Growth traditionally leads to an increase in revenue. Higher revenue, though, doesn't always mean higher profits. If you and your business are unprepared for sudden growth, it may become very difficult to keep your business afloat.
So how do you manage growth? This guide contains eight tips designed to help you keep that growth at a manageable level and grow alongside increased demand.
Before you ever reach a point of rapid growth, it's recommended that you plan for how to deal with it if it happens. This could be looking at how you could effectively increase production, transport, server space, or however you provide your deliverables.
Creating a plan with rapid growth in mind lets you be more prepared if it occurs. Would you be able to move factories? Is your current delivery service easily expanded? In 2011, Teespring was a small business with little growth, but by 2014, they were hitting 6 million orders annually.
If you were to be suddenly hit with an influx of orders, how would you cope? What would you do to make the most of it? By even beginning to think about these questions now, you'll be more prepared. But why stop there? Think your entire plan through, and then write it up. That way, if the situation arrives, you are more than ready to take full advantage of the expansion.
2. Why are you growing?
Business growth is a fantastic thing, whether planned or not. If you want to be able to manage and develop it effectively though, you need to understand why you've started growing in the first place.
Has a specific product become hugely successful? Is word spreading? Whatever it is, make sure you identify what's causing this growth and compound on it. If it's a part of your business, then this is now your unique selling point (USP) and exactly what you need to triumph over your competitors.
A USP is a signifier to customers why they should choose you over anyone else. You can offer things like a better/cheaper service, specific promotional tie-ins, etc. Your USP is specific to your business, and should help you gather and retain a larger market share.
3. Have contingencies in place
Not every plan you have will work. Some may not have been thought out accurately, others may be affected by external circumstances that nobody could have predicted. That's why it's always good practice to have an alternative, in case the first one isn't viable.
While plans themselves shouldn't be treated like law, they can provide excellent guidelines on how to deal with certain situations. Having multiple plans can help eliminate any panic from unexpected circumstances. You'll never plan for every eventuality, nor should you, but what you can do is determine the best moves to make in certain conditions, whether that's unexpected growth, a severe reduction in clientele or wider socioeconomic factors.
By having backups in mind, you can be more prepared to tackle what life throws at you and your business. Growth also requires a lot of capital, so it's important that you reinvest into the business as much as possible. Adequate funds can ensure that your business both survives the growth and even prospers from it.
4. Keep track of your finances
This is a point you must be meticulous with. When you run a smaller business, money can be easier to manage, allowing you to get into bad habits in the future. Imagine that you keep all of your financial documents on paper, scattered all across the desk. That may be manageable as a small business, but as you grow, it becomes difficult to manage your finances properly.
If you keep well-managed accounts of how your business is doing financially, including all your ingoings and outgoings, when you hit that big expansion, you have one less thing to worry about.
The way you maintain your finances can help to map how effectively your business can grow, and give you an excellent overview of what milestones to set in your expansion. It also means if you need additional investment from the bank to help deal with unexpected costs of growth, you can build a fully informed portfolio with accurate information.
5. Hire more people
A singular person cannot adequately manage everything when substantial growth is involved. As the business develops in size, more people will be needed to manage various aspects of the company.
Don't be adverse to increasing your staff, since while this could be seen as an additional cost, it's also a necessary one. Adding experienced and knowledgeable members to your staff could be exactly what's needed to keep your business growing, without damaging your bottom line, too.
A wise manager knows the worth of their people, and this is certainly true for the managers of a company. You can have the best products in the world, but if your staff aren't managed or equipped properly, it can be very difficult to achieve anything.
One way to get around hiring permanent staff is to hire temporary ones. By hiring temps, you can see if that type of role would be a good fit and benefit your business, without fully committing to the idea of hiring a new full-time member of staff. Freelancers are a good alternative, too. This can help save you substantial amounts of money.
6. Quality before quantity
The main purpose of any business is to make money, and you do that by keeping your customers happy. With this in mind, keep an eye on your back-end development. If you are unable to deliver on promises made, this can negatively affect your business in a far more damaging way than turning some customers away.
There is no harm in closing your doors for a short time, while you fulfill all the orders you've accepted. This can also give your products a sense of allure, due to their limited availability. Don't forget to take names and contact methods in the meantime, so when you reopen, you can contact those who were unable to order before.
Of course, if you want the best of both worlds, you need to be able to scale your business both quickly and efficiently. If you take orders online, you may need to boost either your internet speeds or the size of your servers. If you're building a product, you may need additional equipment or expanded premises to keep up with demands.
It's also vital that you do not forget to increase your customer service centers, too. You need them to help troubleshoot additional issues you have during expansion. It's also more likely to encourage the customers to remain loyal, since by talking to a real person, they can develop an understanding of the current changes.
7. Don't be afraid to prune
Similar to not accepting every order that comes your way, don't be afraid to drop problematic clients. If you have a client that gives you 30% of your revenue but takes up 70% of your time, then they're a problematic client.
Clients like this can cause you to lose focus of your other clients, meaning they don't get the service they're paying for and may end up leaving. Keep an eye on which customers take up the most effort to manage, and make an executive decision.
If they're not worth it, then wait until the contract expires and don't renew it. Better yet, if you have contact with another firm better suited to their needs, pass them along! It may seem foolish to give your business to other companies, but this can help to build a rapport between the two businesses, and they're likely to send suitable clients your way, too.
It may seem like a tough call, but ditching an inefficient, time-consuming client can make way for multiple easier ones; increasing revenue but without the headache.
8. Improvise. Overcome. Adapt.
Being adaptable is one of the strongest business traits you can possess.
The lockdowns caused by COVID-19 had a socioeconomic effect on a global scale. It was something that nobody expected to happen, and yet some companies were able to improvise and thrive, whereas many others closed permanently. Some restaurants that were unable to seat people pivoted to takeaway and deliveries, offices allowed working from home, and many businesses went online to maintain their revenue and prevent the spread.
It was the adaptability of these businesses that allowed them to overcome various tribulations, and ensure that their business was able to either maintain revenue or continue growing despite a more competitive and challenging economic climate.