How to manage a start-up’s fast growth

Here's some advice on dealing with growth as an early-stage business, with tips from delegation to money management.

Your business is your child; nurture it and watch the growth and development into the success you had always planned for. ‘When you’re starting up, to a degree you’re happy to let your business run away with itself and see where it takes you,’ says James Sandwell, owner of Sunshine Events.

But he warns that neglected growth is not an option. ‘Plenty of business owners have fallen into that trap and have failed as a result.’

If you’re lucky enough to be experiencing a period of growth within your business, you’ll need to learn how to sustain that success long term.

At this point there are several steps you as the owner can take to ensure the day-to-day running of your business is managed with expert staff behind every decision made. Sandwell discusses the importance of having a professional management team in place: ‘We have grown significantly over recent years and therefore we have formulated a strategy to ensure we continue to generate sales by looking after existing customers, expanding our coverage and considering acquisitions.

‘In order to do so, it has been imperative to restructure the management team with new appointments who can share their collective skills and experience. We’d encourage all businesses to stop and consider any potential problems or solutions before embarking on a new business venture.’

Potential problems

Being open to new ideas and opportunities is key when looking to fill management vacancies with experienced, industrious colleagues. Your business will have been run a certain way (your way) for years and stepping aside to accept new processes is no easy feat.

But, handing over responsibility to your management team will free up your time, which allows you to focus on generating leads for your business and leave them to deal with the nitty gritty. If they are keen to get a head start and come up with new business ideas then by all means welcome their support.

The solution: Give your team a thorough induction to ensure they are up to speed with all business matters. It should then be made clear that you are open to suggestions from your team for better management. This will give them a real confidence boost and show that you value their professional opinions.

Use the internet to your advantage

The internet is an interface that is forever changing which offers growing businesses a real opportunity to sell big! Nowadays, customers have access to information anytime and in any place they need it with access to tablets, smartphones and computers. What you should be doing is using the internet to your advantage to manage your business growth.

The solution: Setting up social media profiles to connect with the public is a good place to start. This gives you the chance to feed back on your company/products to attract new customers and build long-lasting relationships. Monitoring these online forums could notify you of news that will help you prepare for trends that have a real impact on your business.

Review your systems

You should review the systems you have in place currently to ensure you are following the best practices for your business. If you find yourself scouring all documents for one email address, for example, then it’s far too complex. You have a spreadsheet for just about everything you can think of and it’s almost never in the place you saved it last. Things will get complicated as your business grows and you take on more clients. There needs to be a clear structure and your colleagues should be made aware of this.

The solution: Make a list of the systems that are currently in place and organise your shared files into named folders. Present a clear method for tracking all future projects and be sure to ask your colleagues for their input.

Manage your money

Keeping a hold of the expenditure of a fast-growing business can be a real challenge. But it’s essential to do so. There can be a lot of outgoings from the appointment of new staff to office equipment, computers and time for training. Knowing where your business is at will allow you to better manage your growth and set realistic projections for the year ahead.

Most businesses will hold annual board meeting with management to discuss their financial targets for the year again, with monthly catch up meetings to refine their strategies if needed. During a transition period these meetings should increase to ensure you are not paying out more to control your growth than you can afford.

The solution: Document all business outgoings and monitor these regularly with updates to ensure you stay on top of your finances.

Set realistic goals

Where do you see your business in three years time? You will probably have an answer to this, or you did have before your profits hit an all time high. If you’re making swift progress with your current targets, or perhaps you’ve hit your financial goals (lucky you) then it’s time for a review meeting.

Whether you’re planning for the end of the year, or five years time, it’s important to have a roadmap in place so you have something to work towards. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t set new goals if you feel the need to. It’s all about setting realistic targets so you remain focused on what works for you.

The solution: Set new goals for the year ahead and ensure at least one of these is financial so you can better measure that success against your business growth.

Further reading on achieving growth

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