BY ANDI GRAYDilemma: Why should I keep trying to grow my business? It feels like bigger isn’t necessarily better or more profitable. Being bigger means more employees, more issues, more headaches, more complexity, more cost, more risk. Who needs that?
Thoughts of the Day: Businesses are either growing or shrinking. What you know today isn’t necessarily sufficient to get you through tomorrow. With growth comes opportunity to get the load off your back. Learn how to hire, train, motivate, manage, reward, and hold people accountable. Enforce standards.
It’s tempting to get comfortable with where your business is today, but it’s not possible to stand still for long. Costs keep climbing for everything from office supplies and insurance to people and benefits. Without additional profits to cover cost increases, your business will be forced to make do with less and less of what it needs, and that puts you on track for an ugly downward spiral.
Watch out that feelings of being overwhelmed or scared don’t get in the way of doing your job, which is figuring out how to keep your business ahead of the curve. If you truly believe that you can’t handle any more growth, do yourself and your business a favor: Take a vacation, hire some help, think about selling the business, or turn it over to someone with more ambition and drive. Don’t kill the business just because you’re worn out or don’t feel up to the challenge.
If you are prepared to keep going, think one, two, three, and more years down the road. Set targets to keep your company on point. Figure out what’s needed to achieve profitable growth, and make a plan to get people and things in place before you need them.
As the business expands, you need to learn more in order to keep up. Make time to read regularly, and challenge your managers to do the same. Take notes and put what you learn into action. Build an idea lab to test concepts. Design systems that can save time and effort.
Help your current staff build skills. Pay for education and make sure every employee has a training plan. Adding people on the fly could be costly if you don’t have time to train them properly. Show employees and managers how to use written plans to get to the next level.
When openings come up, hire the most experienced personnel you can afford. Learn how to recruit great talent that fits your business. Institute background checks and set up on-boarding systems to help new employees learn quickly and boost hiring success.
Look on the bright side: With more profitable revenue you can hire people to take things off your plate. More depth, more cross-training, more backup—all this comes with growth, and that means you get freed up to tackle planning for the future and establishing goals for your new, more robust company.
More profitable revenue enables the ability to hire more experts to help you succeed. Reach out to people you admire and find out how they got where they wanted to go. Regularly interview potential advisors to learn how they can assist. Keep an eye on challenges that could require extra attention. Increase your development budget annually.
Master the people side of the business. Dedicate time and energy to improving your workforce. If someone gets stuck, don’t ignore the problem—enlist additional support. Know when and how to move on if things don’t improve. If you’re unsure how to manage a situation effectively, get instruction. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Accept that things will go wrong. Teach people that it’s OK to make mistakes, but it’s not OK to blindly repeat them. Learn from every failure. Hold everyone accountable for continuous improvement.
Set up an organizational chart and practice chain of command. Get good at organizing regular, productive management meetings. Ask people to circulate written reports documenting how they’re doing.
Be clear about what you expect. Share a vision of where the company is going. Expect everyone around you to be fully on board and rowing hard. Be sure that they also benefit from the growth as much as the company does.
Every successful business owner has had to master the skills of forecasting, leading, managing, and strategic planning. No one expects you to be an expert right out of the box, but you are expected to be fully engaged with learning how to productively expand your business. [CD0216]
Looking for a good book? Try “33 1/3 Success Shortcuts I Wish Someone Had Taught Me Sooner” by David Jurewicz.
Andi Gray is the Founder of the business consulting firm Strategy Leaders. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org