Business growth: How to control and manage it

Andres Richter, CEO of Priority Software, provides four tips for how you can control the growth of your business.

In order to see if your company is growing in the right direction, you have to have a clear understanding of what business growth means specifically for your company. For some, it means they’ve increased the number of employees by a certain, target percentage. For others, it’s growing their brand to the point that it’s become a household name, even though it may not be bringing in money – Snapchat being the prime case in point here. However, for many small businesses, a good rule of thumb is to consider business growth to be when the company is generating positive cash flows, which increase at a faster rate than the economy.

1. Know what you want your company to look like

The foundation of any successful business is a well-thought-out vision. It can be hard to direct company growth if you don’t have an end goal in sight. This vision can be short term, or long term, but it must be clear and simple, with steps showing how it can be executed. Not only will this help employees buy in to your company ethos, but it will build trust and loyalty, and enhance the reputation of your business. For many small businesses, a good reputation among customers and employees is crucial to standing out among competitors.

However, the danger is that you risk turning your employees into monotonous robots, who all recite the same company mantras and ideas. You need to be able to find a healthy medium, where you create an environment which encourages workers to think independently and creatively, within the boundaries of your vision.

A sign that your vision isn’t being executed from top to bottom, is if employees are constantly asking ‘what’s next’. Another sign is if they can’t tell you what makes the company different to similar competitors. If this happens, it’s time to go back to the basics, and create a clear statement of purpose, that every current, and new employee, is aware of.

2. Don’t fear change, embrace it

The best leaders are ones that can spot when the company isn’t growing, and can steer it in a new direction, before slow growth turns into decline. Ideally, you will be able to pinpoint the exact areas where changes need to be made, and act accordingly. However, sometimes the pain points aren’t obvious, and so you should make it best practice to continuously review and assess existing processes within the company.

These may be obvious pain points, but sometimes signs that changes need to be made are hard to spot. Given this, you should continuously review and assess existing processes within the company, so you can spot opportunities for change as soon as they appear.

Furthermore, there are many growing companies that encourage employees to suggest ways the business model could be improved, or invite members of the community to find vulnerabilities in products. For example, a firm called Bugcrowd connects companies such as Western Union, Pinterest, and LastPass with hackers, who then receive rewards for solving problems. This method allows the companies to consistently ensure they’re delivering the best possible product and service to their users.

Crucially, any changes you do make must be carefully considered, as new initiatives can just as easily be detrimental to a company. If done correctly however, change can help your company succeed and grow.

3. Equip yourself with good management tools

Both changes in practice, and insightful business decisions, can lead to business growth, but they can only be implemented if you have up to date and accurate data, to support your case. Regardless of size, or industry, business management tools, such as CRM, ERP, are considered to be a necessity for companies. They provide real-time, integrated views of all the core business processes. Furthermore, as well as giving you control and visibility over your company’s data, these tools can also help you streamline your business. As a small business, you might be wary of investing in business management tools, but the benefits for you and your company will outweigh the initial cost. There are also many software providers that specialise in providing tools for small businesses.

However, regardless of the size of your business, it’s important to ensure your management tools are being used correctly, and that they’re up to date. Proper use of business management tools will allow you to collect data, make changes, and grow your business accordingly.

4. Trust your gut

Corporate decisions by and large should be supported by numbers, and good data. But it’s important that you don’t lose sight of your gut instinct, something that can get forgotten among a pile of statistics. The combination of machines, and rational human thought, is the perfect recipe for making the best decisions for your company, and enhancing business growth.

So, when you review company operations, consider striking a balance between automated, and people-managed processes. There may be a temptation to side-line humans in favour of machines, especially for simple, repetitive tasks. However, it’s important to understand that often, the ‘human touch’ will be required, even if there’s an obvious automated solution in place.

In sum, there’s no single, correct way, to grow your company in the right direction. What works for one company might not work for another. But with a clear strategy, an ability to see when changes need to be made, good management tools, and gut instinct, you’ll be well on your way.

Andres Richter is CEO of Priority Software

Further reading on business growth

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