Many times, business owners are encouraged to prepare for the worst. Plans have been created for when things go south, financially or otherwise, and are updated when necessary. But many businesses neglect to prepare themselves appropriately for growth. Here are some tips for making sure your business is prepared to succeed.
1. What Growth Looks Like
The first step to preparing your business for growth is understanding what growth looks like. Hitting a certain number of sales or a certain amount of revenue are normal indications of growth, but not the only ones. You'll also need to hire more employees, may need to move into a bigger office, and may need warehouse space. You'll need more office equipment, more hardware, and most likely better software to handle increasingly complex operations.
Communication will become trickier as your office expands, and you'll probably need to start asking "what is hybrid cloud?". There's a lot to consider, but knowing what you want your business to look like in the future will give you a good place to start. How big do you want things to get? How much of your time and money do you intend to invest? Setting expectations from the beginning will help prevent the business from becoming something you never intended it to be.
2. Continued Funding
Particularly if your business was a start-up, you're familiar with the ins and outs of funding. When your company begins to take off and grow at an exponential rate, you may not understand the scope of your financial needs. It's very likely that you'll need continued financing from outside sources as your company grows because you'll need to make purchases and hires before your revenue can support them.
Make sure that for now, you're maintaining your relationships with any current and past funders, and that you're growing those relationships as much as you can. Keep your passion for your business alive so you can keep others invested as well. When the time comes that you need a little extra cash, you don't want to deal with the stress of being refused credit, so make sure to have more than one backup plan in place.
3. Hiring For the Future
Your business as it is now might be just fine with a couple of employees and a secretary, but it's unlikely to continue that way if your business grows. You don't have to hire an office full of people if that's an unreasonable move at this stage, but you want to make sure whoever you're hiring is going to stick around for the future. You'll need employees who can do onboarding and training for new hires, and that's difficult to do when your oldest employee started work a week ago.
Try to attract employees who are willing to undergo changes as your company does. And give a lot of thought to what roles you're putting people into. It might be tempting to give one hire five different job titles, but it's important to know your employees' skills and put them in the right positions. Plus, treating your employees well will make them more likely to ride out the bumps in the road and stay focused on future goals.
4. Customer Loyalty
When growth becomes your focus, it can be easy to neglect current customers, imagining that soon you'll have 100 new ones to replace them. But customer loyalty is essential to growth in the first place. Make your customers feel special, cater to them individually, and reward them for brand loyalty. Investing in good customer service shouldn't be something you plan to do in five years. It should be a priority from the get-go.
5. Industry Secrets
No matter how much talent and expertise you bring to your business, there is guaranteed to be someone who knows more than you do about your industry. As you prepare for growth, seek out industry experts and try to learn as much as you can from them. Oftentimes, you can avoid making a lot of beginner errors and avoid wasting time simply by listening to those who have gone before you.
6. Keeping Focus
No matter how big your company gets or how much money you're making, it's important to keep your initial goals and your company's values as a priority. There will be opportunities for growth that could make you a lot of money or help you expand, but don't make sense for your company's overall mission. In the long run, your employees, investors, and customers will all respect you and the business more for remaining focused.
If a company isn't prepared to upscale its processes, it may be totally blindsided by an influx of business, and could actually be upended as a result. It can be intimidating to think about your business expanding beyond its current point, but doing so is crucial to being prepared when the time comes.