In theory, one of the most enjoyable things about running your own business should be watching it grow. In reality, growth presents new challenges that can put a real damper on the excitement if your business isn’t prepared. What you’re probably hoping for is consistent, sustainable growth throughout your journey, but you’re more likely to see initial growth in fits and starts. Rapid expansion can open doors for your business and offer new opportunities for your staff to shine, but it pays to prepare for the increase in pressure and potential obstacles presented by the sudden uptick in demand. Here are some of the challenges your business might face, and some ideas for how you can get on top of them.
Back when your business was small and manageable, you could probably identify trends and understand the effects of your decisions without having to reach out for assistance. But once your business grows, it can be hard to see the wood for the trees. At a certain point of complexity, your organisation may benefit from a system that tells you more about the intricacies of your operation. Business intelligence (BI) uses data-driven services and software to shed light on important considerations for business strategy. Business Intelligence analyses your business data and presents it in a range of useful forms, such as graphs, summaries, reports, dashboards, maps and charts, offering you all the information you need to understand your business and make the right decisions going forward. Business Intelligence might sound futuristic, but there are numerous software packages out there that make it easy.
More Red Tape
As a small business, you may have been exempt from certain regulations that apply now that you’re taking a bigger slice of the market. The bigger your organisation becomes, the more compliance responsibilities it will have to satisfy. Trade regulations protect people and the market, but they do require a little more due diligence then you’re probably used to. This trend will continue as your business grows, so it’s worth laying firm groundwork now to create good compliance habits within your organisation. It may be necessary hire experts to ensure that you’re ticking all the right boxes, and you may need to invest in extra training to get your employees up to speed with additional regulations.
When the extra work starts pouring in, your staff might find it exhilarating at first, especially if they have been with you from the start. Think of chefs in a busy restaurant kitchen: there is something really exciting and motivating about having to work together under pressure. Many people will get a kick out of the added pressure and even thrive for a while. But even if you reward your employees for the extra time and effort, soon enough they will start to tire and resent the unfair demands placed on them. Adding people to your workforce is an essential part of growing your business, and it’s best not to wait until it’s too late. Highly pressurised periods are not the best time for training new people, as you probably need all hands on deck. Ideally, use quieter times to recruit, hire and train, preparing your team for the new workload ahead of time. Realistically though, you can’t always prepare for a boom. You may need to find staff at short notice and you may not have the time to sift through piles of CVs for the ideal candidate. Look into recruitment options to find reliable solutions. Once you’ve hired extra hands, you’ll need to be prepared for the additional administrative complexity in terms of payroll and HR paperwork. When your business is suddenly stretched, taking advantage of automated software solutions for HR management and payroll will ensure that your employees get the pay and holiday they deserve. A final thing to bear in mind when hiring new staff is the effect that new personalities might have on the culture of your organisation. Getting your employees involved in recruitment can be a good way to foster cohesion among your more diverse workforce.
Supply Chain Struggles
Maintaining a functioning supply chain is key to the survival of your business. Rapid growth means increased customer demand, and if you can’t meet that demand, you risk losing your precious new customers to your competitors. Successfully managing a steady supply chain through the growth period will come down to the accuracy of your projections. Closely examine your historic sales data and produce medium and long-term forecasts to give you a sense of the future demands you’ll need to meet in terms of product and staffing. Also, remember that the pillars of your supply chain are your suppliers. A growth phase is not the time to put all your eggs in one basket. Even if you have one main supplier, make sure you nurture relationships with a diverse supplier network, so you have backups when demand exceeds your usual partner’s capacity.
Expanding Customer Needs
Growth is a result of increasing demand for your product. This means more customers than ever are relying on you to deliver the product or service promised by your good reputation. Whatever you do, don’t make assumptions about your customers based on the information you gathered when you first got established. Your larger client base might include a range of new demographics, which means a greater range of needs and expectations waiting to be met. If your business is in a growth phase, now is the time to get your hands on as much customer data as possible. More customers mean more opportunities to find out exactly what your customer wants. Look into the most effective data collection methods for your business, and treat reaching out to your customer as an opportunity to establish strong relationships based on trust.
Growth be an exciting time for any business. Not only does it promise increased revenue and new opportunities, but it can revitalise commitment and morale within your hardworking team. But if you aren’t ready for it, growth can take its toll. Preparing your business for these challenges will ease the growing pains and help you embrace the future with confidence.