How to approach rapid business growth in a sustainable way

Everyone wants their company to grow, but when significant growth happens too fast it can be the downfall of a fledgling business. Systems need to be in place to sustain a growing business model; if your foundation isn’t strong enough to handle the weight of new additions to your home, it’s going to crumble. As Spring passes and growth is all around us, consider these tips for ensuring your company can maintain strong, healthy roots beneath the maturing oak. 

Know Your Why for Growth

You see the effects of growth in your business; the work is increasing and so is the cash flow. But do you know why? Have there been recent changes in the marketplace or among your closest competitors?  Which characteristics that set your business apart are making you the more desirable option right now?

It’s important to understand why growth is occurring, but it’s even more important to ensure that these reasons align with your core values. When business is booming, it can be too easy to lose sight of your mission and purpose, and with this, your company can begin to inadvertently grow in a different direction. This isn’t always bad; core values can evolve, but this should be a deliberate choice rather than an eventual realization. Ensure that you are growing for the right reasons and that you are still reaching and meeting the needs of the consumer base that you want to serve. 

Once you’ve identified what is making you such an attractive option in your target market and confirmed they align with your core values, you can elevate these differentiators to the pinnacle of your business model. These growth drivers should be a priority to maintain and enhance as much as possible. Continue to nourish these areas, and consider evaluating existing processes and protocols for opportunities to streamline and improve. 

Prepare a Growth Strategy

Once you’ve identified WHY you’re growing, it’s time to formalize a plan for how this growth will impact your business in the long term. As a first step, evaluate a variety of data points, including your AP, AR, overhead costs, staffing, and even market/industry trends. Consider what growth means for these areas, and what is needed to keep growth sustainable in each area. 

Review a few questions: Am I having cash flow issues? Am I getting paid fast enough? Is my team equipped to handle growth? Do I have enough capital? Are my processes the most efficient? Forecast your earning potential, as well as your future overhead costs and increased labor, should growth continue. Does this estimation still keep you in the green moving forward? If not, it might be time to refinance. 

SWOT analysis or other decision tools can be helpful here to organize your thoughts and findings, and to start getting things down on paper. If you already have a business plan, it’s time to revisit and update given your recent learnings. If you don’t, it’s definitely time to build one. I offer a comprehensive guide for building a powerful business plan in 90 days. A rock-solid business plan is a foundation for a growing business needs, and it helps prepare you for changes and obstacles ahead. If you want your rapidly growing business to be an imperishable monument in your industry, this plan will serve as the roadmap for where you want to be.

Keep Customers Top of Mind

Growth should never sacrifice the customer experience. Ensure that proper process structures are in place to facilitate the same or similar levels of support for your loyal consumer base. Note how I use the words “same or similar”. If your clients are used to accessing a live support contact quite easily, for example, and you implement a complicated phone tree to help reduce call volume, this could be considered a big change in experience for some of your most loyal connections. As they say, don’t bite the hand that feeds you; rapid growth could also lead to a rapid plunge in business if your clients aren’t getting the support they are used to or were promised. A less intrusive change in this instance could be an additional hire to field some of the contacts, or even a special VIP “concierge” number for your veteran clients that circumvents your new phone tree. 

Consider gathering customer feedback as you grow to ensure satisfaction and to keep an eye on any bubbling issues. Be aware of the latest chatter about your business on consumer review sites and social media as well to keep a pulse on how experiences are going. Brand management options even exist like Yext, for example, to make it easy to evaluate reviews about your business across many digital platforms⁠—all in one place.  

Work with a coach and mentor

A coach or mentor can be hugely beneficial for a small business that finds itself growing quickly. Find someone who you gel with and who has experience with transforming small businesses into forces to be reckoned with. A licensed business coach with rapid growth experience can give you the right guidance to jump-start your small company in a sustainable way. If you’re looking to maintain healthy roots beneath the maturing oak that is your business, is it always a good idea to consult an experienced gardener for advice. 

About Joe McCullum, Eagles’ Wings Business Coaching: As a licensed business coach with over 30 years of experience, I have collaborated with and led more than twenty companies in six states through various growing pains, including financial recoveries, system restructures, ownership changes, staff reductions, and stable, purposeful growth. If you’re experiencing rapid growth and your internal structures are bending by the weight of this influx, consider signing up for one of my no-obligation, complimentary business coaching sessions. I’m excited to help you strengthen your business’ foundations for long-term growth and success.