As a business owner your ultimate goal is growth. After all, when your business grows it's a sign that you've finally made a name for yourself and have a steady cash flow.
But, what if you aren't prepared to handle the increased workload? They may sound like a good problem to have, but it can ultimately be disastrous for your business.
To avoid this problem, you need to scale appropriately and be prepared on all fronts? Sound complicated? Not if you follow these 7 tips.
1. Build a strong foundation.
How can you expect to weather the storm of growth if you haven't built a solid foundation? Ask yourself if your business is already running like a well-oiled machine? Before you start increasing your workload make sure that your standard business operations are smooth.
Do you have the right systems in place? These systems include the tools and processes to manage workflow. Have you moved yourself forward with a stronger online presence? Your online game should be in place. It will ensure that you don't miss out on any lead generation opportunities.
Social media acumen helps you be prepared to handle rapid growth.
2. Have your finances in order.
Attempting to juggle your current expenses while securing additional funding may be difficult. Have your funds in place for new employees, equipment and additional inventory. Finding a larger workspace is stressfully difficult. Have some locations scoped-out that you could move into.
Consider putting the wheels in motion to secure lines of credit through loans and crowdfunding. This ensures that you have the money upfront to meet the demands that come with hyper growth.
Have these financial tools in place first before losing sleep over new sources of funding.
3. Keep your existing customers happy.
Don't neglect your existing customers.
Entrepreneur Iain Johnson in states in The Times, "Customers have the most relevant ideas, the most immediate feedback, they are increasingly happy to help (through social media) and they pay the bills. So put in place a formal approach for listening to customers all the time and acting on their input."
Even if you can no longer manage that instant one-on-one contact that you provided during your early states, automation can help. Provide your customers help to solve mundane problems or answer common questions. This will also shorten response times and lessen the workload of your employees.
4. Hire the right team.
Putting together your All-Star team is non-negotiable. Your team has the ability to make or break your business. That's why you need to recruit and hire people who can effectively run each of their departments independently. Make sure they are smarter than you, are ambitious, dedicated, and can roll with the punches.
If you're not exactly ready to make these new hires, then start working with contractors and freelancers. There are freelance accountants, designers, writers, and virtual assistants.
Instead of waiting until you're swamped, take your time to find talented individuals that you trust to handle tedious tasks. There is work that you either don't want to or don't have the time to bother with, now.
5. Subtract while you add.
"Scaling is actually a problem of less," argues Bob Sutton, organizational behavior expert at Stanford's School of Engineering (via HBR). "There are lots of things that used to work that don't work anymore, so you have to get rid of them."
Sutton continues, "There are probably a bunch of things you've always done that slowed you down without you realizing it."
For example, Donna Morris, senior VP for HR at Adobe, eliminated performance reports so that employees were freed of tedious work.
Chris Fry, while still at Twitter, made team members hand over their phones during meetings so that meetings were shorter and more effective.
6. Find a mentor.
A business mentor is someone who has been there and done that.
Because of their experience, you can learn from their mistakes. Your mentor can teach you how they handled rapid growth and balanced work and life.
These angels even provide someone to vent to when you feel completely overwhelmed.
7. Always refer back to your business plan.
As business grows, you may have no business opportunities that are outside of your original vision and business model.
For instance, maybe you started a residential painting company. Now you can handle painting commercial properties like office buildings and warehouses.
Sure. It's a great opportunity. But can you still accommodate your existing customers? Do you have the resources, equipment, and skill-set to handle these larger jobs?
You're going to have to answer these tough questions quickly. That's why you need to have a strong business plan in place so that you can refer to it when scaling.
Referring back to your business plan will make sure that your new business opportunities align with your original vision.
Your business plan and vision will help you turn down new opportunities that don't align with your purpose.
Now you can focus on your current clients. Your new team members will acquire new contacts, and prepare for the future. You develop new skills and hire the right team members.
With this new skill set, you can be out obtaining new sources of funding with confidence.