Rapid growth is something most business owners dream of, but managing the challenges that come with this kind of expansion comes with some major hurdles. Making sure that your business can deliver on its commitments while maintaining quality standards during such a growth phase can feel like an impossibility. Not only do you need to acquire new equipment and workers to increase capacity, you also need to find a way to pay for all that while training those new workers and trying to assimilate them into your team.
To make sure that your business really benefits in the long term, you’ll need to manage a few important issues.
Address cash flow issues up front
Growth is expensive. The cost of new equipment, hiring and training new employees, and renting or buying additional floorspace adds up fast. Even if new clients were to pay up front, most businesses wouldn’t be able to recover their investment immediately. Because of this, accommodating new growth needs to start with determining what your financial needs will be going forward, and finding solutions for any cash flow issues.
After collecting any overdue debts, it’s a good idea to sit down with your financial representative and discuss your financing options. For a short term boost, you can give your business a quick advance by using invoice financing. Larger and longer-term financing needs can be addressed using a more traditional business loan or business line of credit. Every situation is unique, and it can be tricky to decide on the best option for your situation on your own.
Manage client expectations
Change has a way of disrupting order and leading to mistakes. While your business is growing rapidly it’ll be particularly vulnerable to client retention issues, especially if you went into debt to finance the expansion. If this disruption leads to mistakes and you lose too many clients, you may be unable to recover your investment as quickly as you need.
To deal with this, you’ll need to maintain excellent communication with new and existing customers. They need to understand that your business is undergoing significant changes, and that this could temporarily impact their service despite your staff’s best efforts. Encourage them to bring up any issues that they run into so that you can address them without losing their business. This extra bit of outreach can make all the difference between a client leaving in a huff, or simply calling to let you know there’s been an issue.
Take care of your staff
Unsurprisingly, explosive growth puts enormous strain on your team at every level. Workers might be forced to handle larger workloads while also training new employees, even as managers try to maintain client communication at the same time. To manage this kind of overloaded schedule worker morale needs to be kept high. That means checking in with individual employees about how they’re coping with ongoing changes, and working to ensure that they have the information and tools they need to be successful.
Most importantly, work on empowering employees to communicate with each other to make minor decisions and to prioritise effectively on their own. Provided that they’re trained well, this can lower stress levels in general and also take a significant amount of pressure off the management team, who is likely to be distracted with outward-facing tasks.
Control the hiring rate
It can be tempting to hire as many people as you need as quickly as possible to take advantage of every new growth opportunity. Unfortunately, hiring and training too many new people at once can interfere with your team’s ability to do their usual jobs as they’re trying to also bring new hires up to speed. If those same employees are also taking on oversized workloads, it could lead to serious mistakes and morale problems that could undermine your success in the long run.
The other big issue with this type of reckless uncontrolled hiring is maintaining a stable company culture. The success of your business is ultimately contingent on the people that make up your organisation, and how well they work together. A business that’s trying to cope with rapid growth is obviously doing something right, and you’ll need to take steps to preserve the team dynamic that facilitated that success in the first place. That means that new employees need to be added to the team slowly enough that they’ll assimilate into the existing company culture and get properly incorporated into the team. Onboarding too many new employees too quickly could significantly change the existing team dynamic and lead to problems.
Of course, explosive growth is still a best case scenario in many ways. Many famous unicorn startups, such as Google, Uber, Airbnb, and others experienced this type of growth and managed to harness it with great success. If handled well, these kinds of growth spurts can represent golden opportunities for your business as well.