Managing Fast Business Growth
In the first of two articles looking at business growth, Mark Hallam writes about some of the implications and potential solutions for a fast growing business.
Fast growing businesses face many different challenges demanding varying solutions, from recruiting the right people to the cash flow that supports it.
What worked a year ago may be significantly different, and recognising challenges and opportunities associated with growth is essential if the business is to continue to grow positively.
Businesses getting bigger need to be more agile and as growth kicks in, it may require more people, larger premises and better systems. This is when the pressures really ramp up in getting the right people…..as it is people that make the difference.
As the headcount grows and positions once filled by individuals develop into teams, the need to stay organised becomes crucial. Making sure that everyone in the business works together as a team observing the core principles and objectives is essential.
As a company grows, it becomes difficult to keep hiring people who tick every box whilst also fulfilling the business demands. Hard decisions about the right candidates and their strengths can pose selection problems and by using the Change Maker Profile it can focus on the proclivity of the candidate and their strengths for the role.
Throughout a fast growth period, it usually means that employees workloads increase without any change in their circumstances or resources, thus creating low morale, becoming one step away from declining productivity and customer service quality.
Growing too fast can take the focus off increased demand for customer service and as many reputations are built on their service, rapid growth can make it difficult to live up to that reputation.
Responsibilities and tasks can be delegated as the business grows, but without solid management information systems a business cannot manage effectively in what has become a very litigious and legislative world, with the reliance on producing and interpreting large volumes of information.
As a business develops and sales grow, its not uncommon for the profit margins to be squeezed and running costs increased. Today, value for money often means lower prices and better service and demands such as these are very difficult to achieve.
Due to these pressures, it then becomes harder to ensure that information is shared and different functions work together effectively. Being confident that people, products and services are up to date will ensure the business maximises profitability.
Effective leadership will help make the most of opportunities creating sustainable growth for the future but all too often those within the C-suite, who are the driving force behind creating and growing the business, could also be the very people holding back progress.
Any challenges require senior management to have the same value set, thus enabling the culture to cascade through the operation shelving ego, status or insecurity that may have arisen for whatever reason.
People still need to know what the direction of the business is and who is leading it. “Top Down”.
That said, the C-suite skills that created the business may not be the same as those needed to grow it and it’s vital for leaders not to over value themselves as they are no longer the custodians of all the answers. - “He knows all the answers – that’s why he’s the boss”!
As the business becomes more complex in a fast-moving world, the pressures of workload can begin to pile up and this may cause management to become reactive instead of adopting a proactive and strategic approach.
Senior management may need to learn to delegate properly, trusting their middle management team and giving up day-to-day control of every detail. It's all too easy to stifle creativity from the organisation’s own ‘Change Makers’ by excessive interference.
Recruiting or developing the right people, coupled with efficient systems will make business’s more effective, and if it’s ever decided to sell the business, demonstrating a well-run operation will be an important part of proving its value.
It may be wise to seek an unbiased opinion from specialists to help delegate responsibility with specific projects or even appoint a non-executive director to strengthen the board during fast growth.
For many successful entrepreneurs/directors, learning to listen and take advice is one of the hardest challenges they face. Every day brings new challenges that urgently need resolving and management can often spend most of their time troubleshooting.
As the business grows, this approach simply doesn't work and while a short-term crisis is always urgent, it may not matter nearly as much as other things that require attention.
Spending time resolving a customer’s issue might help protect that one relationship, but by focusing instead on developing the Change Makers within the business to handle such problems, allows them to be more engaged and feel valued.
Introducing a Change Programme which provides continued development and ensures cohesion throughout the business, paving the way for succession planning, is an effective way of delivering such a change keeping the vision of the business together.
The Change Maker Group specialise in bespoke programmes and workshops to create Change Makers in a business, helping free up valuable time for leaders to concentrate on strategically running the business.
Contact Mark at Mark@thechangemakergroup.com
 The Change Maker Profile is an organometric focussed on peoples natural strengths and inclinations, and their resultant impact and contribution in a changing business. Find out more.