A rapidly expanding company can be a blessing and a curse. If not well managed, the sky-rocketing sales, expansive recruitment and an ever-growing product or service line can spiral out of control.
Not such a bad problem to have, you might think. In fact, I’ve been relatively fortunate to have founded a high growth company in the past and am currently involved in one now. But, it’s not all been plain sailing. The practicality of rapid expansion is not something they tend to teach you at Business School. At least, they didn’t teach it to me. Along the way, I’ve learnt some extremely important lessons both in my own businesses and by observing others as they grow.
It is not uncommon for companies that grow too fast to come tumbling down equally as fast as the organizational culture gets jumbled, management loses touch, and clients are treated at arms’ length.
Nurturing your company through that critical acceleration stage ensures that both the small and massive changes are handled smoothly for the long-term success of the business.
Here’s some tips on how to thrive amid the chaos of a fast-growth company:
Whether you have five or 500 employees, it is critical that you place them at the center of the company’s growth.
Having the right people in your corner ensures that every aspect of the business is running just as it should.
As you scale, recognize and reward employees for their achievements in spite of the high pressure. Make information easily accessible and easily shareable so that everyone feels empowered to handle the rapid changes that are taking place.
Ensure employees are growing with the change by allowing space for mistakes and swift corrections. Bottom line: treat your employees right—they could make or break you as you nurture your company through the acceleration phase.
Minimize the stress and feelings of overwhelm during this period of high growth by delegating as much as you can.
Not doing this was one of the biggest mistakes I made in my first venture. It may seem scary to let other people do tasks for you when your company is doubling sales, changing management, taking on new clients or adding in new products.
Yet, trying to do everything on your own is a sure way to burnout and to bringing your current growth to a screeching halt.
Strategic delegation allows you to focus on overall business strategy without putting the actual business on hold. Now I understand that it’s impossible to do everything, and trying to do so is a one way ticket to burn out.
You have probably seen companies that grew so fast they threw quality out the window. And you have probably seen the sad fate of these companies.
After your employees, your customers and client’s are the most important aspect of your business. It is important to constantly keep sight of them no matter how fast you are growing.
Listen to your customers, get feedback, and address their concerns as fast as possible. Do not compromise on quality at all if you want your business to maintain the upward trajectory.
With growth comes the necessity to shed off some of the old and replace it with the new and relevant.
It might be a hard pill to swallow but at this time of fast growth, you might have to get rid of some employees and hire new ones, or drop off some clients and/or acquire new ones.
You might also need to change work processes for example, switching from paper to paperless or facilitating telecommuting to improve productivity and cut costs.
Speaking of processes, disorganization is a potential risk during times of high growth.
A larger workload, a larger workforce and a larger customer base requires efficient workflow systems to ensure that the back-end obligations are working efficiently.
Growth also demands keeping a close watch on the company’s accounting and financial records. The availability of cash flow will facilitate continued growth through timely and strategic investments.
Just as you need the right people to keep your company on its upward growth, you also need mentors to give you much-needed perspective.
A mentor or two will be incredibly helpful in taking the pressure off you, and guiding you on how to navigate the challenges of managing a high growth company. Don’t think you can or need to do it all alone. Accept that you don’t know everything.
Find mentors who have experience in managing high growth companies. Their guidance will be extremely useful in helping you stay in control of the rapid changes.
It is easy to change plans too often when your company is growing fast. Yet, this is akin to losing focus of your initial vision—and without the vision, what’s left?
Let your growth be guided by your company’s vision all round. Singularity of vision gives you perspective amidst the chaos of growth.
What did you want to provide your clients, employees and other stakeholders when you were still small and starting out? What were your values, culture, guiding principles? Stay true to the vision, passions and values that led you to the growth you are experiencing.
In Jiggle Digital we only take on new client’s that match our vision and expertise and this results in a better standard of work, more satisfied clients and everyone moving in the same direction on the same mission.
A fast growing company could leave you feeling like the business is ‘running you’ instead of you running the business. But with the right people, the right infrastructure, the right guidance and the right perspective, it is possible to minimize the chaos and uncertainty of nurturing your business through rapid growth.
Above all, learn to have fun. Business is not a “life or death” situation and ultimately, profit is not everything. We are on this earth for a short time. Do great things, build, create, relax and learn to enjoy the continued success you deserve.