You have contingency plans in place for when things go wrong, but what will you do when things go right – or better than right? What will you do when your performance exceeds your expectations?
Companies that experience rapid and unexpected growth often stumble. Here’s how to be sure that doesn’t happen to you:
1. Know what growth looks like. To prepare for something, you have to know what it is and how you’ll recognize it. Growth is more than just hitting a set of numbers. Consider what your financial goals mean in terms of operations, production, staffing, facilities, and other critical resources.
2. Maintain relationships with your funding sources. The faster you grow, the more cash you’re likely to need to fund that growth. Growth financing is every bit as hard – if not harder – to get than startup funding. Develop and maintain strong relationships with your lenders and be sure to have primary and backup sources available.
3. Do regular cash-flow projections. You need to know how much credit you’re going to need well in advance of the time you have to start writing checks. In today’s financial climate, it’s harder than ever to predict credit availability, so stay on top of your cash and financial needs so you have plenty of room to maneuver when it’s time to borrow.
4. Get comfortable in the spotlight. Successful owners of growing companies are almost always in the spotlight to some degree – maybe not always to the general public, but at least within your industry and certainly with your employees. Be prepared for a level of attention that you probably haven’t received before.
5. Hire people for where you want to be, not where you are. The team that can successfully run a $1 million company is not the same team that can run a $100 million company. If your goal is growth, hire people who can perform in the size company you want to be – they’ll help you get there.
6. Put the right people in the right places. Getting the right people in the right jobs is absolutely critical for sustained growth. Take a systematic approach to hiring and career development with tools such as job benchmarking and whole person assessments – you’ll reduce your turnover and hiring mistakes.
7. Take care of your people. You may be the driving force behind your company, but your employees are what keep you successful, so recognize and reward that – if you don’t, you’ll risk losing top talent. Create an environment where people are willing to work through the growing pains. In addition to your employees, take care of your suppliers, your professional advisors, and anyone else who can have an impact on your operation.
8. Listen to the experts. You may be an expert in your business, but you can’t know it all. What’s more, there will often be experts who know more about particular parts of an industry than the insiders. Identify the experts, listen to them, learn from them and let them help smooth out your learning curves.
9. Stay close to your customers. The one essential element no company can do without is customers, and if you don’t stay close to them, you’ll lose them. Know what they need, but more important, know what they want and do everything you can to give that to them. Most important: Communicate with them. Never let them wonder what’s going on – tell them, whether it’s good or bad.
10. Focus on your core business and don’t get distracted. Stick to the business your company knows best. When you do things that are unrelated to your core business, you confuse your customers and your employees – and you’re likely to find that dividing your efforts reduces the quality and profitability of everything.
Don’t let a wave of unexpected growth knock you down. Be prepared to manage it and ride it to and beyond your original goal.
What are you doing to prepare for success? Join the conversation below.