Developing and opening your own business is a dream for many Americans, perhaps the ultimate fulfilment of self-sufficiency and industrious virtue. To say nothing of the perks that come with being your own boss. However like all things worth having, owning and running a business requires a tremendous investment of effort, time and finances, and it is a long, laborious climb to the top. What doesn’t help matters is that problems only increase as your business grows.
It’d be nice to think that once you’ve gotten your business up and running things are relatively smooth from there. Like sending a ball down a hill, all it needs is a little push in the right direction before momentum takes it the rest of the way. Naturally, this is naïve at best.
As your company grows and branches out into new territories from a commercial perspective, you’ll simply encounter new problems to replace the old one. While the old growing pains may be gone, your business still runs risks from all sorts of other calamities that a smaller business may have never needed to consider. As your growth continues, these sorts of situations will only grow more frequent, and more challenging to your growing small business.
Common Challenges for a Growing Business
One of the first major problems for a small business about to blossom into a middle-weight enterprise is what’s called founder dependence. Your company revolves too much around you and your decisions. This is not to say that having the company founder in a position of importance is necessarily a bad thing – it is a completely natural outcome from starting the business in the first place. However, one has to ask what is going to happen if something happens that means the founder cannot fulfil their old position anymore, such as retirement or leaving the company. This is also true if there is more than one company founder, such as a partnership.
A problem can also arise if the founder in question cannot let go of certain methods that may have served well in the early days of the growing business, but are now detrimental to its success. They may also be unwilling or unable to make the necessary decisions vital to its continued growth.
Hypothetically this is easy to overcome – the founder just has to start letting go of certain powers and responsibilities and delegate management to other figures, inviting extra voices and minds to the decision-making process. However, this is dependent on the willingness of the founder to do so. Stubborn, micromanaging founders may rail against such attempts to, as they see it, steal the company from under them.
Another problem that may face expanding companies is the addition of clashing personalities. When your company is still new, you are more able to tailor and adjust the corporate culture in such a way that everyone can get along and work with each other’s talents and mindsets. However, company growth will inevitably bring in new people whose temperaments will disrupt the delicate balance that you have built. This is especially true if they’ve been invited to share a position that had previously, for a long time, been held by one person or a small, close-knit group of people.
This will necessitate rebuilding a corporate culture that can adequately accommodate the varying characters you will attract under your company umbrella, as well as finding ways of peacefully and seamlessly integrating new faces and minds. Careful screening of people during interviews to see how they’d fit into the current team will also help prevent potential clashes before they occur, as well as careful positioning within the business.
Client stagnation can also pose a risk to companies trying to expand. Having reliable, longstanding clients can certainly be a boon to any business, providing a steady source of custom and revenue. However, your growing company cannot depend on a small number of dedicated clients, especially as the costs of your new expansions will grow with it. Should even one of your usual customers suddenly stop paying for your products or services, it could well cripple you. As such, diversification of your customers and clients is essential for your long-term growth and survival.
Finally, a final problem that may face growing businesses, as might be expected, is getting used to your expanded logistics and the various rebalances you’ll need to take into account. After all you’ve probably just gotten your outflow and inflow of goods and services finely tuned and adjusted to your company’s needs. Expanding, therefore, such as by opening a new premises in another town or state, can quickly upset this delicate balance and create a logistical headache for your to clean up and manage. The aftershocks of this upset can quickly drive your finances down if you are not sufficient in your damage control.
Take your time when expanding your business, plan very carefully, and make sure your company is prepared not just for the expansion, but any foreseen and unforeseen costs that arise from it. Try to avoid rushing into things, and always have a contingency plan in case things don’t go as you want them to. Also look to your tools for organizing your resources. As you grow, managing these resources becomes ever more important, and having software to help you keep track is essential. As you grow, look into ERP software, an example of which can be found at scoro.com.
Remember, as you grow, adapt to survive.
Christian Mills is a freelance writer who specializes in business topics, and one of his favorite topics is how to manage growth. Afterall, if you are having these problems, then you must have been doing something right. If you wish to learn more about Christian you can visit his profile on Google+.