You might think that as a business, the secret to success lies in growing your company as fast as you can. But some leading entrepreneurs and business leaders would disagree. Instead, many believe that business success lies in your ability to maintain control: of your company; your culture; and your vision.
Growth can easily become the enemy of control when it happens too fast. Here are four areas of your business where the negative side of growth can emerge if it’s not held in check.
When you start up your business, your focus will be on creating a product or service that meets the needs of your customers. In the beginning you operate on a small scale, so you have personal control of most of the elements that constitute the customer experience.
For a business that experiences rapid growth, the focus can quickly move from product quality to product quantity. If your business sells a product you may find that suppliers will struggle to scale up production as quickly as required. If you provide a service you may find that you are unable to get the staff that you need to support your demand.
In this circumstance, unchecked growth can lead to an erosion of product quality or service experience. Compromises will be made to support increases in scale – such as outsourcing labour or changing supplier to meet volume requirements.
The original standards that were so important may become eroded without quality measures and audits being established. In effect rapid growth can mean that there is simply not enough time to grow the supply chain to meet both the demand and the product and service standards.
Once product quality starts to shift it is not uncommon for existing or established customers to begin to complain or leave. This may be the point that your business discovers that customer service standards can also fall victim to runaway growth.
Small businesses often deliver a personalised service or offer a single point of contact for their customers. Rapid growth can drive a requirement for mass communication and streamlined services that no longer feel personal in their delivery.
If customers perceive a drop in the standards of service or feel that they are not being as well looked after, it won’t take long for them to question their loyalty. Growing too quickly to meet the needs of new business could easily cost you your existing customers.
Many businesses have only one or two employees when they start operations. Business culture is closely tied up in the working style of these employees and the way that they collaborate and interact with external contacts and customers.
When a business begins to grow, the employees will be required to shoulder the increased workload that comes from more customers, more sales, and more product. Rapid uncontrolled growth can lead to a high volume of pressure on a small group of staff.
The infrastructure that supports your employees may not be able to manage this increase in growth. Consider how accounting systems, software, invoicing, and other essential processes will cope if you are growing quickly. Many small businesses rely on manual processes that can quickly become unachievable with extra volume.
If you choose to meet the demands of your growth by increasing your workforce, you will need to recruit fast. But small businesses can be rapidly transformed by the introduction of one of two staff. Recruiting in a rush can easily erode culture.
Rapid growth is expensive. Start up businesses are rarely able to access large amounts of funding so it’s important to maintain a steady stream of income to support the costs of operating the business.
Growth costs money, this is because there is an increase in the infrastructure and raw materials required to support it. Steady growth can be supplemented with revenue or smart finances. Excessive growth may find companies relying increasingly on debt or selling off equity to support their operation. Without healthy margins and sufficient sales, this could undermine the self-sustaining goals of the business.
If you run your own business it’s natural that you should focus on its growth. But it’s important that your growth does not come at the cost of all the elements that define what your business is to your customers.
There is a challenging balance to be found between a business growing too fast and missing out on the next big opportunity. Fifo Capital Business Partners have extensive experience helping businesses grow sustainably.Get in touch today and let us help you continue to build on your business success.