Ask any small business owner and she is likely to tell you that she desires to grow her company. Noone pursues entrepreneurship to flatline. And while there are always ways to improve and expand your business… growth doesn’t just mean more money. Expansion can also mean new things to consider and issues that you may not have faced in the past.
Being aware of potential issues can help ensure that you’re able to navigate the process of scaling your business. Although we can’t list out every situation that could arise, we can point out a few major ones that you’ll want to keep in mind.
Rapid growth usually involves bringing in more people to your business. Even if you were successful as a one-woman show, growth can mean that you need an extra set of hands to help you keep up with demand. Most entrepreneurs or small business owners try to keep expenses down and work with the bare minimum that they can, and aren’t prepared for the costs associated with the need for more space.
If outsourcing some of your work to freelancers or contract workers isn’t an option, seek out ways to facilitate your growth that won’t negatively affect your bottom line. For example, if you need additional space to store inventory, do you really need to rent a warehouse, or could you rent a climate-controlled storage locker? Or, if you need someone to help with the large orders that come in, can you use a contractor over hiring a new employee?
Let’s say you have an e-commerce store and you’re running your site on a standard, low-cost server that provides enough bandwidth for approximately 1,000 online customers each week. If your web traffic starts to increase to 5,000 customers/week, what do you think will happen? Your site will likely crash.
Think about how many times you’ve gone to buy something only to face the ‘oops’ page on a site. Guess what? They weren’t prepared for an unexpected increase in traffic or sale. How many sales did that business just lose? We may never know but we do know that it’s not a good look and it’s something that you want to avoid at all costs.
Make sure that your tech resources can be expanded when needed. For example, you may need to consider moving cloud-based or software defined storage, where you’ll be able to upgrade at any time and not miss a beat with sales or increased traffic. Or create a relationship with your host company. Find out if they have the option to automatically increase your capacity if this were to happen. They may even be able to bill you on the back end. Know what’s available to you. Because the ultimate goal is an increase in traffic, you just want to be ready for it!
Part of the appeal of a small business is the friendly, personal touch that customers experience when they do business with you. As you start strategizing on growing your business, look for ways to maintain the same level of service that your customers have become accustomed too. You’ll not only hold on to your loyal customers but you’ll wow your new ones too.
You may be happy with the way your business currently runs. So far it’s been what has made you successful. But make no mistake about it the way you operate your small business might look a lot different than what it takes to operate big business. Don’t believe us? …when’s the last time you watched an episode of The Profit.
If you don’t want to miss a beat, get the right people in place ahead of time.
- Create a mastermind group of other entrepreneurs that have achieved the level of success that you are working towards.
- Get a mentor that is well-seasoned in your industry.
- Hire new team members that have worked for a company that has already experienced the growth that you’re headed for.