Coping with the rapid growth of small business getting bigger
by Victoria Lim
So, your business is growing, and you have to not only begin to think about restructuring some of your fundamental ways of handling business, you also have to deal with the physical move to a new space, and keep up with the client and employee demands.
It can all seem more than a little overwhelming, so we offer some advice on how not to lose focus while rushing to meet the company expansion. These are not definitive methods that are guaranteed to work, but guidelines that you’ll have to adapt to best suit the company.
Diagnose your growth
One of the first things that need to be done is to diagnose what kind of changes your company’s growth will bring along, and whether you can “cushion them”. The best strategy is to ask yourself the following questions:
- Is your growth bringing in more employees?
- Is there enough financial coverage for the rate and tempo of the growth?
- Are there enough resources to fulfill the demand?
- Do you have upper management skilled enough to take on new, possibly more demanding tasks?
Asking questions like these and many others you alone come up with is actually a great way to observe your business (and its future!) objectively.
Focused on the customers
When small companies start to get recognition that results in rapid expansion, what easily happens is that the customer service quality drops. Once your business appears on that market “radar”, potential big-league companies pick up on the signal and offer to buy you out. It’s important to resist the temptations of a quick payoff, and focus on your users/customers.
They are the ones whose experiences bring the payoff in the long term, what with word-of-mouth advertising and a steady conversion rate. Push additional staff and resources into customer service during the expansion as, right after the employees, the customers should feel no drop in quality due to your growth.
Define company values
One thing that will be inevitably felt throughout the company is the change in atmosphere among your employees. What started as a partnership between friends or family, and turned into a small start-up with what felt like a family is now a full-blown company where fresh faces become commonplace.
It may be sad to see the family-like dynamic go, but a cordial professional relationship works much better and is healthier for a big company than a more personal familiarity. However, you should define the kind of values your business will support and reward, so you can screen your new employees based on them. The same values that made your company successful should be the ones that push it even further.
The physical move
As your company expands and hires more staff, chances are that you will be moving to a bigger office. When this happens along with other management changes you need to stay on top of, it can be extremely difficult to watch over the moving process as well.
You can hire an outside company that will first survey the entire shift, then start moving the less crucial electronics and furniture during the week and storing them in storage units, where they will be safe until the weekend of the actual big move.
Even if you can’t admit that the company growth is overwhelming you, there is no shame in feeling it and thinking it. You can ease the pressure by assigning roles to your most trusted people, but you also have to learn that leadership is (not counting strategic skills), knowing how to put out fires as quickly as they arise.
This means keeping an eye out for your employees, rewarding them incentives for extra work, as a rapid expansion is usually followed by longer hours. Make sure you have enough resources and manpower, and check in with everyone as often as you can. The future of your company rests on their sense of security and satisfaction.
We already mentioned that being wary of big-league investors is a good thing, in the beginning. Your focus should be on the revenue coming from the customers, as they define how your product evolves and where the brand will go a year, five, or ten from now.
This is why it’s also good to look at your financial plan, or even hire an outside experts, like professional tax specialists, experienced accountants, bookkeepers, etc. to help you oversee your finances, and how they will change due to the growth.
Start making quarterly and yearly plans, start writing everything down in actual spreadsheets and save all the paperwork, as this is the perfect opportunity (better than much later) where you will learn how to best manage the company money.
As chaotic as a company growth can be, it’s far from something beyond your control. When you determine the reasons and possible consequences of it, it becomes a little easier to define what the next steps are.
Depending on your business model, customer base and values, you will be able to anticipate possible problems and deal with them accordingly. Expect the unexpected, and learn as much as you can, so that when the company experiences another growth, you can approach it fear-free.
About the Author
Victoria Lim is a lifestyle writer and a true home improvement and DIY fanatic in constant pursuit of trying something new. She’s in love with life, love, and self-love. Her fields of expertise include home decor, interior and exterior design, landscaping and walking a dog for miles. Psychology is also a topic she likes to explore along with a nice cup of green tea.