As a small startup company with a – hopefully – big future, you are most likely chomping at the bit. You understand you will be starting small, but are anxious that you grow as quick as possible. But, there’s a problem. In fact, there are several issues that you will face.
In this guide, we’re going to go through some of those challenges one by one. They are typical issues that all small businesses will go through when they attempt to get bigger. And, by understanding them in advance, you will be better equipped to deal with them.
Let’s get the ball rolling straight away with something you might not have thought about: your family.
Business growth requires a lot of dedication and determination. And, if you intend to put your heart and soul into it, there might be problems for your family. Is it going to be OK that you aren’t ever at home? Does your partner understand, and are you prepared to miss big events in your children’s lives? You might have a lovely work/life balance right now, but what happens when you are working 12-14 hours every day, six days a week? It’s going to be tough – so think long and hard about what you will put your loved ones through.
Growth is going to put a lot of pressure on you and your business. And, unless you have the capability to scale up, it’s going to put you in a demanding position. There’s a delicate balance to strike. For example, you might have a huge glut of orders to fulfill, which encourages you to hire more full-time employees. But what if those orders don’t continue? You’re going to be out of pocket with too many people on your books. Your systems are also going to face a bigger workload. Will they be able to handle it? Let’s say you are running your own server for your online business. If you aren’t ready for the new online visitors to arrive on your site, it’s going to cause all manner of problems. So, check that you have the capability to deal with growth in a flexible way. That goes for your staffing levels, IT systems, and your method of production.
You might be well known in your industry for having fantastic customer service. People like coming to your shop or business because of the personal touch that you give them. The trouble is, as soon as you grow to a certain size, it’s going to cause a lot of issues with this personal service. You’ll need to focus on training a lot more staff, and the more people you have, the more issues can arise. Older customers may not like the ‘new you’ – and could go elsewhere. Change is inevitable in all business, of course. But, managing your client’s expectations is something you should be on top of from the outset.
It can be easy to deal with cash flow when you are a smaller company. You know where you are at any time of the month, and you can make accurate estimations for the future. It’s possible to cover up a shortfall one month because you don’t have to spend a great deal. But, when you grow, those margins will change, and things will get a little spicier. Because you are producing a lot more, it’s going to cost you a lot more. And, if you have a bad month, it’s going to wallop you if you haven’t planned well in advance. This problem is especially pertinent when you are in the early stages of growth. You have to invest to produce, which is going to take your expenses to uncomfortable levels. And, if you don’t make it back in sales, it’s going to cause severe financial strain.
There is a lot more to think about when you are a bigger company hiring employees. There needs to be a robust framework in place, for a start. There will be issues with all kinds of things, from sickness policies to bereavement leave. There’s also the strain on your staff that growth will cause. As a rule, people can be afraid of change, and they will have a lot of concerns. Will they be overlooked for promotion by someone new? Will there still be a place for them in your long-term plans? Do they have the skills to deal with their new tasks? And, will they get paid if things go awry? It won’t take long for people to start applying for new jobs if they begin to have serious worries. It’s essential that you can keep an eye on your best talent, and make sure they feel as secure as possible.
It’s not just your employees you have to look out for when undergoing growth: you. Can you say that you have the leadership skills to take your business forward? You need to be confident in yourself, of course, but that’s not enough. Especially if you are using an investment to fund that growth. Anyone that puts money into your company is going to want it back – it’s only natural. You can expect rigorous checks on your capabilities, and you may only get the money if you agree to hand over some responsibility. Will you be able to deal with someone coming in and telling you what to do? It’s something you need to consider beforehand – it might even put you off the whole idea altogether!
The big picture
As you can see, there is a lot to think about when you are undergoing a period of growth. And, with all that on your mind, it can be tough to take a step back and see the bigger picture. When you are in a startup, it’s only natural that you get stuck into almost everything. But, as you get bigger, it’s important that you can lead, rather than stay in the trenches. If you don’t, you will simply be too busy to notice when big things start to go wrong.
OK, so that’s all for now. Let us know your thoughts – have we missed anything you would like to add?