Ross Cameron

SmartCompany /

It’s surprising how good intentions can change in the face of business imperatives.

Growing pains

As a business grows, it can become the embodiment of precisely what the founders had hoped to avoid.

“I relish the task of starting off with something small. You’re far more manoeuvrable and it’s great having that manoeuvrability in the market place. But as we’re growing, we find that everything gets so big and you have to become more systemised. The more people you have, the more communication problems you have. When we had four people all we did was have a cup of tea and everyone knew what was going on. There was no communication problem and I really liked that and enjoyed that. I yearn for that period again.” (20-50 employees, Brisbane).

“I can remember when we first had to decide what was the maximum tip we should allow for a bill in a restaurant. And I thought ‘we’re at the ultimate in bureaucracy now’. Because it got to the situation where people were abusing it – putting a $30 or $40 tip on a $100 restaurant bill. And it was over the top, and so we had to develop a policy for what a tip should be.” (100-300 employees, Melbourne).

As one of the business owners in the above quotes points out, a policy on the size of a restaurant tip is about as heavy handed as you can get. But he felt compelled to do it as some of his people were exercising no restraint or common sense.

Business growth can be an extraordinarily challenging experience for a business owner as it requires quite a shift in approach. The essence of what made the business successful and attractive in the first place can be the cause of its demise if business owners are unable to adapt to a change in circumstances.

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