Inevitably there are growing pains associated with a new company start up; and I look back with pride at how well I navigated through those early years. Determined not to become one of the 80% of businesses that fail within twelve months of opening their doors (or any year since for that matter), I’ve worked hard to build a solid base from which the business can grow.
Now here I am, preparing the business for an exciting new phase in its history and the growing pains are back. I’m not sure they ever left to be honest. Experience has taught me that growth requires more processes, controls and people to manage them; not the primary reason most go into business.
Despite not being the most patient of individuals, I’ve deliberately approached this in a measured way; having learned from working for two high-growth companies in my earlier career. Both of them out-performed their competition for a while but neither could sustain it unfortunately. In each case they were undone by ‘too much growth too quickly’ which created financial, quality and reputational risks that were never properly managed.
Keeping tabs on all of these factors can be overwhelming and I’ve found it useful to adopt a two-fold approach to minimising that feeling:
The first is to build a business infrastructure with one eye on the future; so that it meets current needs and yet is easily scalable as the business grows.
The second is to manage your focus so that after each growth spurt you can take your foot off the accelerator and allow company processes, controls, and your people to catch up.
Of course, with growth comes change and some of a business’s systems and procedures, as well as some of its employees, will at some point need to be upgraded. As CEO or MD you must include yourself in that analysis; I’ve worked with a few who have re-evaluated their role and their value to the organisation, on the back of a successful period of growth.
Recognise the need to continually adapt and learn to stay prepared for change. This will give you the best possible chance of sustaining the business growth you achieve; whilst minimising the risks associated with it.
This week’s link is For CEOs & MDs who will recognise the importance of staying relevant to their business.