Women In Business

3 challenges you need to overcome when your business grows rapidly

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While rapid business growth is a problem many entrepreneurs would love to have, the reality is being ‘hyper-gazelle’ in growth terms comes with specific dangers and risks that can be just as problematic to a business as failing to grow at all.

Yet when growth surpasses expectation it brings with it a number of problems.

1. Destabilisation of your team

Startups are known for their culture of camaraderie and ‘getting things done’. However, all new businesses should strive to build a close knit team and working relationships where everyone participates in multiple areas of the business.

With growth comes the need for additional staff which can lead to disruption in team harmony. The rapid assimilation of new team members, their inductions, their training, their contributions and their new ideas can all be a source of stress to the established team.

During this period the demands on each individual may increase significantly, as will the demands on the team as a whole. If poorly managed, this can lead to low morale and infighting among members of the once unified team.

What tends to happen is staff can go through a kind of grieving process as their roles change. They go from being a member of a small team with daily interaction with their leader, to part of a larger group with a new hierarchy and less face-to-face time with their founder. In turn, this can feel like something of a step backwards in status.

2. Slip in customer service levels

As pressure grows with increasing customer demand, staff training and day-to-day tasks occupy more and more time, there is a risk that customer service will slip. Since it is likely that your excellent customer service was a catalyst for your rapid growth in the first place, an inability to maintain it represents a high risk and a threat to the business.

New staff may also try to cut corners. They may revert to the practices of their previous employers, and they may not have the same values as your current staff. All of these characteristics can (and should) be adjusted through training and onboarding, but this takes time.

3. Tightened cash flow and diminishing profits

As businesses grow, the demand for cash flow is at its greatest and you may well see diminishing profits. This is even more likely to be the case if staff overtime is required to meet demand, or if goods and supplies must be fast-tracked, incurring additional freight and delivery costs.

What can you do?

From the entrepreneur’s perspective, the challenge is to manage all of the above while adjusting your own expectations. If you originally started your own business so that you could choose your own hours, or work around family commitments, then it’s likely that some of these benefits will be lost.

There is also of course the inherent risk that without careful growth management strategies, your role could become one of continual crisis management and this could distract you from the areas of the business that you enjoy most.

What’s certain is that pursuing a strategy of growth at all costs without understanding the hurdles you’ll have to overcome will only hurt your business in the long term.

About Deb Farnworth-Wood

Deb Farnworth-Wood is a serial entrepreneur, author and the founder of the world-leading medi-aesthetic franchise, Australian Skin Clinics. Born in Kenya and raised in the UK, Deb moved to the other side of the world to retire, only to build a $70M business. http://www.debfarnworthwood.com/  Twitter handle: @DFarnwordthWood

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