorities when making decisions so that when they achieve their goals, they feel fulfilled and happy. They should be helped to develop resiliency and consistency.

But most importantly, it needs to be instilled in them to put continuous learning and development as a priority throughout their lives.These are essential foundations that will set them up for success throughout their life and career — no matter the path they choose.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can connect with me through my website, Instagram and LinkedIn profiles.

This was truly meaningful! Thank you so much for your time and for sharing your expertise!

Photo Credit: Hong Photography & Cinema Inc.

Jessica Frigon Of PROJECT LOVE On 5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Scale Your Business was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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