Growth requires ownership at all levels

December 12, 2018 -  By
Entrepreneur's Growth Challenge (Image: Jeffrey Scott)

Image: Jeffrey Scott

Some owners lament that they made more money when they were smaller, and they make less now. Why is that?

One reason is their inability to build a strong, dynamic, nimble organization that operates as well as the owner could on his or her own.

To scale your business effectively, you have to successfully scale your organization, and this requires that your leaders—from laborers and foremen on up to the director level—feel and take ownership of their area of operation.

Ownership must be empowered, and at many levels, it also must be trained so that employees understand their role and understand what it means to take ownership. Here is an example.

Super foremen/forewomen

To operate as super foreman means to operate at the level of supervisor and project manager. Super foremen (in installation) take ownership for their projects. To do that, they must be empowered with information. This means giving them all the project data ahead of time so they can process it and plan accordingly. According to Brandon Lair, CEO of The Site Group in New Carlisle, Ohio, you should review the job with foremen a week ahead and give them the job estimate sequenced in the order that it will be produced. You then ask them to schedule their own work by inviting them to the scheduling meetings to represent their own jobs in the scheduling discussion.

It’s a chicken and egg concept. If you want your people to act like project managers, start treating and training them as such.

When you give foremen actual ownership of their job’s success, they will take more ownership when talking to clients, giving them a better experience, too. More ownership will translate into a better chance of hitting numbers, timelines and quality objectives.

Freedom to fail

Having worked with countless owners and profiling them using scientific tools, I have uncovered that a low level of trust is the entrepreneur’s biggest weakness. This is not conjecture or anecdotal. I have data. Looking at 24 different personality traits, trust rates the lowest (on average) on a scale of 1 to 10. Not all entrepreneurs score low, but a majority of them do.

This shows up in an owner’s inability to empower his or her people with knowledge and authority to make decisions.

Employees must have the freedom to fail if they are to improve. Employees learn from their mistakes. We all do. But owners with low levels of trust short circuit that process. Their people stop growing, their organization stops growing and their better people leave (or never get hired due to the subconscious knowledge that the owner will have to give up control). Thus, the owner sadly finds out that his or her income shrinks as his or her organization grows.

Your challenge

Take the $20-per-hour tasks you do and delegate them or eliminate them from your company’s processes altogether. Then take the $50-per-hour tasks and delegate those, too.

Then take your most important tasks and find (develop or hire) someone to mentor who can do a better job than you, so you can move up to more important things and grow yourself—and your company—to the next level.

As shown in the figure, The Entrepreneur’s Growth Challenge, the owner of the business must grow for the organization to take on ownership and become strong, dynamic and profitable.

If the owner is not growing, neither is the company.

This article is tagged with , , and posted in December 2018, Expert Insights
Jeffrey Scott

About the Author:

Jeffrey Scott, MBA, author, specializes in growth and profit maximization in the Green Industry. His expertise is rooted in his personal success, growing his own company into a $10 million enterprise. Now, he facilitates the Leader’s Edge peer group for landscape business owners—members achieve a 27 percent profit increase in their first year. To learn more visit

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