It’s tough running a growing business.
I’ve been there. You start out with a dream, then a vision. You see an opportunity to make your mark in the world by helping people achieve ‘X’ in their lives. You did the work to develop your product or service, and you know it is world class. You analyzed the market potential and the sky is the limit. So you look at all your investments, the 401(k) and get a 2nd mortgage on the house for a working capital line of credit.
The adrenaline of competing and succeeding in the marketplace keeps you up at night. You see it so clearly, it’s as if you can taste it. So you sign that lease for the space and get the internet and phone lines running. Your first hires catch your wave of enthusiasm and as you and your team go out and start closing business. And eventually that feeling of validation that you’ve done so many of the right things sets in!
But it’s tough running a business.
As the excitement wears off and you settle into that good growth path, the biggest challenges move from survival to maximizing revenue growth, capacity and profits. This requires a steady hand and building processes that will allow your business to scale over time.
I’ve experienced this. It's a dangerous time because it’s easy to be complacent with that recent success. But many business owners forget to plan ahead in building the infrastructure that supports scale in 3 critical areas:
- Investment in the right people
- Investment in the right processes
- Managing information for optimal business decisions
Investment in the Right People
It may seem like a no-brainer that hiring the right people is one of the most critical parts of a business owner’s job. But too many times, we see a ‘fire drill’ approach to hiring. This happens when you don’t have a mentality of constant pursuit of excellent people. The B and the C players are all over the place. But the Top Performers aren’t usually on the market (and when they are, it’s not for long!). So building a steady people pipeline is critical.
Investment in the Right Processes
Many times, business is so fast paced that the business owner doesn’t take enough time to develop and implement the right processes within their organization. From processing A/R to picking and shipping product efficiently to Customer Service, it is important to build a duplicable process that your team can become efficient with.
Managing Information for Optimal Business Decisions
Most small businesses have disparate reporting systems. Accounting will be on one platform, sales and customer service on another. Inventory management in the warehouse is done on Excel spreadsheets and updates are done regularly at great expense. The eCommerce side is often not speaking directly with accounting or inventory and makes for back orders and unhappy customers. This makes getting accurate and timely data quite a problem - and thus, becomes an unsustainable strategy.
What can you do about it?
- Always be on the lookout for Top Performing talent (even when you don’t need new people). The biggest mistake business owners make with this issue is waiting until they are desperate, then settle for less than ideal candidates to fill the position
- Be thorough in helping to make task completion as process-centric as possible. The more ‘automatic’ any given employee’s tasks are, the easier to complete them efficiently.
- Invest in an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) platform that will house ALL your business functions under one roof. This can give you a real time look at your business, reduce the manual processes needed to gather data and help you make better business decisions so you can focus on what’s really important…..providing the absolute best products and services to your customers.
Are you having trouble sustaining your current level of growth? Let's start a conversation.