The 5 Unexpected Pitfalls of Fast Business Growth
Business growth is a sure sign of success. Ergo, the faster your business expands, the more successful you must be, right? But in the midst of all the potential and excitement promised by a wildly successful business, owners often neglect to consider the drawbacks of rapid expansion. That is, until they are swirling in the whirlwind.
The truth is, fast business growth isn’t all popularity and financial bliss. There are numerous unexpected pitfalls that could stunt your growth before you even get a chance to enjoy the prosperity. Here are some of the most common growing pains you should watch out for.
1. The Unraveling of a Standardized Process
As you begin to rapidly grow, you’ll need to improvise to meet increased demand. The higher demand climbs, the less time you’ll have to redesign workflows to account for volume and new employees. At this point, your old processes will stop working effectively. This is right about the time businesses enter a state of free fall.
- Start by addressing operations that directly affect customer experience (like ordering and order-processing systems).
- Turn away customers if you must. Don’t over-promise and under-deliver.
- Leverage technologies that will help streamline and automate. This will free your management and employees to focus on more pressing areas of business.
2. The Dissipation of Your Company Culture
When you grow fast and hire quickly, you run the risk of losing the spark that ignited your explosive growth.
Businesses often bring on too many contractors to keep up with growing demand, and these people may not be as invested in the company and end up walking away with insider intel. And demand is so great, there is no time for proper training and onboarding. It’s “sink or swim,” and company culture often gets compromised in the riptide.
- Define yourself. Is your company young and trendy, or professional and sophisticated?
- Expound your mission statement and values.
- Set cultural expectations for your organization.
- Build enthusiasm behind your company’s mission and values. Lead by example.
- Do not hire outside your company culture. Make adequate time for hiring and recruit the right people.
3. The Downfall of Great Customer Service
Rapid growth means less face time with customers. It also means an onslaught of new customers who easily distract businesses from their current customers—you know, the patrons who helped them get where they are today, and are fully capable of making or breaking your reputation.
- Set a company-wide standard of excellence in customer service.
- Address customer issues and questions quickly and thoughtfully.
- Actively ask for feedback from customers.
- Listen closely to customers and use intel to refine operations.
4. High Employee Turnover
Fast business growth will undoubtedly test the endurance and loyalty of your staff. For them, your success means facing a lot of changes. If they feel over-worked and under-valued, you risk veteran employees jumping ship faster than you can replace them.
- Incentivize hard work; give bonuses and positive reinforcement.
- Invite them to be a part of the process. Ask for their input as you reshape your brand and processes.
- Invest in your employees. Equip them with the tools they need to succeed.
5. Spatial Challenges
As you hire more employees, expand departments and prepare to meet heightened demands, you will inevitably outgrow your space. But the answer isn’t necessarily to expand office space. First, you need to understand how your employees are using their workspace, and whether all areas of your office space are being optimally utilized.
- Listen to your employees and the requests they make.
- Be present on the floor.
- Utilize space management software to monitor employee usage of space and assets, and to forecast future needs.
- Expand accordingly.
With the right tools and practical knowledge, it is entirely possible to grow your business with grace. Keep these pitfalls in mind so you have the insight necessary to navigate your business in the right direction—even at full speed.
Editor's Note: This post was previously published on Inc.com and has been republished here with permission.