There is no doubt that the most sensitive part of any small business’ life is its very infancy. Those early days are the most sensitive and the most perilous, warranting Herculean amounts of care and tact on the behalf of their owners.
You’d think that the next stage in an SMEs life would be much easier – that stage where the growing pains disappear and you can start thinking about growing your small business. In reality, this stage is only a fraction less tricky than your company’s earliest days.
To put it another way – you need to know how to grow your small business the right way.
Don’t skip steps
The first thing you need to understand is that growing your small business has to happen in steps where every move you make is the logical continuation of the previous step.
For example, you will not take out a massive loan in order to finance a new office before you hire new people and outgrow your current office. You will also not go hiring new people unless there is work for them to do, i.e. before you start getting more and more accounts.
This is a very blunt and simple example, but you get the picture.
The ‘not skipping your steps’ credo works on another level. Namely, small businesses usually grow gradually and they do not explode going from 5 clients to 500 in a couple of months. Even if you find yourself in a similar situation (it will undoubtedly be less extreme), you need to make sure that the step you are taking is not too much for your small business.
You do not want to step out and then fail to reach the other side, to keep the metaphor going.
You may think that this is being too cautious, but you would be surprised how many SMEs failed because they underwent uncontrolled growth.
Hire when certain
There is much more to hiring than most of us think. Unless you have had the experience in the hiring industry, you will most likely run into all kinds of complications once you start hiring people on a regular or semi-regular basis, which happens when you are growing your business.
Rushing to hire someone is just the worst thing you can do for a number of reasons. For one, you will be missing out on the really great fits, people who will understand what your company is about and who will have the skills and the experience you need from them. You will also discover that your bad hires are leaving your company at an alarming rate, leaving you in a perpetual cycle of hiring new people just to see them walk out the door.
In order to have any semblance of certainty when hiring, you need to figure out a hiring process that will be structured and that will revolve around certain clearly defined parameters that will allow you to assess your candidates as similarly as you can.
Spending some time to learn about this can be one of the best things you will do for your growing small business. Alternatively, you can reach out to a recruitment agency of some kind and acquire their services. This comes with its own bag of potential problems, but it can sometimes be a good choice.
Always follow the numbers
Once small business owners manage to stabilize their companies and it becomes obvious that they can start thinking about the future, it becomes quite easy to get carried away. This is purely human. You accomplished something truly spectacular (you kept your SME afloat) and you get the feeling that everything has opened up for you and your growing company.
While in a certain way this is true, it is also exceptionally important that you stay grounded in this new situation. In other words, you have to stick to the numbers.
By now, you have either verified your business model as a fantastic blueprint that should guide your future decisions or you have found ways to modify it in a way that will make sense in the future, as well. When you start making moves, you need to consult your business plan and your financial projections every step of the way.
Every move that you make has to make sense on a big picture level. Every decision needs to be worked out and then double-checked a number of times to ensure that the figures align.
For instance, you do not want to go overspending on digital marketing because you have a hunch it will work out for the best. Set your goals, try to predict your ROI, determine your key performance indicators and make the move only and only if it makes sense.
There is something liberating and almost calming in the predictability of mathematics.
Keep things rolling
While many SME owners get carried away once they start growing their business, there are also those who start feeling extra apprehensive about any significant decision. They start to think that things are great the way they are and they stop making any decisions that have even the slightest risk attached to them.
They forget what put them in a situation where they can even think about growing their business. And once again, this is perfectly human.
You need to avoid this trap if you wish your company to grow even further. You have the momentum and you need to keep it going.
Rebecca writes for Accountant Online an Award Winning practice in Ireland.
Your latest digital marketing campaign grew your customer base by 15 percent? Is there a way to build on it and bring in ten percent more? What can you do to ensure this growth in customer base is not eaten away by a massive churn?
You always need to think into the future and find ways to fuel the growth of your company. This does not have to be anything spectacular. As long as you are not stagnating or reverting, you will be okay.
Keep your business growing.