Stephanie Hellstedt

As a passionate entrepreneur, I always used to be very focused on products and customers, was constantly fiddling with the portfolio and busy putting out fires whenever problems came up with customers.

Although there were already more than 20 of us, back then I had far too little on my radar for working ON the company instead of IN it. So I took hardly any time at all to think about how I really should and wanted to steer and shape my enterprise.

scale up gave me exactly the right tools to do this, and gave me a structured method for getting clarity―systematically and step by step―on how my company actually ought to work.

Especially where people were concerned, then there was a steady stream of new, exciting questions and epiphanies: Who were my "A" players? How and where could I find more like them? And which people did I have on board who weren't "A" players but were eating up enormous amounts of time and energy without my noticing it?

In this process, I was guided by two important principles:

Number one: First who, then what. Which is another way of saying that it's initially more important to make sure to have the right people on board on the INSIDE than to be busy with new products and customers on the OUTSIDE. This was the breakthrough for me. Since I started paying more attention to getting a good team going on the INSIDE, the OUTSIDE part has almost taken care of itself―plus I have my life back and don't have to run around like crazy putting out fires.

Again and again, the crucial thing for me was being challenged by Nikolai and the scale up coaches to really take a hard look at what I was doing. At the beginning it was often painful, but in the end it was always a good thing, since I could feel the passion that Nikolai and Ralph felt on my behalf. It wasn't just a program that they were mechanically reeling off. It was genuine interest in my company and the wish for my business to experience healthy growth.

At the same time, their passionate support was very helpful for showing me how to beneficially apply these tools and best practices from the scale up book myself. Many supposedly difficult decisions became quite easy once I started systematically using them.

The second principle is "there are no bad teams, only bad managers," and at first this was a really bitter pill to swallow. But if you persist in searching for ways to influence the situation, it gives you incredible power and freedom. At the same time, I noticed that, at least to begin with, I needed a lot of encouragement from the scale up coaches to apply this principle. Today―now that I've made some clear, hard "people" decisions―I can see how much easier and enjoyable it is for us to go forward with the company as a team. I'm no longer the only one pulling. Now everyone is pulling on the same rope―and in the right direction.