Dear Aunty B,
I have eight staff and have been trying to grow bigger for the past five years! But it is one step forward to two steps back every time! I know the economy is horrible but I am convinced that my business has more legs and am not just one-eyed with passion.
I have tried expanding geographically, with new products and better technology, and nothing is working. I am getting really frustrated as I am now in my mid-30s and, after a great start where we grew quickly, we have just stalled.
Why is growth so hard? What am I missing? Do I just keep trying?
Dear Growth Challenged,
Just as well I have had my morning coffee. That is a big question. First off, know this: Fast growth is very hard.
From my observations, the difficult transitional points are at about eight staff – right where you are now – 15 staff, 50 staff, 100 staff and so on. To get past these transition points you need to get lots of things right at the same time.
What is more, you have to change the way you do everything to accommodate the larger business or you will see major problems with staff burnout, relationships with clients slipping and poor quality products and services being delivered.
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So what do you have to get right? First, market demand. Have copycats entered the market, nibbling at your niche and making you uncompetitive? Is there enough demand for your product at the right price for you to keep customers and attract new ones?
Is your business model and pricing right? Do you have a clear strategy that pulls everything together and outlines strong growth?
Next is the management team. Putting the right team together is crucial. The business wants to evolve past you as the entrepreneur. Are you standing in the way? To grow to the next stage the business needs a strong strategy and culture and to be led by a great management team.
You need to be leading from the front, energetically forming new networks, creating new strategies and relationships, putting in place new capital supply, understanding the changing competitive landscape and searching for new markets and opportunities.
For you to step away from the business like that you must have a great leadership team in place that aggressively wants to take the business to the next level.
Then you must look at all other elements: your supply chains, distribution, creativity, succession, training etc.
How does each of these evolve to the next stage to support, not hinder growth?
So this time as you plan for growth, don’t hang your hat on one hook. Do a framework for growth and tackle all parts of the equation, methodically and professionally.
Your Aunty B