I spoke with a hybrid leader in South Carolina recently as she is in the throes of opening a one-day hybrid homeschool program. When starting an organization and filing for tax exemption with the IRS, it's very important to estimate the organization's gross income for the first three fiscal years. This causes a lot of discussion and thought about whether or not the program will grow if the opportunity arises. Here is part of my response to this leader/founder as she considered what the next three years might look like in her organization:
How to handle and possibly limit growth is a complicated decision and will be unique to you and your team. Here are some things to consider as well as some of my thoughts from my own experience:
You CAN grow quickly if you're up for it! There are surely thousands of organizations before us that have experienced, survived, and successfully navigated large, fast growth. I imagine there are just as many organizations that did NOT handle growth well and it was their downfall. I would suggest you consider the following:
How dedicated are YOU? Do you eat, sleep, and breathe the details of your program? Do your wheels turn much of every day (and sometimes the night!) spinning ideas and strategies for its success? Is your family (especially your spouse) supportive of your role as the founder/visionary and the potential for program growth?
How dedicated is your board? Are they excited and passionate about your program? Do they want to see it grow? Are they willing to assume the increased risk (mitigated by increased insurance!) and increased business operations that would come with growth?
What level of support do you have from staff? Growth causes a crazy influx of day-to-day tasks. Do you have or will you be able to hire support staff including an aide(s) and a bookkeeper to keep your workload at a reasonable level?
If you answered 'yes' to all or most of the questions above, then perhaps you could move forward with the goal of seizing growth opportunities. If you answered 'no' to all or even some of them, I would consider intentionally slowing growth and while you get a solid foundation laid. If YOU are solid, passionate, and lead the team well, it is possible to grow quickly without everyone else feeling overwhelmed. I personally have felt overwhelmed and had to learn to delegate to a large degree, which has helped. But, yes, I do think it's possible.
Has anyone told you today that YOU are doing amazing work? Being the founder and/or leader of a homeschool (especially a hybrid program) is intense work and the pay (if any!) cannot begin to touch the value of what you do. Keep on keepin' on. YOU are making a difference.