How to Structure Your Organization in 3 Steps

The structure of your organization is the framework of your success.

The health and longevity of your company will live and die by its structure. It’s crucial that you get it right. 

Seriously. The importance of a well thought out structure cannot be overstated. 

But that doesn’t mean creating it has to be overwhelming or complicated. It’s really quite simple. 

In fact, I’ve boiled everything down into just three fundamental steps. While you’re going through these steps remember to consider the entire lifespan of your company. 

Structure for the business you want, not the business you have

Building your structure around the vision of your company as it should be in 1-3 years (this can vary based on how fast you are scaling) will allow for seamless growth when it comes time to implement all of the things that you can’t do today. 

Step 1: Build the Functions

The first step when structuring your organization is to take a big picture look at your needs. I’ve found that in nearly all cases, a company will have six core functions. They are: 

  1. Marketing
  2. Sales
  3. Finance
  4. People
  5. Operations
  6. Customer Success

This is going to look different depending on your business model. Things like distribution, research & development, or production may play a big role for your company. 

But even if that’s the case, it’s unlikely that the six functions listed above won’t find their way onto your list. 

Being thoughtful and unpacking the core functions of your business can help you avoid common traps and pitfalls.

Here’s a good example. 

If you get too focused on marketing without paying enough attention to operations, what happens?

you could end up with more work and clients than your company can handle. 

While on the surface this may sound like a “good problem,” that’s not usually the case. More business you can handle means no time to focus on quality, growth, and customer satisfaction. 

It also means a ton of missed opportunities if you literally cannot keep up with demand. 

A good way to ensure that you aren’t forgetting about any core functions during this stage is to map out exactly how people – both customers and employees – will discover and interact with your company. 

Imagine This: You need to hire a new employee. So naturally, you want candidates to:

– Discover the job
– Apply
– Interview
– Go through onboarding
– Receive training
– Have access to support
– And so on

And if you need to find new customers, then you want people to: 

– Discover your business
– Learn about what you offer
– Decide to buy from you
– Receive their goods or services
– Use them
– Have access to support
– Advocate for your company and purchase again

Once you have the customer and employee journey broken down into stages, you can start to pick out which departments will be responsible for each stage of the journey. You don’t need to worry about the specific responsibilities at this stage – that comes in the next steps. 

Step 2: Draft and Assign Responsibilities

Now you have a basic understanding of how people will interact with your company.

Congratulations! That’s a big step.

Now it’s time to figure out how to facilitate and manage those interactions. To do that, we’ll  break them down into responsibilities. 

This is where you really start to dive into the nitty gritty of how things will work in your organization. It’s also a great time to consider bringing on a consultant who can help ensure that your plan is thorough and without any major flaws. 

At this stage, you’ll want to thoroughly think through the operations of each function in your business. 

Let’s use Marketing as our example. 

What will those activities look like?
Will they be strictly digital?
Will you leverage SEO, paid digital ads, billboards, or something else? 

Nearly every business will have a social media account of some kind, but not everyone needs a Tik Tok account, Youtube channel, Instagram account, Facebook page, and Twitter feed. 

So, break down all of the marketing channels that your company will utilize. 

This process may get messy or chaotic, but that’s fine.

Let it be chaotic!

It can be useful to break things down by function and work through one at a time, but don’t worry too much about where things fit just yet. 

This phase is most similar to brainstorming.

In fact, you may want to use notecards or some other physical format. That way you’ll have more freedom to move things around. Write down everything that someone in your company might do, even if you’re not entirely sure. 

Prioritizing and organizing these responsibilities will happen in the next step. 

Step 3: Create the Positions

Now that you have the pieces, it’s time to assemble the puzzle.

This is where everything comes together.

Start with the responsibilities that are clearly connected. Gather up all of your marketing responsibilities, for example, and start putting together the actual jobs that will exist in your company. 

Will you have multiple social media accounts, television advertisements, and a big PR push?
That could be three separate people in your marketing department.

But who is going to be responsible for ensuring that the branding and messaging is consistent across all of those channels? Turns out you need a marketing director as well. 

Is your organization going to heavily leverage social media? You might need an entire Social Media team that reports to the Social Media Manager, who then reports to the Marketing Director. 

Break up the responsibilities in a way that feels realistic and manageable.

This is a chance early on to address potential inefficiencies as well as employee burnout.

Your goal here is to create an organizational structure that is efficient without being overwhelming. Structuring your organization well will increase employee engagement, which is one of the best things you can do for your organization. 

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