When most companies think of growth, they think of taking on new business — new customers, clients, and revenue. Big growth is good, right?
The reality is that growth is good, but too much of it — when a company isn’t ready — can be detrimental. Sure, your company could be more successful, but it could also end up in serious problems without a proper strategy and structure.
So, is your company truly ready for growth? Well, first you need to assess the scalability of your business.
Are processes documented and scalable?
Before you put your efforts into growth, make sure that you have solid ground to stand on. And the foundation of every business is in the processes that help run it.
During your time of growth, you will have to hire more people. To make that process swift and smooth, you’ll need a steadfast process that your HR team can follow in finding suitable people.
Here’s an example of what a scalable onboarding process should look like:
- Define your goals: What are the skills that your company is lacking?
- Search internally: Do any of your employees have the necessary skills or a desire to learn? Could they fill that position?
- Search externally: Invest in employer marketing, set up good conditions for work and share your expectations in the job description.
- Hire the top candidate: Have systems in place that not only test their skills but their mindset and compatibility with your culture too.
- Guide the new employee: Develop detailed guides that will allow the new employee to adapt quickly, with minimal hand-holding.
Remember to keep a good relationship with candidates that didn’t make the cut — have them on your contact list in case you are in need of more team members.
Your client onboarding process is bound to change with growth.
In the beginning, you have a few clients and you can dedicate enough time to all of them. But with more clients, those efforts suffer.
Thus, it’s crucial to develop an onboarding process that makes your customers happy. Of course, good onboarding doesn’t prevent churn, so you need to work on retaining clients as well. Retention is less expensive than gaining new customers, and rewards could be bigger as well, so make sure that you dedicate enough time to both.
Audit your HR processes and see if any components can be automated. This usually involves recruiting software, employee management software, etc.
Move the majority of repetitive communication to the cloud. For instance, requests could be sent through forms in your systems, employee holidays, sick days and productivity statistics can reside in the cloud too.
The complexity of running your finances will increase as your business grows. One bookkeeper won’t be able to deal with hundreds of checks without making mistakes.
Introduce systems like AP automation and payroll automation. These are simple enough to implement and they will save your staff a lot of time, leaving space for them to focus on truly important things.
Not only will your payment systems be faster and more accurate, but your team’s morale will remain high without repetitive work.
Do you have the right team?
People are the heart of your business. You need them if you want to be ready for growth. However, many companies neglect this.
Take Zappos, for example. In 2015, growth for them meant changing the hierarchy and getting rid of many positions. During that transition, more than 15% of their employees left. Sure, the company grew, but once they reached the next level, they weren’t ready for it.
Of course, Zappos had the finances to cover for it, but would you?
Capacity to handle new work
The first step to building a strong, efficient team is to assess whether your current team can take the increased load of work. And there’s no better way to do this but to ask them. Communicate with your employees and see what their pain points are.
For example, if an employee has too much repetitive work that could be replaced by automation, invest in that. If their work could be easier with the support of software or a different workflow, consider their needs.
The right pipeline for talent/hiring
One of the biggest challenges when scaling your business is hiring the right people. Companies tend to rush the process and end up with multiple wrong choices. You will likely need more people than before, and finding those who have the right skills and the right mindset is difficult.
Here are some steps you could take:
- Hiring part-time employees or freelancers
- Recruiting people from other companies (LinkedIn is an excellent tool for this)
- Use recruiting software
Be clear in your job description and have a list of things that you are not willing to negotiate. Ask for samples of work and references when interviewing people.
Training, education, and growth opportunities
Around 70% of learning happens at work. Only 10% comes from formal training.
You may already have plenty of candidates within your own company — they just need some training. So, reward self-learning, promote mentoring, implement some form of training by professional teachers or experts.
Does your workplace prioritize and champion getting work done?
Growth is never easy, but those companies that have already optimized their workflows and prioritize important work have it easier. Productive environments are more likely to be ready to scale.
You need healthy work structures and practices that encourage and provide time for focused work so it can be delivered and handle new growth.
Businesses can get swallowed up by busywork and admin time
Did you know that employees spend more than a quarter of their week on repetitive tasks? That’s a lot of time wasted – and an easy problem to solve. Here are some tools you can use:
- Slack or Google Hangouts instead of email
- Trello or Asana for setting up tasks
- Reduce the number of meetings (and length)
- Automate processes where possible
Deep work and focus on execution is critical
There’s a big difference between being busy and being productive.
Therein lies the importance of deep work and creating an environment where deep work is possible. No blinking mobile screens or chatty coworkers. Just focus on the job.
Create an area like this within your office and offer your employees an opportunity to work there.
Planning should come first, but can’t consume all the time
The strategy is essential to your process, and it should be worked out in detail. But, it shouldn’t take up most of your time.
Implement and test ideas, communicate with people around you and put in the work that can bring results.
Don’t fear growth － but don’t take it lightly either.
All of this is not to say that your business can’t grow without dying. However, it does mean to remind companies that it could cause chaos if you are not properly prepared for it. Tread carefully and be certain that growth is right for you at your stage of development