As your company grows, the way you operate it will invariably change. As you add new people and processes, you may not be able to attend to every employee and customer as you have in the past. With new faces comes new ways of doing things and interacting with the people who have been loyally buying from your business. Cash may be tight as you allocate money for various investments, payroll, and equipment.
Managing fast growth in a way that doesn't damage the very attributes that made your customers love your business in the first place is a challenge. Here are five ways to grow and keep your company running smoothly.
1. Analyze everything
As your business grows, capturing and analyzing data is essential for creating a growth map. Review where your profit centers are, who your best customers are, and who contributes to key points in the supply chain, says Robert J. Phillipps, national sales director, Retail Business Banking at Citibank.
Your analysis may lead to changes. For example, you may reserve certain payment terms or credit limits for high-volume clients with strong payment histories, he says. Suppliers or vendors who hinder production or quality may need to be replaced.
2. Seek timely financial advice
Growing companies encounter new expenses. A good banker can help you spot opportunities, and provide assistance and suggestions, Phillipps says.
Let's say you own a dental practice, and you've outgrown your current location. Your banker may help you choose a loan option to purchase a new location rather than tap into the company's financial resources or be compelled to give up ownership to private investors, Phillipps says. So, be sure to keep your banker apprised of business decisions.
3. Prioritize your investments
When you're making decisions about where to invest in your business, you need to think about short-term and long-term goals. Growing companies face liquidity challenges, so every investment must have a purpose. For example, growing manufacturing companies may invest in new equipment and materials to produce goods to expand. At some point, the company may need additional capital from a lender to assist with scaling.
4. Create processes and systems
As your company grows, you'll need to delegate more tasks and responsibilities. Hire the right team members and implement systems that will help your employees deliver the quality and service customers expect.
Let's say you own a retail business and hire a manager who will be spending more time at one place as you plan to expand into other locations. Spend time training them to recognize valued customers and learn their preferences. For example, you may greet daily customers at your bakery by name and begin preparing their regular orders when they walk in the door. Such recognition and service make customers feel special, no matter who is helping them.
5. Keep in touch with customers
Find ways to capture customer feedback and get their impressions. Use customer surveys, monitor comments on social media, and encourage personal emails or phone calls when customers have questions or want to share their experiences with your business. Their concerns may give you valuable insight into what's working well and where you might need to focus on improvement. If your customers engage with your website, think about adding a chat bot.
While you work hard to grow your business, managing that growth in a way that delivers consistent quality and service and consistent cash flow is essential to long-term sustainability. By following these steps, you may be better able to head off growth-related issues before they start.