Congratulations. You’ve made the big decision to grow your business. Compared to launching it in the first place, it doesn’t feel that much different – it’s nerve-wracking and involves risks. Some of these risks come in the form of business growing pains. In this blog, we go through the most common business growing pains, and how to deal with them.
Before you pat yourself on the back and throw a big party, you need to address the elephant in the room: growing is going to hurt a little.
Like a kid going to the doctor for a checkup, even with a little warning – “this is only going to hurt a little” – the pain of growing your business can hit you hard. Below is a list of some of the most common symptoms and business growing pains that businesses face when they scale up, and what you can do to avoid them.
Symptom: Your human resources are a mess
Until now, you’ve been able to comfortably fill the roles that your business needs. Everyone in your team knows their roles and brings value to your company.
That’s going to change if you scale up your operations. Roles will need to change and your organisational charts will expand. You might have some employees taking on more than they can chew while others are left wanting for more opportunity.
Or, if your business grows and pivots, you might find that you’ve hired people for jobs that are no longer required. Your data entry specialist might need to stop analysing customer survey data and instead start liaising with customers themselves.
Remedy: Upskill your employees
One of the best and most cost-effective ways to improve your human resources while growing your business is to upskill. You can teach your employees new tricks so they can grow into new roles.
Send your staff to training seminars, have them shadow mentors or simply teach them new business practices yourself.
By empowering your employees, you enable them to rise to the occasion. Upskilling your existing employees makes good use of your existing staff resources so it’s easy on the wallet.
Always consider an upskill approach to addressing new challenges before resorting to hiring more staff than you necessarily need.
Symptom: You lose sight of your goals
When you’re caught up in growing your business, it’s easy to forget about staying the course and following through with your original plan.
Or, you might find that your original goals may already be met and it’s time to move on and set new, more ambitious ones. For instance, if your original goal was to launch a product line for a new e-commerce store and your business has been operational for more than a year, then maybe it’s time to safely mark a check next to that box.
In either case, it’s common that your business goals no longer provide you with good direction while you’re caught up in growing your company.
Remedy: Make a new (or better) plan
The first step to setting new goals for your business is to take stock of your current situation. That means getting situated with your current business operations and reviewing your existing plan.
Now that you’ve had some time to observe your business after its launch, what are some strengths that you want to build on? Improving things that you’re good at is one the best ways to actually scale your business and not just grow. The former means that you’ll actually get better returns for the same amount of time spent on an activity.
If your customer service is your strength, then incorporate that into your planning and goal-setting. How can you improve it even more?
One word to the wise, however: involve your employees in your planning process. Don’t get too far ahead with your planning before getting input from your team members. In many cases, they are the heart and soul of your company and their experience and observations will help you make better planning decisions. It might be helpful to bring in a neutral third party, for example, a business coach, to help with outlining your goals in a team session.
Symptom: You and your teams are burning out
As you launched and grew your business in its early stages, you were probably used to tackling everything by yourself.
There was a time when you needed to make all the decisions of your business, but is that still the case? If you still feel like you’re doing everything yourself, then you might also be feeling burned out.
Chances are, you’re not the only one feeling stretched. Employees tend to imitate the behaviour they see in the workplace. If they see you putting in long hours, then they will too.
One of the biggest causes of burnout actually happens when you lack the awareness and the ability to delegate tasks.
It might sound like delegating some of your tasks to your employees won’t really help their work loads, but hear us out. Delegation doesn’t have to be about offloading your work onto someone else.
For instance, just because an inquiry came into your inbox, it doesn’t mean you’re the best (or the only) person who can answer it.
By assigning the task to someone at an appropriate level and who has the knowledge to respond, your organisation spends less time spinning its wheels and more time responding to problems.
Proper delegation is about knowing how to efficiently maximise your resources. By better utilising your mid-level management and team leads, you put your whole organisational chart to good use. That way, your company works smarter, not harder.
For some great tips about how to delegate effectively, check out this guide from the Harvard Business Review.
Symptom: Your software is holding you back
When you set up your business, it was often the simplest solution that ended up being the best for you. It was a great way to save money and get the best bang for your buck.
However, especially when it comes to software and IT systems, that simplicity might be holding you back from scaling up your efficiency.
In a customer experience example, imagine your business implemented a shared email inbox so employees could share the responsibility of responding to customer queries. It might have worked great while you set your business up, but now your operations have matured.
These days, you and your management team want to keep track of valuable new metrics like response time or case-time per employee. If you want to do that, your old technology is simply not going to cut it.
Remedy: Automate tasks with new software solutions
It’s time to get ahead by embracing your company’s digital transformation.
Hopefully it doesn’t come as a surprise, but there are far better customer relationship management (CRM) solutions out there than your shared inbox. Investing in new technology will help you reduce manual processing times by automating labour-intensive tasks like data entry or manual calculations.
Embracing new software can be a big change for your company. It can also be risky if not done correctly. Studies suggest that less than 30 percent of new business technologies actually succeed. So be sure to approach your company’s digital health with care.
Want to learn more?
Why not check out our blog about how to hire the right talent for your business? Check out our expert coaches and book a 15-min free discovery call to find the right coach to help with your business’ growing pains.