Outgrowing Great Employees

In “The SBE Lifer” blog’s first video entry, Dan Gallo explores what happens when start-ups outgrow their initial employees and what you should do.

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I started my second company serving Fortune 500 companies in November 1990 by merging the production staff from a company I was closing with another production company.

In late 1994 I hired my first General Manager, one with significant multi-media production experience.  In fact, he was so well accomplished he went by one name: Zki. Man, was he good at what he did (and still is, BTW)!

And did he ever fill a dozen gaps in my service offerings. He handled production. He drove some sales. He handled quotes for major events. He even plugged in as the stage manager for big corporate events. And even though we were growing quickly, Zki was always the guy who led heroic efforts to make difficult projects succeed.

And he was on the leading edge of every new technology around… He was the first guy I ever knew to use email and transfer files via dial-up modems. (Gimme a break… it was the mid-90’s!) Well, Zki worked for me for less than a year.

We were growing at a break-neck pace using bleeding-edge technologies and the pressure we were under was significant–especially since we were growing faster than my free cash flow allowed. After a major project would get delivered–usually by the skin of our teeth–we’d do a post-project review which would many times get heated (pressure and exhaustion will do that to you). He’d defend his effort–which was never in question. But I wanted processes designed & built to avoid “fire-drills.”

It’s no surprise that Zki ultimately started his own staging and media production company–which he still operates in the greater New York City area. He was a great employee with advanced skills that was meant to run his own business–just in a slightly different segment of the business I was taking my company.

And the best thing we ever agreed to was parting ways.

The move allowed me to bring in someone that filled the needs and direction of my company and it allowed Zki to go in a direction that best suited him. I still fondly remember his contributions and we are friends to this day.

Zki had a great saying he’d pull out when I was being stretched in a thousand directions: “Danny,” he’d say, “the king is least free!” with a great smile on his face.

Remember, growing an SBE is a journey, don’t do it alone!

Dan Gallo
Social Media Director & Small Business Advocate, Supplier-Connection
Managing Director, The Allasso Group

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THE SBE LIFER blog is brought to you by Supplier-Connection where a growing list of Fortune 100 companies have committed to increasing their spend with US-based SBEs. To find out more about the Supplier Connection initiative, and to register your small business, go to www.supplier-connection.net.


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