A lot of businesses strive to grow but when growth spurts happen, if you’re not prepared, it often causes pain.

Why?
Lack of preparedness for small business growth is a recipe for failure. It’s a bit like your eyes being bigger than your stomach when you fill a plate at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Careful planning and execution is important.

Some Examples:

  • A web designer offers an online deal of 50% off new websites so that he can show off his talent. His email inbox quickly fills and suddenly he has more work than he can handle. A few weeks later, his email inbox is filled with follow-up requests by people who are tired of waiting for their order to be delivered. He finally delivers everything promised but had to rush to make everything happen so those newly engaged customers had to wait and really didn’t get his best work. Most have such a poor experience that they never bother to use him again.
  • A corporate cleaning service runs a big TV advertising campaign. They invest money in the commercial but don’t anticipate the growth spurt and neglects to hire anyone to help deal with the influx of potential business. Suddenly there’s more business than they can handle so they have to start turning down jobs. By not preparing for growth, the company lost money on both the advertising campaign and lost new business
  • You advertise a special deal for something but don’t bring in enough stock. Or, you bring in too much extra stock and when it doesn’t sell, you have to pay your supplier a restocking fee. You significantly hurt your cash flow.

Growth should be carefully planned, wherever possible. Here are some suggestions to help you grow your business at a rate you can handle.

Do Your Research

Research your target market before running a marketing campaign. Try to get to know your audience so you can anticipate results. Without a functional crystal ball you can’t determine exactly what will happen but research can help you make an educated guess on how to proceed with a marketing campaign. Gather as much business intelligence as you can before running any type of growth campaign and you will be in a better position to manage that growth.

Plan Carefully

If you are offering a discount or special on your offerings, make sure you can meet demand or cap the number of new clients that can accept the offer. Try to plan, in advance, for extra staff to help you meet customer needs, also.

Study the cycles in your business so you can plan and manage growth by doing things methodically. From hiring staff, to managing inventory, new staff, you should have a plan in place and a contingency so you can quickly react if things don’t work out as expected.

Tip: Be available to watch and plan your business growth. Many business owners work in the trenches during growth instead of supervising it, which can lead to things spiraling out of control faster.

Set up Your Infrastructure in Advance

Do you have the right processes and systems in place to be scalable?
Are your systems working only for the business you are doing today?

Upgrading software and processes with scalable solutions before you try to grow is a wiser course of action than waiting until your volume forces a change. Doing this will help you iron out the kinks and prepare for an influx in volume. It’s much easier to deploy new technology when volume is manageable than when you are in a growth cycle!

Caution:

Don’t spend profit before it’s earned. It’s true that you often need to spend money in order to make money but if you overspend in an effort to grow, you could spend your way out of business. Consider sowing seeds from small amounts of growth to fuel bigger growth instead. Don’t spend all profita right away in case the volume jump is temporary and in case it takes longer to hit the next level of success than you’d expected.