Keeping up with Rapid Growth in a Small Company
To find your company growing rapidly sounds like a fortuitous position for any business owner. However, for small companies, it can be a challenging time for those at the helm and without the correct infrastructure the increased stresses can cause things to spiral out of control.
Here are eight tips that will help you handle rapid growth in a small company.
Tip 1: Find a mentor
Having a mentor (or mentors) can be a huge asset to an entrepreneur. They may include individuals who know your industry, know you personally or a may even be a third-party business coach. They offer support, experience, perspective and insight, and can function in many roles from sounding board to legal counsel.
You may find your mentor offers pointers on business strategy, bolsters your networking efforts or acts as a confidante when things feel overwhelming.
To find the right mentor for you, look for someone you can trust to listen objectively, and look both within your circle and outside of it. Explain your business goals and work together to outline expectation for the relationship. And remember, mentors are not consultants – they should not expect payment. Their advice is offered through a genuine desire to help.
Tip 2: Learn to say no
It’s all too easy to become over-excited by the prospect of new work…too excited to say no. But if taking on more work means that service suffers or customer satisfaction decreases, then you may be growing at the expense of your integrity.
Before you take on more work you need to seriously assess whether the growth represented by that work is worth the cost in real dollars and in customer and employee satisfaction.
In other words, if it doesn’t feel right, don’t be afraid to say no to new business or advise potential new clients that there may be a wait for your service.
If you are in a situation where you’re thinking of saying no, consider weighing up the following questions: If you take this work on will you need to hire more employees? How costly will it be to train them? Will you need to expand your workspace? How much time do you have to oversee quality?
Remember, if quality goes down, those new orders may turn out to be just one-time orders and could be more costly long-term.
Tip 3: Put in place HR that supports your growth
If you don’t already have these in place, consider putting together an employee handbook, supported by a mangers’ handbook, and a performance program so that employees have a clear agreement of what is expected and what will happen if expectations aren’t met. This will help prevent things falling through the cracks and answer many employee questions, giving you more time to focus on your business.
Tip 4: Develop a workplace planning strategy
Before you find yourself leading a company whose structure has grown out of control, step back and create a plan for what the ideal structure looks like to support your growth projections. Analyze your current workforce against the new structure, focusing on the knowledge, skills and ability required for each current and new role. This will help you put together a hiring plan and ensure you hire the right people for the right reasons.
Putting together a successful workplace planning strategy can often benefit from outside objective help, and you may find this is an excellent task to work on with your mentor or outsourced consultant.
Tip 5: Encourage a shared vision
Financial incentives are just one of five reasons employees choose to stay. In order to attract and retain employees it is important to look beyond money and benefits. By establishing and sharing your core values with existing employees, and making these part of your hiring process you will be building a team that will work collectively towards your vision. When people feel an important part of the team, retention rates increase meaning that you are spending less money and time hiring and training new employees.
Tip 6: Anticipate potential needs
The best way to avoid disaster as a small business when you are growing is to plan, plan, and then plan some more. Don’t let sudden growth in your small business take you by surprise. Anticipate for potential needs and roadblocks, and lay down the steps that you will take to address both rapid, significant growth and something more modest.
Tip 7: Communication
As you put in place the structure and procedures needed to support your growth, there are bound to be changes. In order to quiet the noise and help employees feel included, communication is key. You will help ease any concerns over the direction of the company, bolster their trust in you and create a unified team of existing and new employees.
You can also ask for their feedback on any concerns they might have about growth or transition and help them anticipate changes before they happen.
Tip 8: Watch your money
Growth is a balance of making and spending money, and this balance has to remain intact at all times so that you don’t find yourself extended financially.
Bringing in more money is great, but you don’t want to just sit on it. As your business grows, your resources need to grow too so that employees don’t feel overwhelmed. This fresh capital can help provide the tools employee need to aid the growth process. This might be temporary help or bonuses for overtime, or access to outside vendors for tasks like answering phones, printing proposals, or other administrative help. The more you can assist your employees, the more likely they are to handle the growth.
Could you be facing rapid growth?
Aside from the obvious signs of growth such as the phone ringing off the hook and more orders that you can handle, here are some less obvious symptoms related to rapid growth:
- Orders not being shipped on time/work not being completed on time
- Quality issues with the product or service
- Increase in customer complaints
- Adding more people is not solving the problems
- Employees unable to keep up with demands of the role
- Employees questioning fairness, consistency, processes
In summary, those who plan for growth are not only more likely to achieve it, they will find the process smoother and more manageable. If you feel you might be facing rapid growth and need some assistance putting together strategies to help see you through, please contact us and ask how we can help.