Letting go to grow

Just as parents struggle to let go of their
children as they enter adulthood, Nina
G. Vaca struggled with letting other hands work on her business as it grew.

“I brought in almost every customer
myself, and then I needed to leverage and
hand off those relationships to other people in the firm for scalability because one
person can’t do everything,” says Vaca,
chairwoman, founder and CEO of Pinnacle
Technical Resources Inc., a custom information technology solutions company. “If
they tell you that they can, they’re probably
lying.”

By learning how to successfully bring
others into her company and then relying
on them to get the job done, Vaca has
grown the company to about $60 million in
revenue, a 50 percent increase from the
$40 million posted in 2005.

Smart Business spoke with Vaca about
how she stepped back to see the forest
instead of focusing on the trees.

Q: How do you let go of responsibility?

Understand what your strengths are and
what your weaknesses are and embrace
them. Don’t think you have to do everything
yourself. As a leader individually, oftentimes
we try to do everything ourselves. Just
understand what your strengths are. Do
what you’re awesome at and hire what
you’re not at.

When you start something from scratch
and it is your baby, it is hard. Always be constant of the overall mission. The old saying
is, don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees.
Sometimes it’s really easy to focus on the
trees, and sometimes you’ve just got to pull
back and focus on the forest.

I handed off the day-to-day responsibilities
of client management to work on the business — our strategic focus, our client focus
— to work on bigger, more visionary things.

If you’re trying to do everything yourself,
your company will only grow to be as good
as you personally are. A group of people is
better than just one person.

Q: What are the keys to successful
growth?

The way you grow is you provide value
for your clients. Make certain you have a
service or product that is going to be of
value to someone. If you lose your focus and start growing so much that you stop
delivering for your clients — you’re focusing on things other than delivering for your
client, maybe how many sites you have —
you’re headed for disaster.

If you don’t have the right people at the
helm, you’re headed for disaster because
they’ll drive the organization in a different
way, which will ultimately not be in the
best interest of the firm. The key to growing a business is making sure you have the
right people in place for scale.

Communication is one
of the most important
things within the company. If you’re not constantly communicating to
people what’s going on, and certainly while
you’re growing, something may be going on
at one end of the business that would be helpful to the other end of the business. At the
end of the day, if you all get in a room and
communicate, you’re going to be that much
more knowledgeable and powerful as a corporation.

Q: What do you look for in employees?

Above the obvious, which is their educational discipline, their expertise and their
years of experience, one of the things I
look for is attitude — a positive one. I look
for people that are self-starters and are
entrepreneurial in nature. Our company is
a very entrepreneurial environment and
that means you have to be a self-starter and
consider this your own and want to see the
company succeed.

Have people that understand the environment that they’re working in. Change is
expected. Everybody knows that our company will not look like this in the next 12
months. They know that, they understand
that, they embrace that.

People are willing to wear different hats.
People are willing to work extra hours.
People are willing to see those changes and
embrace those changes because they
know it’s for the best of the company.

Q: How do you integrate new people into
the company?

Allow a competitive, fair work environment. That means that this environment is
open to anyone who wants to come in and
do a good job.

Tenure is not an issue. Seniority is not an issue. You have to be consistent and create
an environment where anybody can succeed.

Q: How do you create that environment?

It’s a variety of things. Work with your
level managers to make sure there are metrics available and that people have attainable goals, understand their goals, and that
you follow up on those goals.

Create a good working environment,
where someone who’s been here five
years versus someone who’s come in a
year, each have the same financial
threshold they can attain, assuming they
meet their goals.

HOW TO REACH: Pinnacle Technical Resources Inc., (214)
740-2424 or www.pinnacle1.com