When you grow a plant, you don’t just start watering the soil and hope something happens, you have to plant the seeds first. The same is true when trying to grow a business. You can’t just launch into expansion without preparing yourself first. A lot of businesses make this mistake and when they start to see the growth that they were hoping for, they’re completely unprepared to deal with it. A growing business brings a lot of new challenges with it and if you don’t rise to those challenges, you will fail to capitalize on that growth and you will miss the opportunity. Some businesses may even fail completely because they are not ready for the increased costs that come with business growth and they simply run out of money.
If you’re going to grow your business successfully, you need to plant the seeds first so when growth does happen, your company is equipped to deal with it. Here’s how you can sow the seeds for business growth.
Understand What Growth Means
You might be thinking that you already know what growth means, but do you really? Growth doesn’t just mean increased sales and higher profits, there’s a lot more to it than that. Higher profits might be the end result but there are a lot of other changes that need to be made before you get there. For example, you will have to make changes to your manufacturing and shipping operations so you can deal with increased demand for your products. You will also need to bring new staff members on board to manage the increased workload.
You also need to think about what growth means to you personally. Running a bigger company means that you’ll be working longer hours and you’ll be under a lot more stress. Are you really prepared to deal with that shift in your work-life balance or would you rather continue on as you are? If you don’t think about these things and understand what growth really means before it happens, you may find it difficult.
Look Into Funding Sources
You’re going to need money to fund your growth, so have you thought about where that is going to come from yet? It’s a good idea to start putting some money aside now so you can fund some of that growth yourself. It’s likely that you will need to borrow some money but the more you can reduce borrowing, the better because you’ll save yourself a lot of money on interest payments. If you have huge loans, the repayments are eating into your profits each month and you won’t see the financial benefits of growth for a long time.
The first place you should look is your existing funding sources. If you already have investors in the company, they may be willing to help you fund your growth. But if they’re going to do that, you need to maintain a strong relationship with them in the months before you start trying to grow the business. That means keeping them in the loop about how the business is performing and sending them regular financial reports. If you can’t prove to them that the business is thriving and now is the time for growth, you’re really going to struggle to convince them that they should invest more money.
Hire For The Future
You will need the right team to help run the business during and after a growth period, but a lot of businesses make the mistake of hiring for the company that they are now, not the company that they want to be. There’s a big difference between running a small startup and running a large company and the people that you have working for you now may not have the skills and experience to run a bigger company properly. That’s why you need to hire for the future if you’re ever going to make this work.
Start looking for candidates that have experience working for bigger organizations and during the hiring process, explain to them what your plans for growth are and how you see their potential role in that. If you’re going to land these candidates, you’re going to have to pay a competitive salary, which means you need to secure your funding early.
Move Employees Around
Hiring the right people is one thing, but it’s also important that people are working in the right places. You could have the best employee in the world but if they’re not in a role that suits their skills and experience, they won’t bring much value to the business. Before you start looking into growth, you should move people around and put them in the roles that fit them best. That way, you can focus on long term development and ensure that you’re getting the most out of all of your employees. The best place to start is by conducting employee evaluations. Take a look at everybody’s performance and then try to list all of their skills and experience. This should help you to fit people to the right roles.
Reward Your Employees
If you’re going to be successful, your employees need to work productively, and they’re not going to do that if they’re not being rewarded properly. When the business starts to grow and you bring more employees on board, it gets harder to maintain a close relationship with everybody and some employees may feel that they aren’t really valued. Before you start expanding, you need to make sure that you’re rewarding your loyal employees with a pay increase and vocalizing your praise for them so they understand that, even though the business is going through some changes, they’re still a valued part of the company and you still rely on them. When you do start bringing new employees on board, it’s important that you keep salaries equal between everybody. If a long-standing employee sees lots of new people entering the company and getting paid a lot more than them, that’s really going to kill their motivation.
Improve Your Website
Your website is your main initial contact point with customers and it says a lot about your company. A website that is poorly designed or doesn’t function properly will really put people off, so before you start attempting to expand, you need to take another look at it. Hire a web design company and start coming up with a more professional design that is more typical of a larger, better-established company, rather than the website of a small startup. You also need to consider things like functionality and hosting because if your growth attempts are successful, you’re going to see a lot more traffic on your site. While your website may run smoothly at the moment, is it equipped to deal with a sudden surge in traffic? Chances are, it isn’t and that means that you’ll have a lot of frustrated customers trying to navigate a slow or broken site. It’s best to find a new hosting service that can handle the increased levels of traffic that you hope to see.
Boost Your Customer Service Department
Customer service is the bedrock of all successful business and consumers have high expectations when dealing with a larger company. They expect you to have the capacity to answer any queries quickly and efficiently and if you can’t do that, you will lose a lot of businesses. People are more forgiving of a small startup because they recognize that you don’t have the money to hire that many customer service staff, but they won’t be as understanding once you start to grow. That’s why you need to start boosting your customer service department now so you can deal with the increased workload as sales start to improve. Hire some more customer service staff to take calls and answer emails, and invest in some new customer service software as well.
Chatbots are a great piece of customer service software that allows you to handle a lot of customer queries without having to hire lots of extra employees. Customer service staff often spend a lot of their time answering the same basic questions but a chatbot can answer those questions, leaving your employees to deal with the more complex issues.
You should also invest in a live chat service because it allows employees to deal with more than one query at a time. That reduces the number of staff members that you need to employ and it also means that customers get a faster response.
Look After Existing Customers
When you’re trying to grow the company, you need to break into new markets and attract new customers, but it’s important that you don’t neglect your existing customers. It’s those loyal customers that will keep the business going and fund your plans for expansion, so make sure to look after them properly. You could offer loyalty discounts or maybe even a referral scheme to reward existing customers and attract new ones at the same time.
If you don’t plant these seeds before you start trying to grow your business, you will not be prepared for the increased demand and you won’t be able to maintain growth effectively.