It’s a dynamic time for any small business: that moment when you start gaining traction and things really begin to take off. But as exciting as it is, rapid growth can also bring with it many challenges, from maintaining quality control and client relationships to heightened time and cash flow pressures.
One of the clues lies in the name itself. After all, small businesses are … small … businesses. When you’re running a lean operation with all hands on deck, it doesn’t take a lot of growth to find yourself suddenly overwhelmed with the day-to-day tasks of running your business. Problem is, if you’re flat out working in your business each day, who’s working on the bigger picture to ensure your growth is managed effectively?
Some things to keep in mind.
The following list is by no means an exhaustive one. But here are five ‘big-picture’ things to keep in mind as your small business begins to grow.
1. Never stop learning
Just because you’re enjoying some success right now doesn't guarantee it will continue forever. Industries, markets and customers are constantly changing and evolving, so making time to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and modifying your business practices accordingly is essential. It might be something as simple as attending a workshop or conference, investing in new product research, or even testing different ways to promote your business to new and existing customers. Remember, when your competitors are constantly moving forward standing still is, effectively, going backwards.
2. Build a quality support network
There will almost certainly come a moment when you’ll need more formal structures to keep track of your growing business and its finances. A key part of doing this involves building a solid network of professional advisers you can trust. People like your accountant, solicitor, banking representative and insurance broker are all experts in their fields, and can provide invaluable assistance in navigating both the opportunities and pitfalls of a growing business.
3. Always remember your customers
As your revenue and bottom line begin to grow it can be a pretty big deal. But be careful not to be too distracted by the numbers. Ultimately, growth only continues if your customers continue to be happy with the products or services you provide. Communication is paramount in maintaining loyalty and satisfaction levels. People want to feel appreciated, no matter how big your business becomes. So keep in contact – and keep listening.
4. Make technology work for you
Growth often places huge demands on a business owner’s time. If that sounds like you, it makes sense to harness every bit of technology you can find to help free up your time as well as that of your other key managers. Consider how you might be able to use simple templates and automated client and supplier communications, for example. Cloud-based solutions are also becoming increasingly sophisticated, allowing businesses to perform more and more core functions remotely, meaning you can effectively be in two places at once.
Running a business can be an intense experience. Even the most motivated of owners can only sustain so much effort and passion for so long. Without taking the occasional break to catch your breath, your energy levels will inevitably begin to wane through the effects physical and/or emotional burnout – something that can affect the quality of your performance and even that of the business itself. Try to plan in breaks at regular intervals to keep yourself fresh, and be on the lookout to hire people who you can trust to share your vision, even if it’s just for a few days here and there while you’re away.
More information for growing businesses.
If you’re interested in finding out more about how to effectively manage your growing business, the Australian Government produces a range of useful tools. One of the best is the 68-page ‘Growing a Business Checklist.’ You can download it right now using the link, below.