We all dream of growing our businesses – in fact, the reason we go into business is to see it expand, grow, evolve, become the best version of itself it can be.
However, the majority of businesses fail to achieve this.
We can spend several days here talking about what lies behind the outcomes. Is it money, is its ownership, is it the product? Why does the majority fail, and only a tiny minority make it to the finish line?
Ultimately, I personally believe that the one thing that makes this difference is drive.
But that’s just me.
Let’s explore what you can do to keep on playing, at least for another quarter.
Plan to Plan
It might sound too much like stating the obvious, but the first thing any growing business (any business of any kind, in fact) needs to have is a plan.
Let’s assume you have made a decent plan to get you started. Even though it might feel like foreshadowing, and like jumping the gun way too early, you also need to have a plan in place for growth.
When will you need to hire additional staff? At what point do you consider yourself a success? When can you start raising paychecks? When do you need to expand to another space? And what options do you have for financing the expansion as you reach each goal?
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to planning for growth. The reasoning behind it is that you need to set yourself up with the proper milestones that will not only indicate that you’re on the right track, but that will also prevent you from missing your exit, so to speak.
In this case, the proverbial exit would stand for anything you need to do in order to remain scalable and expand. Be it buying a new laptop, or something equally ‘simple’ – the simplest of things can halt your progress for months, and even drive you into the dust.
Play Your Players Perfectly
Another thing that makes or breaks a business is its first hires.
And every time you bring someone new into a small team, they make much more of a difference than they would to a large corporation.
As you start needing more people on board, make sure you are clear about what they need to be doing.
What are the tasks that your present employees can’t cope with? Do you need to bring on someone to do the same thing, or do you have a need for an entirely new set of skills?
Have you considered using technology to get more done? For example, you could use an advanced phone system to answer calls. It can direct some callers to answers and forward others to the appropriate person wherever they are.
Is one of your employees cutting down their hours, in which case you need someone to multitask? How can you create an efficient work schedule for a bigger team?
Another important question to ask yourself is, how does this new person fit into the existing roster you have available. Bear in mind that an amazing A player you are interviewing may not be the right fit, even though they are good at what they do, and a team player as well.
Personalities clash, egos don’t mesh well – all of which can cause unwanted friction in the workplace.
And, the third thing you need to mind when expanding your team is how you are keeping track of them.
It was easy when it was just two employees. But as more and more people come on board, the importance of setting up tracking systems becomes evident.
Prioritize Your Priorities
Directly from your plan stems the need to prioritize efficiently.
Let’s say there are several things at once that need your attention. It could be the question of renting (or buying) a new space. It can be the question of hiring new members of the team. Anything that requires a decision comes into play.
If you choose to do everything at once, you risk spending too much, raising your overheads a lot all at once, and not being able to meet the standards you’ve set as a company. You will suddenly be spread more thinly, and less money will be coming in. Unless you have waited for the perfect moment to do one of the above, but not all of it.
Before you make a move towards expansion, you have to make sure there is revenue to cover it. Or, more likely, in reality, that there is revenue potential to cover your increased expenses.
The hardest thing about growth is knowing when it’s time for a new shell.
And just like a lobster knows when it’s time to grow itself a new home, you, as a business owner, need to know when the time is right to make an expanding move.
This can’t be before you have the resources for it – but if you choose to wait too long, you might be burning your existing resources too much.
Which brings us back to priorities.
As you know what you want to achieve and how (based on your plan from step one), you can make an educated decision. If you want to expand to a new state, that should be a priority, instead of buying new office chairs.
(Unless the chairs in question are causing bodily harm, in which case they need to be changed now).
The more balls in the air, the more potential hazards you will face. The sooner you start looking into the distance and predicting your future expansion, the easier it will be once you actually get there.
Don’t let growth surprise you. If you do what you do well, chances are, you will experience growth early on. Coping with it is where the hard stuff comes in.
Spend some quality time thinking about the future – or, as someone far more talented than I would put it: do your future self a favor, and work hard today.