When running a business, many business owners want their businesses to grow. But once things start to take off, a whole new set of challenges tend to present themselves. Here are a few tips that can be useful when navigating a period of growth and expansion.
1. Don’t Lose Sight of the “Why.” Seeing the business grow is exciting, but it’s important to stay focused on the mission. A rapidly growing business can sometimes take off in a direction that doesn’t align with that mission. Periods of growth are an opportune time to reflect and realign with the “why.”
2. Learn to Delegate. Entrepreneurs often try to manage every aspect of the business from marketing to production to distribution to accounting. As the business expands, business owners must delegate. If business owners feel overwhelmed, that's a good time to examine the workload. Are there aspects of the workload that could be handled efficiently, or even better, by someone else?
3. Hire with Culture in Mind. Retention of quality talent is essential to the long-term success of a business. When searching for new hires, consider how candidates will do in the company’s culture. Of course, credentials are important, but the candidate that looks the best on paper is not always the best fit.
4. Listen to Customers. Customers are the life force of a company. Never lose touch with what the customers want out of the brand. Especially in periods of rapid growth, be sure to focus on customer experience. Show customers that you care through meaningful communication and requests for feedback.
5. Encourage Employee Feedback. It’s vital to listen to employees. During an expansion, lots of things shift and employees are invaluable sources of information. Their insight into what needs revision or improvement can help the business continue to grow with grace and agility.
6. Analyze Inefficiencies. In addition to listening to employees, seek out inefficiencies in the processes already in place. Is there a manual task that could be automated? Are employees spending too much time on tasks that don’t benefit overall productivity?
7. Reduce Regulation Risk. A growing business has to be on the lookout for new government and industry regulations. Growth can take many different forms–expanding the markets, utilizing new sales channels, teaming up with a distributor, rolling out new products, etc. Big changes like these may mean dealing with different regulations. Do the homework to ensure compliance.
8. Integrate Processes. When a business is starting out, the decision is often made to go with the most economical software makes sense. But once the company starts to grow, this can result in patching different systems together, which can become problematic. Disparate systems can bog down production, cause internal issues and diminish the customer experience. Switching to a comprehensive business management system allows all departments to communicate effectively and efficiently. It also allows you to access all the data you need at any time, rather than having to gather it from multiple programs.
9. Make Scalability a Priority. Always consider the scalability of the decisions. Demand fluctuates over time, and (if things keep going this way) you will need to account for more growth in the future. Make sure changes made can accommodate even greater growth down the road.
10. Bring in an Expert. All of this may sound daunting to tackle on the own, but the good news is no one has to toe the line alone. Partner with someone that can you avoid pitfalls.
Joel Patterson (www.JoelPatterson.com) is the founder of The Vested Group, a business technology consulting firm in Texas, and ForbesBooks author of The Big Commitment: Solving The Mysteries Of the ERP Implementation.