How do I design my organisational structure (staff)?

We have 3 very different business units (B to B services, B to C events and web-based retail)...but overall our business is still very small (revenues around $1.1M). I've been struggling for a while now trying to design an organisational structure because due to the size of the business everyone always seems to be wearing multiple hats...should they wear a "Marketing" hat but covering all different biz units - or better to be a "business unit" manager and try to span both marketing and operations? We are wanting to totally re-design our structure at the moment because we have lost all our staff - so it's a great time to be able to re-design from ground-zero with no restrictions. We also want to include some virtual staff in the mix to try and give us room to grow - until now we've been "busy" all the time and I get the feeling that being less "busy" would give us more scope to grow. What I'm looking for is a framework or thought structure or process that will help to develop an answer to this problem. Or someone who can help talk this through! Many thanks, David


This depends upon where you are in the start-up continuum.

If you are still in search of a viable business model (i.e. the start-up phase) then the "multiple hats" scenario is spot on. In this phase the key is to discover that which is repeatable and scalable. In other words - to put your energy and resources into discovering things like:
-Who your market is
-What your positioning is
-What your offers are
-What your pricing model is
-Where your market is (aka what channels to use for inbound and outbound marketing)

Warning: It would be a mistake to think you already have these things figured out when you haven't. In my experience - mastery of these "basics" are what separates successful businesses from floundering ones. And no offense - but if you are only at $1.1M in gross revenues then it seems to me like you are just beginning to figure these things out.

Due to the need for flexibility in this phase (some call this being "agile") you are best served by a team that is willing and able to do what's needed. There will likely not (yet) be any "established" positions.

And with (gross?) revenues of only $1.1M it would seem that you wouldn't require a large team anyway. [I suppose this depends upon your current business model - so I apologize for making this assumption.]

Once you've discovered a viable business model - then it's time to build systems (since you will only then know all that goes into making the sale). These systems will help you efficiently and effectively scale and repeat. It's at that time you would start creating "positions" (aka jobs) and hiring staff to do what you discovered works.

All in all - Much depends on where you are right now in order for me (or anyone else) to provide you with more specific direction.

I'd love to talk this through with you if you are still looking for assistance.

Best of luck!

Answered 10 years ago

I think the framework or thought structure on this one should be your culture. Your culture should be directly tied to what you think will drive success for the enterprise, and the structure should flow from that. Unfortunately, that means there is no one, single, right answer. The bottom line is there are plenty of structure solutions for the problem, and they are ALL good in the abstract. I think you're better off choosing one and then adapting it over time than trying to find the perfect structure ahead of time. As you said, with no staff now you have "no restrictions," but of course once you hire people, the structure might then not make sense given the new people you have on board. Do check out the resources over on Holacracy is a very decentralized approach, so it may not be for you, but they are doing some of the best thinking about structure these days in my opinion. Give me a call if you want to talk more.

Answered 10 years ago


First, I highly recommend that you pick up the book, EMyth Revisited. This is the best place to get a solid foundation of what you're wanting to do.

Functionally, if you have employees that span over one or more companies that you operate, the best solution is to build individual org charts for each company based on what it would look like if you had individual employees first. Then once the org chart is created, then you apply the names of people to the roles that they are filling in each company. What this will likely look like is one name on several org charts and potentially in several different roles.

The goal to this strategy is that you have an outline of what your company will look like when you're at 10MM, and you fill the positions with the people you have at 1.1MM. This will map out your staffing strategy when you grow, but also give your employees a full view and understanding of their role and place in each company.

I hope that helps.

Answered 10 years ago

It sounds like you need to work with an HR consultant to form a staffing plan and Org chart, which will not only address how to get the most efficiency out of your current talent, but also help to create a plan on talent acquisition and position importance moving forward. As start ups evolve this is one of the most frequent things I see them struggle with. Because in a young company employees wear many hats (unavoidable), you also need to form job descriptions that show what the most important hiring characteristics are to the positions you plan on filling. This will give you the best shot at hiring the right people the first time, and retaining them as you grow. Turnover in start ups can be a very costly issue. If you would like to hop on a call to discuss further I would be more than happy to help.

Answered 9 years ago

An organization may be structured in different ways, according to its main objectives. Company structure determines how the business will operate and perform. Organizational structure can allow for the allocation of responsibilities for the company's functions in management and production. Operational standards and routines may be developed based upon the foundation that organizational structure provides. Designing an organizational structure also helps to determine which staff will participate in decision making, which can be helpful in shaping the actions of the company or business. The type of organizational structure that a company may use is determined by the type of business and the environment that it is in. Task allocation, supervision and coordination and goal achievement are all aspects to consider when designing an organization structure for a company. While some organizations may use hierarchical structures, smaller businesses may opt to use a more informal system. For example, a small company may only have an owner who also functions as the operations manager. As the business grows, managers may be added to supervise staff in specific areas of the company. To determine staffing needs, companies may use job functions to identify the types of skills necessary for each position. Time estimates and materials required for each job should be defined, along with the level of skill required. For example, if products sold are acquired from another company, a manager or other individual would be responsible to obtain those products. If, however, the products are produced by the company, it would be necessary to employ production people who know how to make the products being sold. The experience level and caliber of the staff required vary according to the company's exact production or service needs.
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call:

Answered 4 years ago

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