WW#027: The Cost of Not Cultivating Culture

How could my story of not scaling a business very well (initially), help you grow yours faster?

I want to tell you a story that illustrates the importance of building a collaborative culture and a team with a commercial mindset.

This story is important because it took twelve years to grow my previous consultancy from 3 of us to a team of 50 and a turnover of over £12m.

Here’s what happened …

Six years into our journey, we only had 9 team members, even though we wanted to grow the team much bigger. Our attrition rate was poor & scaling is incredibly hard if you don’t keep (or more importantly hire) the right team.

We believed that if everyone came in, kept their heads down and did their job, it would help move the business forward. The thing is, we’d failed to realise that although we were productive individually, we weren’t a cohesive team. We spent no time focusing on team culture: we actively avoided overlap in our roles and just did our bit – there was no group planning, just silos. This stopped us from being able to grow both the team and subsequently, the business.

People would join, the same people would leave. They did not feel a sense of belonging, and their contribution to the whole was not clear. There was very little collaboration: we were working in agreement, not alignment.

Now here’s your big takeaway from all this …

When we built a shared vision and values together as a team (with the emphasis on ‘shared’), we went from silos to SWOT sessions and didn’t look back! Building collaboratively began the journey of rapid growth for us (albeit a lot later than we wanted).

There are some crucial things to keep in mind as you implement a more collaborative approach in your organisation.

These include:

Your hiring process must be repeatable & qualitative (not just employing someone based on your gut feeling)

Your onboarding process must be inspiring, educational, so they know from day 1 it was the right company to join (and it must also be repeatable).

You need to let the team see key data & reporting to give them the whole picture so they feel more involved and can make informed decisions.

You must have clear, formal procedures for your team to give you feedback (and then of course you have to listen & act on it).

Above all, you need to create psychological safety, so people know it’s OK to make mistakes (as mistakes are always a learning opportunity)

Now, there’s a lot more I want to tell you about this, and what I’ve shared above is just the tip of the iceberg.

I urge you to check out the free, Lite version of the Catalyst Programme so that you can sample parts of my tried-and-tested lessons in scaling a team to your own organisation… I’ve got the charred t-shirt from doing this multiple times, so I know it works!

Access Catalyst Lite (link will work for limited time only)

Alternatively, you may want to explore Commercialising your team

Find out how I could help you with planning, mindset, culture & scaling in as little as 1 hour a month...

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James Potten


On a mission to democratise entrepreneurship by providing access to best practice, helping startups sustainably scale up.