Why Leadership is Just as Important as Sales: Scaling Tips from Karla Singson

As a start-up, the most important part of your business is your product or service. An excellent product / service is sure to generate sales. But what’s next? A natural direction would be to scale your business. You will be serving a larger customer base and you will be diversifying your portfolio. You are no longer a start-up, and you are no longer a party of one. 

Managing a start-up with one to three employees is a lot more different than managing a team of ten. As your business grows, your product or service will no longer be the strength of the business. It will be you, as a leader. 

Karla Singson knows this very well. As a self-made entrepreneur, she has successfully scaled a couple of her own businesses– both physical and onlinee.

How did you start as an entrepreneur?

I was nineteen when I started two of my oldest businesses. I was doing it on the side, while I was a full time employee. Over time, I found that employment wasn’t just for me. The office politics was too much, the dress code was ridiculous – I yearned to have freedom beyond that.

Today, my flower and PR and Events Company is still thriving after eleven years. I’ve scaled my flower shop from online, to brick and mortar, to a franchise. My Events and PR Company went from weddings and local campaigns to international ones. I’ve led over a hundred campaigns reaching as far as far as Thailand, Puerto Rico, and even Las Vegas. I was very lucky enough to work too, with industry giants I admire like Air Asia, Sharp, Bosch, and Sony.

Your growth as an entrepreneur is amazing. What changed things for you? What made this happen?

I credit the success and growth of my businesses to an effective leadership. I had a good example with my parents as my mentors. I wouldn’t have the mindset that I had then, without the guidance of my parents. I looked up to them as leaders and they led me to making good decisions and they’ve guided me through the bad ones.

So, when I started to scale, I realized that my business is no longer my own. The results I want cannot be achieved by one person alone, I would need a team, and I would need to lead. It’s a totally different skill set, and just as my business grows, I would need to grow as a leader as well.

What would be your 3 tips to Scaling your Business through a Good Leadership?

1. Create Your Management Philosophy

I personally found that telling your team just what to do is not effective. An authoritarian rule can be demoralizing, and it can make your team feel like they don’t belong to the organization. What worked for me is a collaborative style. I had to improve my communication skills especially, at this time. I shared with the team the direction we are headed, listened and encouraged input, and made decisions with their knowledge and cooperation.

This allowed for more creativity, loyalty, and camaraderie from my team. I’ve created a culture that I wanted to be in, back when I was nineteen! To add to that, being the eldest child didn’t hurt. 

2. Mentor Your Managers

With the business growing, you will be taking up new roles and you will be looking out for the organization as whole. You will need to delegate tasks to the next best person – your managers. Mentoring your managers means leadership training, provision of tools and resources, and of course, trust. This means – absolutely no micromanaging. Share your power. Trust the skill and intelligence of your managers to lead their own team. You hired them because you’ve seen their potential and skill, after all.  Trust them to do their job well.

3. Empower Your Employees

If you could achieve the results you want on your own, you would have remained an employee of one. You need your team to achieve your goals. You need every single person, and they deserve to be treated well. Treat your employees fairly and make sure they know that you have their best interests in mind. It’s a cliché – but it remains to be true, ‘take care of your employees, and they’ll take care of your clients.’

Karla is a mentor and coach to small and medium business owners, and she lends her expertise on leadership to scale these SMEs through managed outsourcing, marketing automation, and exceptional team engagement.