If you've ever tried a new gym routine, you know that the process breaks down into three parts: a focused start, rapid improvement ,and a grueling plateau.

Those first few pounds just fall right off, but the wall separating you and each pound thereafter becomes more challenging to scale by the day. It's not that you don't know how to workout or eat properly, it's that making marked progress beyond a certain stage often requires a change in the routine.

Entrepreneurs experience a similarly enlightening process when transitioning their companies into the growth stage.

First, there was the delirious mad dash to discover the minimum viable product, complete with research and round after round of prototyping. That's followed (hopefully) by a steady increase in sales and adoption as the product starts hitting the marketplace.

And then...well that's where things get tricky. In order to prepare for growth, there are some things to keep in mind for the journey.

Can  you survive the trek?

Talking about hyper growth is all the rage. Who wouldn't want to see aggressive year-over-year growth for their business?

If you research those who have experienced rapid growth, you'll find inspiring tales of revenue and market domination. However, what you don't always hear about is how painful growth can be.

Sure, you've set goals and you have great ideas for a great new business. But what happens when you have to hire and find the current talent pool is not quite as advanced as you had hoped?  Suddenly you're forced  adjust your onboarding practices and dedicate more time to training and oversight.

Simultaneously you might find you didn't have the right processes and procedures in place for this crop of new hires to follow, or that the old way of doing things (in pretty much every department) is causing more problems than solutions?

Be sure to have a plan for hiring, training and execution to stay structured and on track.

Don't leave your customers behind

You've got their attention, you've created a solution with their needs in mind, and if you're lucky, they like your product. But what are your plans to mature the relationship?

Beware of the curse of spreading too thin or changing your product in an effort to grow. Instead, continue to rely on customer feedback to continue to deliver value.

Like you, customers mature and grow and it's important that they stay with you throughout the journey. Regular message testing, product feedback interviews and analysis of your audience as their pain points evolve will continue to be a vital part of your operation.

Remember: your customers chose you for a reason. Diverting from where you started too rapidly can scare customers away.

Put the right driver behind the wheel

Companies are built on the sweat and tears of their founders. And even though they dream of the day they won't have to wear 1,000 different hats, giving up control usually comes with a bit of trepidation. A good driver is one that is not distracted by multiple, unnecessary diversions and know how to properly hire and delegate accordingly.

Research has shown that only a small percentage of founders have the necessary skills needed to ensure company growth and shareholder value beyond a startup's early stage. With that in mind, every successful young company should have a proper, realistic plan in place when rubber hits the road.

Growth is exciting and setting big goals should be in every founder's business plan. However, all the best goals and ideas in the world can't take the place of proper planning.

Knowing how to properly staff for growth, ensuring your customers' needs are met over the long haul, and defining who will be in charge should all be thoroughly planned out. Once your plan is in place, buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Published on: May 25, 2016