From Overwhelmed to Overachiever: Unleashing the Power of Innovation-Driven Talent in Your Business

Align Strategic | Founder Freedom
From Overwhelmed to Overachiever: Unleashing the Power of Innovation-Driven Talent in Your Business

By Cheryl Powers

As a business growth advisor specializing in SMBs and mid-market companies, I've observed a common challenge among ambitious owners and founders: scaling their businesses while reducing their personal dependency. A compelling example of this is Jaclyn Johnson's journey with Create & Cultivate.

Unpacking the Founder's Challenge: The Story of Create & Cultivate

In 2012, Jaclyn Johnson embarked on an entrepreneurial venture, launching Create & Cultivate, a media platform aimed at empowering women entrepreneurs. Johnson's vision and leadership were pivotal in its ascent. However, the company's heavy reliance on her personal brand presented a significant hurdle. In 2018, a promising acquisition deal worth $40 million was jeopardized due to concerns about this dependency, ultimately leading to a sale at the reduced price of $22 million.

This all-to-common account underlines a prevalent founder's quandary: being integral to a business's initial success yet becoming a bottleneck in its scaling or sale. Johnson's experience is a stark reminder: businesses overly reliant on their founders face diminished appeal to buyers and potential obstacles in long-term success.

Transitioning Leadership: Beyond the Founder's Shadow

This leads us to the critical task of identifying a successor or Chief Operating Officer. A common error is being enamored with candidates flaunting impressive corporate résumés, overlooking their compatibility with the company's culture.


Five Targeted Strategies for Cultivating Innovation-Driven Talent


Prioritize Problem-Solving Skills: Seek out those who have shown an ability to think strategically and solve problems creatively rather than focusing solely on their past achievements.


Assess Problem-Solving Techniques


During interviews, delve into how candidates handle complex issues. This sheds light on their creativity and willingness to take risks.


Emphasize Learning Agility


Innovation is fueled by continuous learning. Ideal candidates should demonstrate a thirst for knowledge and the flexibility to adapt to novel scenarios.


Evaluate Team Dynamics


Innovation is often a team effort. Gauge the candidate’s ability to work collaboratively and contribute to group successes.


Look for Creative Pursuits

Engagement in creative activities outside work can be a precursor to introducing innovative ideas within your business.


Foster a Culture of Innovation for Independent Growth

To ensure your business thrives beyond your direct involvement, cultivate a culture of skills, knowledge, and innovation at all levels. By implementing these strategies, you will significantly boost your chances of attracting and developing talent capable of sustaining and amplifying the innovative and knowledge-forward ethos you've established. This approach not only enhances your business's attractiveness to potential buyers but also lays a strong foundation for enduring growth and success.

 Learn more about how we help business owners and their teams go from overwhelmed to overachieving here.

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