You probably had a lot of dreams for your small business when you started it. Was one of those dreams rapid growth? We can’t blame you: who doesn’t want to see their revenues soar as their vision comes to life? Hopefully that dream is coming true for you! If it is, though, you need to be careful not to fall into certain traps, and see your growth begin to plateau. Rapid growth can be just as much a curse as a blessing for small businesses, so use the following tips to keep yourself on the right track.
1. Examine Why You’re Growing
Ok, you’re excited. Business is booming! But you can’t assume that this influx of customers – and revenue – is going to last forever. You need to take a step back and really examine the reason for your growth. If you don’t, you risk collapsing after the rush.
Why is the risk of failure higher after a period of rapid growth? Because that growth not only means more revenue, but it also means more expenditure. The growth slows down, and you’re stuck with more expenses than you can support. Understanding why you’re suddenly getting so much more business is critical. Knowing this will help you to plan for how much of your product you should have on hand at any one period in time, what your staffing needs will be, as well as the most important thing: when the growth is likely to slow down.
2. Make Sure Your Customers Are Still Number One
Don’t be blinded by the dollar signs in front of your eyes! What’s the one, most indispensable thing that has gotten you to this point of rapid growth? Your customers! And that means the one thing you absolutely shouldn’t skimp on is customer service. After all, nobody likes being put on hold, shuffled around, or generally being put on the back burner, especially if your customers are used to a high level of service.
To keep on top of what your customers are thinking, ask for their feedback with surveys, as well as on social media. Believe us, they won’t hold back in cyberspace! It’s best to be proactive when it comes to what you’re customers are saying on social media: remember, according to studies, 47% of people have used social media to complain about a business, 50% of customers will boycott a brand if they get a poor response to a complaint, and a whopping 92% of customers will call you out on your poor customer service. If you start to slack in the customer service department because of your rapid growth, you will most certainly pay the price.
You might also need to put more resources into your customer support team, which brings us to the following tip.
3. Figure Out What Your Staffing Needs Really Are
Has your rapid growth left you feeling short staffed and scrambling to stay on top of everything? It’s time to reassess your staffing needs and figure out what you really need. That can be tricky, since you don’t want to make the mistake of hiring too many people, because you could end up in trouble if your growth does level off. But not having enough staff could stall your growth or lead you into the trap of not being able to provide enough customer service.
What to do? First, critically assess your current staff and make sure that their responsibilities are being assigned in a way to meet the increasing workload. Next, consider hiring temps. Not only will this help to keep the cost of hiring down, but it will also give you a good feel for how big of a staff you’ll actually need as you settle into a more leveled off period of growth. Another option is to go with freelancers: they can do tedious work that can be done remotely, like data entry, while you and your permanent staff focus on the bigger picture.
4. Adaptability Is Key!
They say, you can’t grow if you don’t change. We would add to that, you can’t handle that growth if you don’t change. Even if you feel like your way of doing business has brought you to this stage of rapid growth, it would still be a mistake to keep doing things the same way you were before this rush hit. After all, that growth is changing your business, so you need to change with it!
It’s your job to make the big decisions, so step up and test out different strategies, accept new expenditures if need be, and inspire your team to innovate.
5. Look Outside of Your Business
Nobody does anything completely on their own. It’s ok to ask for help; after all, this is the first time you’re going through this! While we fully advocate for learning from your mistakes, you might not want to take the chance this time and at this critical juncture. Find a mentor who is an experienced entrepreneur, or look for a community of your peers to join. Getting advice from a wiser head or bouncing ideas off of people who have been there and done that can make all the difference.
It’s great that you’re growing so fast, and you should take pride in having brought your small business to this exciting stage. But this period of rapid growth can be full of pitfalls, so watch your step, and don’t lose your head. Be ready to make the big decisions, and we know you’ll come through this volatile period with a stronger business and a bright future.