Managing Growth to Move Forward, Not Backward

by Granville Triumph

Experiencing business growth is exciting. The workplace is buzzing with more energy, more customers and more revenue. You feel like your vision is on its way to becoming a reality. But if that growth happens too quickly, it could easily overwhelm your organization – or even put it out of business. Many entrepreneurs think rapid growth will make all of their dreams come true until they realize that they don’t have the people and processes in place to manage business operations and serve new customers.

Most organizations start with a small team or a single individual, all of whom wear a dozen hats. This “do everything yourself” approach may work out of necessity when you first launch your business, but it’s not sustainable when the business grows. Customer service suffers. Deadlines are missed. New business opportunities are delayed. You can barely keep the lights on, let alone follow up with a business lead. At this point, hiring and delegation become reactions to a problem.

Just like any other part of managing and leading an organization, growth requires planning. You need to take the time to hire and train people or develop a plan for outsourcing before you become overwhelmed so you can seamlessly delegate responsibilities when the business grows. When raising capital to start your business, you also need to account for the capital required to grow your business. Determine how much money and how many people will be needed to support your business when it grows to certain levels. As sales grow, expenses such as supplier and shipping costs will likely grow. Reforecast profits and expenses to account for these growth-related changes and maintain adequate cash flow.

Another key to managing growth is establishing operational processes that maximize efficiency and productivity. By combining the right people with the right processes, you can maintain high quality in your product and customer service, proactively address issues, and capitalize on new business opportunities. However, processes only work if they’re followed, monitored, verified and measured. Without accountability, your processes are nothing more than recommendations.

If the organization can’t function without you, it will never grow beyond what you can do yourself. When you have the right processes in place, it becomes easier to delegate and let people do their jobs. You won’t have to be in every meeting. Your employees have processes to follow, and you have a system in place that ensures the work is being done according to those processes. If you’ve hired the right people, your business will flourish. If you’ve made a bad hire, you’ll know to make a change more quickly to minimize the damage.

Rapid growth can either take your organization to new heights or cause you to take a major step back. How you plan for and manage growth will determine which way your company will go.

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