Managing expansion for successful business growth

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To ensure business growth, SMEs need to anticipate upcoming challenges around finances, culture, leadership and internal operations. It can be easy for SMEs to get lost in the changes that arise from growth, as areas including expense management, job roles, departmental boundaries, working conditions, and corporate culture complexity. Managers need to be prepared for the extra work and responsibilities that accompany growing business and put into place the right strategies and mindset to facilitate positive and successful growth.

There are four key factors for successful business growth:

  1. Prepare for finance and expense changes
    As companies acquire more sales, and new customers and clients, profit will rise. However, this change will also demand more investments into resources, whether this be stock, inventory, technology, or digital and marketing assistance. As SMEs grow, they might even find themselves requiring more staff and physical space, potentially in different cities, states or even countries, further adding to payroll, rent and property-related expenses. Companies should adopt automated finance platforms that can manage various costs, process payment data, and develop comprehensive finance reports for periodical budget revision. If done right, these additional expenses are all worthwhile in business’s expansion journey.
  2. Define and maintain culture
    SMEs scaling up need to keep corporate culture front of mind. As new employees come on board, company culture can change and become lost, leaving employees feeling unsatisfied. It’s critical that growth objectives don’t overshadow individual employees, and that companies regularly recognise and communicate the valuable work employees perform. It’s important that corporate culture remains steady, and a valued driver backing successful growth. Of course, as businesses expand, company culture can change and even improve, with new values and goals motivating the work employees do.
  3. Implement leaders
    As a business grows and takes on new staff and segments, it’s worth creating separate departments or factions within the organisation, with different responsibilities. These departments will also all require leaders with experience in respective areas, and with their own abilities to manage internal culture, and report back to seniors. Setting up a chain of command can relieve pressure for senior management, and help each employee have their needs better tended to on the front line. It also ensures things operate quicker and more efficiently. Furthermore, SMEs will also need seniors who are capable of handling larger-scale concerns and issues that arise in different departments professionally, to best support the company as it expands.
  4. Keep internal operations clear and smooth as things change
    Growing companies with expanding responsibilities and scope will also need to introduce the right technology to support change. Automated technologies can free up staff from repetitive and mundane tasks like data entry and document or invoice processing, and direct them to more important tasks that actively fuel business growth. Likewise, as organisations take on more clients and activities, they will likely need to send employees on business travel trips to meet and greet new clients, or scope out potential areas for future growth. It’s important that these employees continue working as normal while they’re interstate or overseas, and that they can access documents, information, and travel and finance resources through accessible, online apps on their personal devices. Technology plays an integral role in ensuring internal job task and operational changes are seamless and beneficial.

Growth is a great venture for SMEs looking to take the next step, and being prepared for change is key in making scalability successful. Quintessentially, SMEs need to make sure their employees are happy, their internal processes are productive, and their outlook is carefully planned before and during growth, for the best chances at success.

Fabian Calle, General Manager – SMB, SAP Concur ANZ