Most businesses aspire to keep growing. For some businesses, growth is a measure of success. But, growing too fast can cause as many problems as growing slowly.
A thriving business needs to be constantly nurtured, to ensure that it builds a solid foundation early on and doesn’t suffer from the ‘too much, too soon’ syndrome. In the book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, author Marshall Goldsmith mentions that rapid success can manifest itself as destructive workplace habits or flaws. A company that understands and overcomes these flaws can change for the better.
There are many challenges a fast-growing company has to overcome to be successful - Scaling the right way, effective use of technology, hiring and retaining the right talent, balancing the needs of the business with those of its employees, and ensuring its business strategies evolve complementary to market trends.
The challenges are many but, fortunately there are solutions, too. Here are some suggestions on how to navigate the pitfalls of rapid growth:
Standardisation of Processes
Every company has a set of inter-related tasks that must be completed periodically. These tasks or processes could be simple – such as dealing with a customer support request; or they could be more complex – such as allocating resources and defining timeframes for a new product launch.
But, if there are no clear rules governing the execution of these tasks, it invites chaos. Standardisation is a clear, time-tested set of logical instructions (a checklist, if you may) to complete the given task in a manner that gives the required result. Standardisation is a must for almost every company that wishes to achieve scale.
Choosing the Right Technology
Investing in technology in today’s world is a must. Good technology helps business lay a solid foundation for growth by ensuring all systems run efficiently and effectively. However, business requirements and costs need to be kept in mind before making investments in technology. There’s no one-size-fits-all as technological requirements can vary according to structure of a company, its size and its goals.
Finding the right IT solutions require a lot of effort, and money but, companies often neglect both. They cut corners on hardware and other equipment, they wait for equipment to fail before replacing it, there don’t conduct regular maintenance checks, employees aren’t given adequate training, their security and backup of data is not reliable, they use pirated software, and don’t have a qualified IT team.
The technological plan and IT infrastructure should meet the company’s initial and long term needs while providing for flexibility. As the business grows, the IT infrastructure must expand to include more hardware, software, manpower and technical support.
Evolution of Core Product or Services
The core product is the most important service any company offers to its customers. It serves as the brand’s identity and official source of business and profit. It is crucial because customers associate that service or value to the company; a mistake growing companies often make is failing to keep their core products and services relevant.
Reinventing the company’s core products involves creativity and a change in marketing. Every core product has a function but companies need to have a value add beyond it; a brand purpose that can appeal to customers, help form a strong connection, and encourage loyalty. It is important to create a valuable product experience for the product’s users, from pre-sales to ongoing customer support.
Keeping Pace with Growth
Hyper-growth can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, high demand is good for the business as it creates a buzz in the market. The flip-side is that keeping up with that demand can be difficult. A company needs to maintain a high level of service and overall customer experience through its growing years. This can be done by choosing the proper growth strategy, keeping finances in check, hiring and training the right team and ensuring there’s no burnout, and keeping realistic goals.
Implementing scalable processes and quality control systems early on is crucial for all companies. A startup has fewer employees, which makes process implementation easier. However, as the business expands it becomes harder to implement processes & train employees.
The right business growth strategy has to evolve to suit changed circumstances: What might have worked before won’t necessarily work now. For instance: if initially, the focus was on gaining new customers, it could now change to building profitable relationships with them. Here, social media can come to your aid. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram have changed the way customers and businesses share information. These networks help take customer service online, give an insight into the audience, and create new communication channels with them.
Focus on the long term
While starting out, the goal should be to build a company as if you are ‘running a marathon, not a 100-meter sprint’. It is important to focus on levers that will drive success in the long run. Sustainable processes & systems that are nimble enough to adapt to changes in the market environment are detrimental to the long-term success of a company.
The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.
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