Growing your business is exciting, but it can also be scary, especially when you're not sure if you're ready to take the leap. There are many problems that you can potentially encounter along the way, but if you hold back, your business may never take off. But how do you know when you're ready? It's important to balance growth, i.e. hiring new staff, ramping up sales, etc., and demand for your products as you begin to scale up. Read on to learn about some common internal problems that your business may encounter during growth, and what you can do to avoid these pitfalls.
Problem 1: Scaling Too Soon
As a business owner, growth is undoubtedly one of your main objectives. As soon as you start selling more, you can start expanding your services or product line, which in turn, brings in more income. But scaling too soon can result in unbalanced growth. You may grow your sales and marketing teams before anyone is even interested in your product, or you may grow too fast without the right management structure in place. It's easy to get lopsided - one team grows faster as it's needed, and then other teams are lacking when things pick up, which leaves you struggling to catch up. Be wary of this, and try your best to hire evenly across departments, grow steadily, and make sure that you're in a good financial place before pushing for growth.
Having the infrastructure in place is just one piece of the puzzle. It's important to look at the technology you use as well. Today, most business technology is built to scale up as you do. When you are looking into the right software to use for different business applications, make sure that what you choose to work with can grow with your company. This includes your website, your sales tools, your training and human resources, your production, and your fulfillment. Growth is a delicate balance between each of these elements, and expanding in only one area should be avoided.
Problem 2: Not Building A Solid Foundation of Demand
Growing your business before building a buzz among an audience can be problematic. Before introducing new products or services, make sure that you have plenty of hungry fans and customers who are dedicated to what you are already offering. While it's important to look at both your marketing and your sales, don't go crazy growing both of these teams right away. Before you can even start to think about scaling, there has to be a solid demand.
In the same vein, you must scale the customer service side of your operations as well. Many smaller businesses pride themselves on excellent customer service. It can set you apart from your competitors. And when you are starting to build a larger customer base, they will want to know that you're still easy to get in touch with and responsive to their needs.
Demand doesn't simply grow from a cool product. Your business has to be unified on all fronts. Your sales team, your marketing team, and your customer service team all need to be on the same page and scaling at an even rate. Marketing can create a buzz, sales can identify potential customers, and customer service can make sure they're happy. It's your goal to delight and surprise your customers every step of the way, and work to create fans for life.
Problem 3: Hiring The Wrong Team
When you start a business, your initial team isn't simply made up of workers. Those who make up your leadership team have to live and breathe your business. Remember, when you bring someone on to work with you, you can't just think about how they might help your business in the short term. You want to establish relationships that will last well into the future and fit in well with the bigger picture of your business.
Now is the time to focus on building a culture of communication and transparency to get off on the path towards growth. It's easier to build a great culture early, rather than trying to change your culture further down the line. Seek to understand what drives your team and make sure your business objectives stay in line with these ideals. Sometimes, you need to slow down and focus on establishing what's expected of your employees and building trust and respect.
One of the biggest challenges that growing businesses face is gaps in skills, which leaves unqualified team members scrambling to do tasks that fall outside their defined scope. It isn't only important to hire the right team, it's also necessary to make those hires at the right time. Be sure to notice when gaps do arise and ask your current employees for references for new hires. Hiring from within current employees' networks can save you time on recruitment, but do conduct extensive interviews to make sure the new hires will be a great fit.
Problem 4: Not Changing Your Internal Structure
As your business scales, your structure and management will need to adapt. Managing a small team is much different from managing people across multiple departments and projects. As a CEO, you can't do it all, and it isn't your job to do so. As each team within your business grows, hire managers that fit in with your culture, and share your objectives. You should have a clear chain of command and a management tree, so it's easy to understand who reports to who, and which teams are responsible for projects and tasks. Also, be sure to rely on clear workflows instead of legacy knowledge. Relying on legacy knowledge could mean that you lose years of information if a manager decides to quit or gets fired abruptly.
Growing means relinquishing some control so you can focus on more important tasks, so be sure to hire people you trust to run integral projects and tasks within your company. Remember, the managers who you hire are often experts in their fields and love your business just as much as you do. Be ready to trust their expertise and work with them as a team. A business that's poised for growth has no room for competing egos. And the structure that's needed to start a business isn't always the same structure that's needed for growth.
A business that grows easily is one that can handle change and adapt. You will face changing markets, and you'll need to update your internal structure to meet and increase demand. While a flat management structure may have worked in the beginning, asking a single person to manage a huge team will result in stressed management and unhappy employees.
Problem 5: Pushing Off Important Issues
Any issues that you have now will only get bigger as your business does, so it's important to tackle them early. When scaling happens quickly, there are bound to be growing pains. As a leader, it's your job to face issues head-on and make sure they don't get larger. If you have a problem with your product, fix it before it causes your current customers to look elsewhere. Change suppliers, optimize your production, or do whatever you need to make sure you don't fall behind on demand.
There are also bound to be issues that affect your personnel as well. Poor managers, interpersonal conflict, and bad employee behavior can all affect company morale, so you need to fix these problems before your entire company starts to suffer. Remember that part of growth is also trimming out employees, projects, and processes that become obsolete or no longer serve a purpose. Don't ignore this just to avoid rocking the boat. If you unnecessary employees or poor performers on your payroll, it can cut into your profits more than you realize.
Problem 6: Focusing Solely On Growth
Growth should be a goal, and not just a means to an end. At its core, innovation is what really drives growth, so if you make innovation one of your main focuses, growth will follow. While it's important to have a growth-minded staff, it shouldn't be the only thing on their mind. Hire "ideas" people, creative workers who can approach challenging tasks with a unique perspective, and make sure to create the right environment for innovation.
Don't neglect your own training as well. As a business owner, you need to focus on growing your own skills and keeping up with the latest technology and push relentlessly for your staff to do the same. When you build a strong foundation of knowledge, communication, and innovation, you'll be able to scale your business quickly and safely.
Ready To Grow?
Before you take the leap towards scaling up your business, avoid these common problems. Focus on building solid infrastructure and a trustworthy management team in order to keep employee morale high. After all, your employees are what keep your business running! As a business owner, it's your job to tackle problems as they arise and scale evenly across all departments. Keeping this in mind can help you start heading in the right direction!