It really is an interesting time for your business, isn't it? Sales are rolling in, and your customers are happy. Your employees are highly engaged and going full tilt.
You're now in a position where you need to answer some serious questions. Are you willing to do what it takes to expand? Do you have what it takes--in your head and in your gut--to enter a serious growth phase?
In the recent Oracle/Inc. study of the fastest-growing private companies in America, when asked the question, "what is the biggest obstacle to your company's growth," the number one response was the inability to manage fast growth.
While the respondents saw the inability to manage fast growth as an obstacle, they felt it was clearly surmountable. The proof? The "ability to scale" was listed just behind sales as a top reason why their company was able to succeed to the point of being named as an Inc. 5000 honoree.
Companies who can successfully scale and grow become market leaders and, perhaps, even household names. So before you decide to enter a high-growth phase, here are five indications that you are ready to make such a move.
1. Your head and heart are in the right place.
You had a good idea. You turned it into a business. You've gotten off to a great start. But, this is where the real work begins.
Migrating from a start-up to a fast-growing company requires passion, dedication, and near total immersion. You must deal with pressure and incredible anxiety, take on enormous responsibility, and still manage to balance other aspects of your life―like family and health.
Ask yourself if this is for you? If you can't imagine yourself doing anything else with your life and are convinced (beyond a shadow of a doubt) that you will not just survive but thrive, then you may have what it takes to jump on the road to growth.
2. The money is starting to roll in.
Congratulations! You have started a business, and people are actually paying you for your products and/or services.
Pat yourself on the back. Many start-ups don't even reach that stage.
Of course, revenue alone doesn't make a functioning business. Revenue and profits are two very different things. Is your business model structured in a way that you're not just making a profit today but can continue to be profitable?
If you are already profitable or can see a rational and clear path to scalable and sustainable profitability, you may actually be on the road to growth.
3. You have assembled a killer team that has what it takes to manage a much larger business.
There are endless stories of friends, relatives, classmates, and colleagues starting a business together only to find out that old relationships aren't enough to fuel a successful and scalable business.
Even teams that have successfully launched a business may not have the skill sets required to lead and scale that business over the long-term.
Growth only happens when all needed "human elements" are in place. This means people who have either worked in a large and thriving business or understand the technologies needed are the right employees to fuel sustainable, scalable growth.
Look at your current team. Do you have those people? The ones who can lead and inspire and know how to manage people? Are they masters of sales, finance, marketing, communications, and logistics? If not, can they learn to be?
If the answer to these questions is a resounding "yes," then you are almost certainly ready for growth.
4. You have enough cash in the bank or cash you can bank on.
Cash flow crises are the number one killer of small companies.
Experts agree that growth should be guided by a business's ability to generate and manage cash, not simply by making a profit.
When businesses grow, cash can be consumed by any number of incremental expenses including higher rent, utilities, payroll, and inventory costs. If you are planning to grow, then you must have far more cash at your fingertips than you need to just make payroll. You need to have cash available to put back into the business.
If you are confident that you can cover additional outlays and can weather any number of storms (anticipated and unanticipated), then your prospects for growth look awfully good.
5. You have your processes in place.
When you're just starting out, you can get away with "flying by the seat of your pants." But as you grow, there must be processes and systems in place to deal with volume spikes and dips.
Take a good look at your current processes. Are they paper driven? Are they over-reliant on spreadsheets? Are there inefficiencies? Are there black holes where key data disappears? Are there gaps in communication?
Conversely, have you made a real effort to establish automated and integrated processes that will allow your business to scale? Have you invested in a software solution that allows you to track finances, sales, and talent, without having to pull out a calculator and do manual computations? Do you have the tools that provide real-time information on your expenses, sales, logistics, and other essential metrics? Are best practices baked into all of your business functions?
If you can confidently answer "yes" to those questions and have invested in the kinds of solutions that will allow you to grow and scale exponentially, then you are already well on the road to growth, expansion, and success!
To learn more about how effectively manage the growth you need to "get going, get better, get ahead," download our newest ebook (based on an Inc. Oracle joint survey our joint survey) - Company Growth Costing You Sleep? SMB Leaders' Top Expansion Challenges...and How to Fix Them - today.