As you expand your organization, you will likely encounter some growing pains. However, so long as you know what you’re up against, you will be able to protect yourself.
Let us take a look at some of the most common growing pains businesses face and what you can do to evade them.
1. Staff become unsure about objectives
As a company grows, the objectives of the business will often change or evolve. That is all part of developing and not an issue in and of itself. However, through this process, staff can become confused about what their roles are within the new company vision.
Business leaders can take the following three simple steps to counteract this problem:
- Explain objectives in clear, quantifiable terms. This means giving written or verbal instructions on any new direction.
- Communicate and confirm the employees' understanding. This includes asking open-ended questions so staff explain their comprehension, or giving them a chance to ask questions.
- Re-confirm understanding. After your initial conversation, you need to follow up on the new objectives and check your instructions have stuck!
2. Difficulty managing finances as you grow
One of the most common business growing pains leaders face is not looking closely enough at the sums before expanding. Growth for growth’s sake is a dangerous strategy and you need to ensure that your efforts will reap tangible results.
By taking on bigger clients or more work, you will need to invest, perhaps on new staff, a bigger office space or marketing expenses. But if your overheads are increasing in line with your revenue, then you won’t see any benefits to your profit margin.
Ben Gold, president of capital providers QuickBridge, told Forbes: "I can’t stress enough how vital it is to set benchmarks, forecast your business’s upcoming finances, profits and sales, and stay organized. You want to develop good habits now and stay consistent with them as your business continues to advance."
That is why it is so important to plan ahead and be prepared to reallocate finances as and when necessary.
3. Staff become unmotivated
With small or medium organizations, it is easy for staff to feel a personal attachment to the company. Offices are small, relationships are close and there is lots of contact between business leaders and staff.
However, when a company expands, this attachment becomes diluted. Extra people arrive, managers' time is more in-demand, and employees may become unmotivated.
As a business leader, it is your job to keep your staff engaged in the company. Plan time within your week to chat to staff and make sure they know what they should be doing and are aligned with the company’s direction. In turn, employees will feel respected and will be more engaged with the business.
4. The team stops working together
When businesses grow, it can be difficult for employees to know where they fit within the company. Long-term members of staff may have changing roles, while new hires will be trying to find their place.
Here are three strategies to encourage effective teamwork:
- Create a community. As a leader, you should look to foster a team by creating shared goals. This will make everyone drive towards the same endpoint.
- Set individual goals. You should also give individuals their own targets. This should push everyone to work to their full potential and, therefore, avoid resentment within the group.
- Keep up communication. You also need to provide regular feedback to both the individual and the team. Reward good work when it is justified, and teams will soon work well together.
5. Unwillingness to pivot
One of the hardest lessons for leaders or entrepreneurs is that your first idea isn’t always your best.
Did you know that YouTube was initially intended to be a dating site?
The idea was that singletons would upload videos introducing themselves and explaining what they were looking for in a partner. But when no one had uploaded a video in the first five days, the founders knew they needed to pivot; they opened the platform up to any video.
The alterations you will need to make along the way may be as simple as a price change or as seismic as switching up your business model. Regardless, it is essential that you stay in touch with your customers’ needs and wants, and that you show willingness to be flexible and adapt.
Hasib Howlader is a director at Hudson Weir, a boutique firm of Insolvency Practitioners, as well as a chartered accountant and chartered tax adviser.