By Jason Falcon
“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” – Babe Ruth
Whether in sports or business, we know the greatest achievers are those who don’t let challenges keep them down. What separates the successful from the mediocre is their persistence in overcoming struggles.
So if you’re feeling growing pains in your small business, use these tips to help you move past the discomfort and onto a new stage.
1. Restructure Processes as You Grow
As you grow, your original policies, processes, and procedures often become obsolete because the structure of your team changes.
It’s tempting to skimp on updating policies and training your team in new processes, but you’ll find it makes your business much more viable. Without effective systems, you’ll see a decline in quality and a rise in the number of unhappy customers. Quality control is paramount to the success of your business. Without your product or service measuring up, your business doesn’t stand a chance.
Ineffective systems also leave employees frustrated and inefficient. Rather than thriving in the workplace, they may feel impaired by unnecessary procedures or policies.
Effective systems work to everyone’s benefit. They help employees do their jobs better, without getting in the way of productivity. People are more satisfied with their work, which motivates them to do their best. When you keep your customers happy with a high-quality product, and your employees thriving, your business stays healthy and keeps growing.
2. Keep Employees in the Loop
As rapid growth often creates organized chaos, it’s important to keep your employees up-to-speed. When they know what’s happening with the company, they’ll understand the reasons for change.
Again, you want satisfied workers willing to back organizational shifts for the sake of the big picture. But they can’t see the big picture if you don’t show it to them. And they won’t always support those new processes without seeing a reason to change. Create a culture of honesty. Then, as changes so quickly happen, keep your team informed and keep that big picture in the forefront.
At the start of a small business, you are the business. You perform the important tasks, and you supply the energy, direction and the capital. But as the business grows, you have to hire others — usually people with a skill set different than yours. Growing businesses demand more than you may be willing to offer. So supplement your areas of strength with other people playing to their strengths.
Delegation doesn’t stop with you. You need to distribute employee responsibilities as well. When a company begins, a few people shoulder all the responsibilities. As you grow, those roles need to change when new employees come onboard.
To ease that transition, choose clear job titles and write thorough job descriptions so each employee knows exactly what is expected of them. Delegation is also much easier when you’ve documented the in’s and out’s of your business with systems and processes (see #1).
4. Keep Up With the Market
Whether you’re in real estate or another business, market conditions change quickly. You’re finding success because of your insight into the market. Don’t let that slip.
When you keep up with the changes, you keep your business relevant. Ask questions as you seek to understand your target consumers. Don’t assume you know what your clients want. Research what they want.
Then research some more.
5. Develop a Marketing Plan
As you set goals for where you want your organization to be in five years, don’t forget the vehicles you need to get there. A marketing plan is vital to grow your small business into a stable organization. It’s easy to put off the development of a marketing plan in the midst of trying to make your business survive. The problem is, it’s hard to get beyond that survival stage without one.
As you develop brand awareness, narrow your consumer focus, align marketing goals with your business plan, and set timelines for those goals, your business finds rhythm. Then, as it becomes more stable, you’ll see a steadier pattern of success develop.
Through it all, don’t lose your entrepreneurial spirit. It’s what got you off the ground to start with. No one who’s started a business will claim it was easy. In fact, they all attribute success to hard work and rising to the innumerable challenges that come their way. As you conquer those challenges, you’ll start to feel the growing pains ease.
Photo credit: Business growth concept from ChristianChan/Shutterstock