Facing rapid business growth? Focus on your people

As an entrepreneur, it is an incredible feeling when your small business begins to succeed. Suddenly sales are up, business is booming. But it’s also one of the most dangerous times for a start-up.

It can also introduce inefficiencies in business operations and management that might see you micromanaging when you should be looking at the big picture. Flying by the seat of your pants may have worked great when you were a small team. It might not work so great when you have a big team of employees.

But you can manage rapid growth by keeping in mind one simple factor: people. Customers are the reason your business is alive. And behind every customer is a real live person. Keep them happy.

Successful small businesses often create their point of difference by providing stellar, personalised customer service. But rapid growth makes providing this level of customer service extremely difficult.

As your business grows, you should scale your customer service to keep up with the increased demand. Create social media feedback loops. Make sure that you are responding to all commentary, both negative and positive.

When a company is small, there is usually a tight group of people who understand and help manage every aspect of the business. Typically, these people also have some personal interest in seeing the business succeed. When your business expands rapidly, you will, at times, be forced to hire new team members quickly. New team members may not be as invested and management may be less hands-on.

To find great additional talent in a short timeframe, tap into your current employee base. Get your employees involved by having them participate in the hiring process. Take your time to find someone with the key skills and characteristics that embody your business needs and your company culture.

Training also becomes increasingly

important with rapid growth. When processes and technology change, your team needs the training necessary to work with those new systems.

As an entrepreneur, it is tempting to be all things, all the time. But that doesn’t mean that you have all the answers yourself. Great leaders know the value of surrounding themselves with people who are experts and thought leaders. This frees you up to focus on guiding your business as a whole, rather than being bogged down by the day-to-day minutia.

Look for an experienced data analyst who can take the increasing amount of data being generated and give you deeper insights into what it means for your company.

Get a great accountant and consult them regularly, not just at tax times.

Onboard a tech whiz who can put the right technology in place. You may need solutions to rapid-growth problems that you haven’t even considered.

Find a seasoned administrator and a human resources expert. Getting bigger means you need to get more organised and fast. These areas will explode in line with rapid growth, and you can’t (and shouldn’t) manage everything.

Finally, enlist the help of an experienced mentor. Yes, you are smart and talented, and your business is a huge success. Put aside your ego and get help to keep it that way. Rapid growth in a company can be extremely volatile. Having a mentor who can help you recognise the signs of potential problems cannot be underestimated.

From management to employees, to customers, people are the heart and soul of your business. Making sure you keep your focus on your people will help you manage the pitfalls of rapid growth, ensuring you can continue to deliver the exemplary products or services your company is known for.

David Fazio, CEO, MATE

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