So – you’ve taken the plunge, opened your doors, and started your own business. Things are going great – you’ve got regular customers, you’re making sales, and you’re taking enough money to get by. However, to truly meet your ambitions, you want to grow your business. For many, this is an intimidating prospect; after all, we’d challenge you to find a small business owner anywhere who says it’s easy. Growing your business will come with its own unique set of challenges – however, there are some company growth problems all entrepreneurs can relate to. Here, we run through these commonplace issues and explain how to overcome them.
1. Don’t get overwhelmed
Growth equals change – which, unfortunately, psychologists have proven that humans aren’t very good at dealing with. However, if you want to grow your company, it is important to embrace change. After all, growth is natural, and often, some creative destruction will occur. Take these processes for what they are – opportunities that help your business grow. That said, if you begin to feel overwhelmed, take your foot off the gas and allow the processes, controls, and employees to catch up. Remember – too much growth too rapidly can compromise the quality of your service and your financial situation.
2. Be a ‘no’ man
Many entrepreneurs and motivational speakers will sing the praises of positivity – however, it’s arguably more important to know when to say no. For instance, if you’re running a successful startup, there will be a lot of opportunities coming your way. The challenge will be choosing the right ones. The right opportunities will contribute to your business development goals and enhance customer experience. The ‘opportunities’ that do neither of these things should be left alone. You’ll end up trying to take on too much or do too much for too many, which means you’ll end up facing the first of our company growth problems – being overwhelmed.
3. Learn to delegate
When you’re growing your small business, it’s likely you’ll need to expand your team. After all, there’s only so much you can do yourself – so it’s likely you’ll need support to serve customers or manage stock. As a result, business owners need to transition from being doers to managers. It might sound like a no-brainer, but lots of entrepreneurs find it challenging – after all, driven people tend to like to be in control. However, facing up to the fact that you can’t do it alone is an important part of the process.
4. Hire smart
Hiring the wrong people can be expensive, time-consuming, and risky. If a company grows quickly, some small business owners will panic and hire people too hastily, making big decisions based on too little evidence. Therefore, hiring mistakes is one of the key company growth problems. To mitigate this risk, entrepreneurs need to make sure they have a robust interview process. For example, business owners should hire against a competency scorecard and conduct multiple interviews. Once you take on a new hire, there should be a thorough onboarding process and mentoring program.
5. Be a leader
Once you’ve mastered delegating and hired new team members, the next challenge you must face is transitioning from business owner to leader. Evolving into a leader means mentoring your staff, ensuring they can help drive your business forward. This transition will require emotional intelligence, engagement, and empathy. Being a mentor or coach means you need to get to know your employees, listen to their problems, and nurture their ambitions. This requires a shift of mindset from seeing the business as something that’s solely about you to understanding the company’s success relies on many individuals.
6. Properly manage cash flow
During periods of growth, cash flow management should be a number one priority. Sometimes, entrepreneurs can get caught up in the excitement and forget that they need to manage cash on a daily basis. This attention is critical when a business is growing, as investment is essential to successful business development. For example, it’s likely that you’ll need to invest in people, inventory and technology. Furthermore, business owners need to appreciate that they might not be able to afford all available growth. Therefore, they need to ensure that they don’t put their resources under too much pressure, making sure that their credit cards, loan repayments, and checkbooks are carefully managed.
7. Don’t spend too much time putting out fires
Rapid growth can have a tendency to create a chaotic working environment. Often, small business owners can find themselves fixing mistakes all of the time. This can lead to the owner taking on the role of ‘firefighter’, or the person that spends all their time correcting errors. However, entrepreneurs need to take time to plan growth and streamline systems. This is challenging when you’re spending too much time managing employee conflicts, correcting orders or dealing with angry customers. However, you need to ensure you have the discipline to remove yourself from these situations in order to reduce the frequency of ‘fires’ through planning and streamlining.
9. Understand that company growth is continuous
Finally, of all the challenges you’ll face, the most enduring is the fact that growth will never end. After all, most ambitious entrepreneurs will want to see their venture go from strength to strength. However, most people learn about the challenges of continuous growth the hard way – for example, many people observe that solutions that worked at one stage may be insufficient for the next level. Therefore, it is essential that you and your employees are open to learning and adaptation. With a flexible, open-minded approach, entrepreneurs and their team can tackle company growth problems at every stage of the business’s life cycle.