Some business owners are so confident in their abilities that they don’t consider getting an outside opinion. With growth comes new and unfamiliar challenges, so smart business owners will talk to a consultant, mentor, or other industry experts to discover issues they may have overlooked.
Growth is a blessing but it can also be stressful when deciding how much additional help you’ll need to manage that growth. The right balance can be tricky. One consideration may be to hire ahead of the need. SCORE, which provides free online and face-to-face business counseling, mentoring, training, business, and advice for small businesses, recommends hiring a chief operating officer and/or chief financial officer if you’re growing fast—even if only on a part-time or consulting basis.
When your company was small it was okay for you to be the boss, the worker, the secretary, and the accountant. But now it’s just not practical to do everything yourself—so STOP! SCORE recommends delegating day-to-day operations to others so you can become the leader you were meant to be. Get comfortable in your new role as the strategic thinker and the planner—in other words, the CEO.
Some customers are more trouble than they are worth. If they don’t sufficiently contribute to the bottom line, then weed them out. Now that you have this added business coming in, you want to make sure that you can provide them with your best service and attention, and you can’t do that with customers that fracture your core business. SCORE suggests cutting customers who distract you from your goal—for example, because they are outside the area in which you want to work or take too much of your time.
Now that you’ve cut the bad customers, it’s time to treat your existing customers even better. Now that you may have less time to interact directly with your customers, it’s a good idea to put some mandatory customer relations practices into effect. Know their needs and deliver, and give your staff the power they need to keep customer happy. Lastly, communicate with customers about the changes that are taking place within the company.
Of course you’re loyal to your current group of suppliers and vendors but the truth is that they might not be able to handle this rush of new business. The worst thing that could happen is that they can’t deliver on a promise, which means that you can’t deliver on your promise to your new clients. So begin expanding your network by asking for recommendations. Your current vendors may even be willing to suggest a company they’ve done work with in the past.
It’s a smart idea to save some reserve capital to weather growth’s inevitable bumps, suggests SCORE. The important thing is that you have assets that can be turned into cash quickly if you don’t actually have cash reserves. Those assets might be excellent receivables or equipment.
-- Nicole Marie Richardson