It feels horrible: You’re scaling up aggressively and working harder than ever, but with each passing day you feel more overwhelmed. Your business is a success, but you feel like a failure. You used to be able to track everything with an Excel spread sheet, personally designed by your CFO; now you’ve got an SAP installation in its place, supported by an entire IT department. You and your founding team used to feel like members of the same small tribe; now you’re working with unfamiliar layers of staff hired from companies whose culture is not like yours. You used to know your key customers by their first names; now you know them only as averages on PowerPoint slides.
Every employee used to know what made your mission special; now most of them don’t. Things are spinning out of control, and you don’t know what to do. The crisis of overload is stressful because it happens when people are already working as hard as they have ever worked in their lives, with limited capacity to deal with more. If you’re starting to see the symptoms of overload in your company, your core challenges are to refocus the company on customers and frontline employees and remove barriers to decision-making. By thinking like a founder and acting quickly, you can steer your company back on course