Businesses in the current climate are trying to keep their heads above water. When furlough schemes end, there’s going to be a lot of adjustment. Gearing up for growth is the last thing on business owners’ minds.
But that’s not to say it’s impossible. There are many sectors experiencing growth currently, as well as some entirely new segments of the market that have cropped up to deal with this situation. The PPE and cycling industries have seen enormous growth this year, which doesn’t look likely to let up as lockdowns ease globally.
Properly planned growth can be a goldmine. McDonalds’ owes its rapid growth to the invention of the Drive-Thru, at a time when the automobile industry was booming in the US. Matchesfashion grew from one store run by founder Tom Chapman, to a global luxury brand selling to over 175 countries. More recently, Netflix is a company which has experienced enormous growth. CEO Reed Hastings claims that, “most entrepreneurial ideas will sound crazy, stupid and uneconomic, and then they’ll turn out to be right.”
But, if you are one of the lucky ones, how do you prepare your business for growth?
The importance of planning ahead
When you are just getting started, planning far ahead might seem like too much too soon. But they are more important than many entrepreneurs give them credit for. There are plenty of disaster stories of companies who grew quickly without proper planning. When Mark Pincus founded gaming giant Zynga, they garnered millions of downloads with apps like Mafia Wars and Poker. They expanded their staff and spent $100 million on their own data centres. But their failure to innovate ultimately hurt them, and they were forced to downsize to cut costs.
Plans force you to make important decisions. When weighing up options, they provide an easy, documented way to lay out choices. Without a plan, you will drift and deviate from your vision. And that doesn’t mean you have to be dogmatic about it. If you see an untapped font of revenue, then don’t let your plan hold you back.
It’s important to set goals. You need to know when to have a certain amount of employees, revenue, and products sold. Goals allow you to look inwardly. Without them, you will spin your wheels instead of driving the company forward. Reducing risk with extensive forecasting lets you understand what might go wrong and strategize for when they do.
Hire the right people
Companies are only as good as their talent. That’s true from the bottom of the ladder to the top. For proper growth, your employees need to know what’s expected of them. So, ensure you critically evaluate their work. Performance reviews are vital to this.
Your business plan gives you goals to strive towards but setting targets for your staff is just as important. Bonuses and benefits are great incentives for them to keep performing. If you reward their hard work, you will no doubt find yourself with a loyal, productive workforce.
If you find admin is taking up too much of your time, or you are having difficulty giving feedback to your employees, then it might be time to hire an HR manager. Streamlining the hiring process is vital for growth. When you find yourself in a period of rapid expansion, you will be glad you made the decision to bring on an HR team.
Part of the fun in a startup environment is that employees are flying by the seat of their pants. Nothing is set in stone, and everyone works to drive the business forward. However, as you grow this is not the best way to operate. You need to ensure how you do things as a business is well documented. Putting your process down on paper ensures your employees can visualise the work they do from beginning to end.
Unless a process is defined end to end, there’s no way for you and your employees to know if you are meeting the requirements. This also gives you the ability to scale the business. If you know what’s needed to complete the process, then you know what you need more of to ensure there is more output. Likewise, the right documentation lets you know if there’s room for improvement.
Stay close to the consumers
In order to grow, you must look at how you are going to do it in the first place. If you distance yourself from your customers, your growth will eventually slow and stagnate. It’s important to remember what made you successful in the first place.
It’s difficult to feel close to large companies. That’s why you must continue to give your work a personal touch at every opportunity. Methods like sending consumers personalised emails and rewarding longstanding customers for their loyalty are great ways to start.
There are other tactics that have been coming into play recently. Conversational marketing to help capture leads is an excellent way to connect with consumers. Engaging with consumers on web chats and social media is key. Chatbots software is developing at a rapid rate, with many consumers often unable to tell the difference between it and a real employee, so it’s wise to utilize it.
Growth without a proper plan is unsustainable and may ultimately be your downfall. But with the right people in the right places, the proper processes to guide them, and a close relationship with your customers, you are on track for healthy and continuous expansion