Being a business owner is a good many things.
It requires a wardrobe full of different hats. Your ‘good boss’ hat, your ‘bad boss’ hat, your ‘inner bookkeeper’ hat, your ‘best organizational skills’ hat, your ‘boundaries’ hat, your ‘work/life balance’ hat…
One of the hats that many business owners fail to pack and plan for is rapid business expansion. So many business owners constantly wear their ‘everyday business’ hat and they are unprepared for the unexpected explosion of business that could befall them.
What will happen if you don’t plan to succeed?
Below 2 guest bloggers provide 2 different perspectives of planning for unexpected growth in your business.
First Hand Experience
A few years ago, The Feisty Empire grew rapidly from one to six people.
I’d asked my biggest (and busiest) client if it was worth my while training new copywriters so I could provide a national service to all their offices. Business was booming, so they told me to go for it.
I’d been training one person to my level for almost two years. Along the way, this brilliant associate documented my lessons. We turned them into tools that could be used with subsequent trainees.
As my workload grew, I took on new writers and trained them with ever greater speed and efficiency. One glorious fortnight, when we were at full capacity, we billed over $10,000 of writing services. That was a very happy day.
Then the whole thing came crashing down. Without warning, my client hired three copywriters in one month. This more than halved my workload overnight.
Suddenly I had people sitting idle. I tried desperately to find work for them. But one by one, they had to find other opportunities. Eventually, it was just the two of us again. Finally, it was just me. Business had shrunk by 82%! I’d had almost all my eggs in one client basket.
Fortunately, I’d put everyone on as independent contractors. I didn’t have to pay them out, but I felt dreadful that I’d failed to deliver the work I’d honestly expected to arrive in torrents.
It was a bitter lesson for me. All those hours of careful training down the tubes. My business took over two years to recover from the shock.
The good news is that my first trainee went on to become a Master. He now has his own writing business, and we back each other up without being in each other’s pockets.
This gives us maximum freedom, flexibility and respect. Trust is paramount. When I’m overloaded, I send him work for my most valuable clients, knowing that he won’t stab me in the back.
I don’t know if this would work for everyone, but that’s how we do it at The Feisty Empire.
Paul Hassing, The Feisty Empire
4 Steps To Consider
While no small business would ever turn down the prospect of business growth, rapid growth can certainly prove testing for a small business owner. In a growth period, a small business will suffer if there is a lack of consistency, systems, processes, outsourcing and customer care. If you do not have these areas under control mistakes will be made, existing clients may feel neglected, your workload will not be sustainable, and you will not encourage long-term growth.
Easier said than done? The first step to thriving in your growth period is to control your time by looking at where your time is spent and outsource that which you do not add particular value to. The second step is to keep records of how your time and assess what is the best use of your time, what processes can be systemised. The third step is to be consistent. This is not the time to take a step back in your marketing. In fact, this is the time to use marketing to leverage your immediate growth and use it to generate even more long-term success.
Finally, think of your business as a family who welcomes a newborn baby into their world. While they are excited about the new baby and pay so much attention to caring for its many needs, they cannot neglect the existing family members who still need love, attention and a feeling of importance.
You may find it helpful to have a support network or mentor offer a birds-eye perspective of your growing business. When you experience an increase in enquiries, customers, administration and all the extra work and responsibility associated with it, it is vital to have connections who can help you see what is slipping through the cracks so that you can continue to have healthy growth in your business.
Phoebe Netto, Managing Director, Good Business Consulting
Share with us: Is your business prepped and ready for rapid growth?
What systems do you have in place to cope?
Stay tuned for Part 2!