A high growth business is an exciting thing to be a part of, but there’s no doubt that scaling up quickly is a steep learning curve with plenty of challenges.
There are plenty of benefits to something that takes off so quickly – employees tend to be motivated and proud to be part of something that’s firing on all cylinders, and there’s a lot of positive PR to communicate to clients and funders. You feel like you’re on the winning team.
While that is all hugely positive, it would be unduly naïve to pretend there aren’t potential setbacks along the way – challenges that you and your staff will face as you navigate rapid changes. Some of these potential problems can be avoided with a little careful planning. Others are more to do with achieving the right mind-set to steer and develop a high-growth operation.
Get Prepared to Get Hiring
A rapidly upscaling operation requires lots of new blood – so hiring will become an inescapable part of the workload. Don’t fall into the trap of underestimating the time and costs of going through so much recruitment. It’s also an important process to get right, as hiring the wrong people can be more costly in the long run, and very counter-productive at a time when you need all hands on deck. You’ll need to ensure that you develop accurate and detailed role profiles, have the time to search for and screen potential candidates, check references and handle the on-boarding process. Although hiring a recruitment consultant may seem like an expense you could do without, if you have a whole load of appointments to make it could definitely save you time and money – plus make sure that you get the right people in post, as quickly as possible.
Attracting Exceptional People
A rapidly growing, ambitious business needs employees who can match that in terms of pace and enthusiasm – those who are comfortable at thinking on their feet, innovating, and thinking strategically at every level. If there’s one thing guaranteed about fast development, it’s that you will be encountering new problems and challenges on a daily basis, so it’s imperative to have people around you who can take this in their stride and drive forward appropriate solutions – whether that be solving supply-chain issues or coming up with new marketing strategies. Seek out similar entrepreneurs that have led rapid-growth operations and glean all the words of wisdom you can. Either in-person at industry-specific networking events or by listening to podcasts by business leaders such as Issa Asad. Some pro tips will help you balance keeping control with delegating effectively, which will be key to the success of your growth strategy.
Finding Funding Support
You may be turning over money rapidly, but cashflow can actually be one of the most contentious issues for high-growth businesses. Many a company with talent and potential has come unstuck when the financial details are not controlled with an eagle eye. Expenditure is highly necessary to fuel rapid upscaling – there may be large capital investments to make in equipment, packaging, materials or space, before the profits start materialising. That can lead to quite a shortfall, especially if you deal with inventory or receivables. Careful planning and constant monitoring is needed to meet this challenge. Cash flow projections are paramount to avoiding shortfalls in cash, and you may be able to find state-sponsored funding pots available specifically for high-growth businesses, aimed at supporting them to make the investment they need at a time when finances are still being stabilised. This funds will require rigorous financial plans as well. If you have been used to revisiting financial projections on a quarterly or yearly basis, it may be wise to make these much more frequent. Plans will change responsively, several times throughout the year, as your situation is moving so rapidly. You may need to be build flexibility into expenditure arrangements with leasing of space and equipment, suppliers and even staff, so that you have the ability to meet fluctuating circumstances and make a swift response to dips and peaks in your cashflow forecast. Overhead expenses must not be allowed to mount up. For a while, even if your company is gathering pace quickly, you will probably still be operating with very slim profit margins that don’t leave room for error.
Plan Ahead for Taxes
As your company and its revenues jump in size, pay careful attention to the tax implications, as these may catch many a high-growth business out. Taxes are not directly linked to sales that you have made – you may find that your business moves tax brackets, so be prepared for this. Similarly, the calendar constraints of tax admin may mean you find that your estimated owings are based on an especially profitable period when you then experience a dip. Working with a good small business accountant is absolutely key to keep on top of what growth implications have for the amount you will owe.
Self Development for High Growth Leaders
As leader of your business, a lot of the possibility and success for operations is down to your own mind-set. Usually, you will have well developed skills to have gotten your company this far, but it is well worth remembering that your energies are one of the most important assets you have at your disposal. It may be that you need to learn to critically evaluate your own skillset – be honest with yourself, you can’t be an expert in everything. What development do you need to undertake to ensure you can meet the leadership demands you will be encountering at this period of rapid development? It can be enormously helpful to ‘start with why’ – a concept developed by Simon Sinek. Really consider what the ‘why’ of your company is – that’s what will get customers bought in, not the ‘how’ or ‘what’. Its your forward vision for the company that will ‘sell’ to employees and investors too – so make sure that you are able to clearly articulate what this is. Think elevator pitch!