Scaling a business, from startup to small business, is a risky endeavour. But if you do it carefully, while being mindful of the key areas that will affect your growth, your success is obviously much more likely.
Here we look at four solutions to common business growth challenges, focusing on: managing a larger staff base, ensuring the overall quality of your product or service, and keeping tabs on business expenses.
1. Making the most of your people
In the early days, you might have employed no more than ten members of staff, all working in the same room. Being in close quarters makes it easier for management, as well as other team members, to be aware of what everyone is working on and for you to support and develop your team in the best way.
When you scale your operations to occupy a larger office—or two—and the nature of your business has your employees regularly out on the road fulfilling client requests or conducting meetings, it suddenly gets a whole lot harder to keep in touch and keep tabs on the team. Support and development needs to become more formal. While you can lose that close relationship with your team, more formal training and development structures mean that no one is left behind and that your team are effectively skilled to help the company scale and grow.
2. Tech tools to boost productivity
Ideally your business will focus on results, rather than micro-manage hours and input. However, for some businesses it’s not that simple and success relies on working at a reliable and consistent capacity. It’s not just about checking your employees are doing the work they’re supposed to be doing, but managing your business operations to work at full capacity too.
One of the business models that does this best is delivery services that use fleet tracking. For a business that operates a vehicle fleet, whether that’s a scaling courier service or a growing team of plumbers or electricians making home call outs, knowing when drivers are due to arrive or if they are near another job can make all the difference to maintaining a quality service.
There are similar tracking tools available for sales, task management, product creations stages or staff locations. You can also use demand forecasting software to more accurately meet customer expectations. In all of those cases, a small investment in technology has the potential to transform the business and massively accelerate growth.
3. Establish a quality control system
As your company grows you must make sure that the quality of your goods or services is maintained despite its increasing size. Once your small business has found its feet, it can be all too easy for the simple things to slip off your radar.
A task management system can help with this, allowing your to mark off checks on projects with internal team members, senior staff and clients or customers. To make this as effective as possible, you need to make sure your growing team understands the approval system and that it makes sense with how their jobs are carried out. Talk with key team members about their structures and who they are in contact with for approval and assistance.
In these cases, it is about assigning the responsibility of maintaining quality to specific individuals within your management model. Establishing clear responsibilities for quality has two benefits: for one, employees feel more accountable, and it helps you delegate responsibility for quality control to managers of smaller teams.
Not creating clear systems and ways to maintain quality could mean you risk a systematic problem within your organisation, one that could hamper not only quality but customer satisfaction and your business’s continued development.
4. Keep an eye on the numbers
While startups tend to operate on lean budgets, the increased cash flow through a scaling business can seem like something of a luxury. But the larger the cashflow, the greater potential for any holdups or inefficiencies to create havoc in the business. If payments are held up for any reason the cashflow lag can and does bankrupt otherwise successful companies.
Similarly the potential for small costs and savings are magnified when your company scales.
Imagine you run a small bakery. If your daily customer numbers increase from tens to hundreds, you’re suddenly going to find yourself ordering larger quantities of ingredients, packaging and equipment. Be wary of getting too liberal with your spending as when the numbers are bigger, they become less precise, and you lose track of your bottom line. That means investing in proper reporting tools and accounting systems to help you identify where cash is going to waste.
Similarly, there might be huge savings to be made from purchasing in bulk or from wholesalers. Make sure you’re negotiating the best deals and are confident you’ve established a reliable supply chain that works in both parties’ mutual interests—there’s nothing worse than relying on another business that takes liberties and lets you down.
If your business is growing you are clearly doing a lot right and most likely following at least one of those tactics already. What else could you be doing to build on success and take your business into a new level of success?