Small business owners must be ready to adapt to various situations, particularly when business is growing at a steady rate. Owners may struggle to keep up with demand, but that’s not the only challenge during a growth period. They could also be dealing with:
- Demands of a growing workforce;
- More diverse customer needs;
- Business intelligence requirements;
- Keeping the supply chain running;
- New competitors;
- New compliance responsibility;
- Keeping the business culture intact.
The growth stage of a business can differ greatly from starting a small business. Instead of focusing on customers and outside sources, you may need to start looking inward at processes to streamline production. It’s important to understand how to handle growth because upgrading your small business can be overwhelming.
Know the Cause of Growth
Before you implement new processes or hire more employees, you must pinpoint what causes business growth in the first place. It may be an aspect like customer service, or a certain product that is unique to the market. No matter the cause, it’s important to keep this in the forefront as you grow so you do not lose sight of what made your business successful.
To determine the cause of growth, you can implement reporting and analytics software solutions to address your business’s unique needs. The data provided by analytics can help you find trends that lead to more informed decisions and improved operations. For instance, you can monitor:
- Work orders;
- Marketing campaigns;
By monitoring these specific facets of your business, you can find the cause of growth and determine how to adapt it to other aspects of the company or capitalize on it through marketing.
Prioritize the Customer Experience
The customer experience has always been a priority for small businesses and is especially important for growing businesses. Your customers may already expect a higher level of support, and if that were to diminish because your focus was elsewhere, it could cause you to lose customers. According to various studies, there is value to enhancing the customer experience:
- Companies with a customer experience mindset drive revenue 4-8% higher than the rest of their industries.
- Companies that lead in customer experience outperform laggards by nearly 80%.
- 84% of companies that work to improve their customer experience report an increase in their revenue.
- 96% of customers say customer service is important in their choice of loyalty to a brand.
There are many ways to measure your customer’s experience, including:
- Open communication;
- Using a voice-of-the-customer system;
- Interpreting customer actions.
Additionally, asking for reviews, whether good or bad, can help you determine which part of your business needs improvement. Although it is customary to avoid bad online reviews, it is equally important to take the time to gather feedback from all reviews to help grow your business and improve your customer experience.
Hire Great Employees
Hiring productive and innovative employees can help you harmonize different parts of your growing business in several ways. They may provide different points of view on various operations that may be instrumental in growing your company. Additionally, having employees you trust to handle tasks can help you focus on other parts of the business.
To hire great employees, you must first attract them to your company. You can do this by demonstrating a pleasant work culture, offering appealing benefits and perks, or using modern technology. Then, you can practice retaining employees better by providing career development, increasing their compensation, or improving your company culture. Finally, you must make sure your employees are happy to boost their performance. For instance, you can use employee recognition to help them feel valued and appreciated.
Automate Recurring Tasks
Recurring tasks can take up a lot of employee time — time that could be better spent looking at big-picture tasks. If your team is spending time on menial tasks, it could create inefficiencies in your business. A few examples of recurring tasks include:
- Responding to emails or sending updates;
- Shipping and inventory management;
- Analytics and website tracking;
- Posting to social media.
The use of business review software can enable you to be more conscious of, and responsive to, your customers’ needs and expectations. Many firms use customer relationship management software to automatically send emails or update a customer’s profile within the business. Additionally, businesses can take advantage of scheduling software to book appointments. For instance, using cleaning scheduling software could allow clients of a cleaning service to book appointments that will automatically populate for back-end convenience. Combining this with a route manager app would allow the dispatcher to keep track of fleet vehicles, ensure appointments are kept, and even get more customers booked by developing more efficient routes with less travel time between gigs.
Another example of using software to automate tasks is a social media management dashboard. This dashboard lets you write messages that can be posted later automatically. This can help keep customers apprised of your schedule, discounts, or any other important business messages in real-time, without having to constantly update your social profiles manually.
Find a Mentor
If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed with your growing business, it can be beneficial to seek a mentor that has already experienced this situation. Although it may be hard to ask for help, it can be extremely beneficial to seek out mentorship. Some benefits include:
- Gaining practical advice, encouragement, and support;
- Learning from others’ previous experiences;
- Becoming more empowered to make decisions;
- Seeing things from another point of view;
- Achieving career goals.
To spark a conversation, here are some common questions you can ask your mentor:
- Tell me about a recent business setback. How did you recover?
- Which leadership skills were the most difficult to develop?
- Think back to five years ago. Did you envision your career as it is today?
- Do you have any quick tips for re-energizing an overworked team?
- What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned and how has it proven invaluable?
Ideally, these questions will help get the ball rolling and inspire new questions, thoughts, and comments for you and your mentor.
Prepare to Adapt
The business world is ever-changing, no matter what industry you’re in. Adapting to different scenarios, strategies, and technologies can help approach your business growth strategically. For instance, assume you receive customer feedback that your shipments are taking too long. You may need to pivot and start using inventory management software to better understand which products you have in stock. Or, you may need to change your shipping methods to meet customer needs. Either way, being able to learn and adapt to new business operations will help your business ease through growing pains.
Business owners face a new set of challenges when their company starts to grow. By implementing the best practices above, you can navigate these changes efficiently so you can ensure your business is successful.