It looks as though things are going to be consistently picking up from here – you’ve received a good partnership; you hit a sweet spot in the market; there’s been some positive media coverage…
Perfect! But before you get too excited – there are some very important things you need to consider doing to prepare your business for significant growth at this time. Some things you should consider include:
Your finances need to be flexible enough to accommodate for the growth – you’ll need enough money to cover resources and maybe even to hire and train new team members. You also need to factor in that things don’t always work out the way we plan; what happens if it doesn’t work out how you expect?
If you know your business is set to grow rapidly, you’re in a good position to prepare and organise the resources you will need to accommodate for the growth. A good accountant will be able to give you some pointers and they can help predict the growth through forecasts and other data to help you anticipate what’s ahead.
Also consider adjusting your financial plan early so you can continue to grow or manage your business if there is a downturn. Your accountant will also be able to assist you with this part of your preparation and planning process.
2. Update your business plan
Speaking of updating your financial plan – you also need to review your business and marketing plans to ensure they align with the growth. Some of the topics worth focusing on include:
- Updating marketing aims and objectives.
- Update your financial plan (your accountant may help).
- Revisit operational information.
- Update your business objectives including timelines and targets.
- Also include an exit strategy in the case things don’t go to plan.
As the business landscape changes, this is also a good time to complete a SWOT analysis. This is a simple business planning strategy that gives you a 360 view of where your business is now. List your Strengths (ie. team), Weaknesses (ie. location), Opportunities (ie. partnerships) and Threats (ie. competitors) that your business may encounter now or in the near future.
3. IT Infrastructure and cyber protection
Hire some IT support to help ensure your digital assets are a secure as possible and that there’s enough space to accommodate for the expansion.
Fraudsters and hackers target small business owners because they are vulnerable and needing to turn a profit quickly; during times of growth it’s no different – with lots of things happening, it’s easy to lose concentration and become an even bigger target during periods of growth so try to stay alert to this.
It’s also worth considering all the sensitive data that you hold on your network, computers and devices. Hackers are often seeking specific information such as: client information, customer records, employee data, private information, product designs, banking information, passwords etc.
The other digital risk you may come up against is that your computers, networks and devices can become overloaded due to a fast growth. If this isn’t anticipated early on, it can cause the system to crash – so make sure you back up all your information regularly. Not sure how? Ask your IT person for support with this.
4. Your team
Pick the best people for your team. Keep an eye out for people who share the business’s values and goals. A good fit is great, but you also want to ensure they have the correct skills and qualifications for the role. The idea is to challenge your staff enough to keep them motivated to solve problems – but also ensure you feel they can win and be rewarded. If they’re not challenged enough they will likely get bored and leave.
New staff need to be properly trained in how to use the system and across all Occupational Health and Safety risks – this will help avoid any unnecessary law suits or legal action. Ensure you explore their employment history – you may even be able to get a pre-employment screening service through your insurance provider to verify who you’re hiring.
Training staff can be time consuming and costly, so it’s important to maintain your staff during steep periods of growth. You can do this by ensuring they won’t be overloaded and they’re feeling happy and secure in their role. Having high quality employees means that you can stay focussed on your objective and kick more goals.
5. Meet supply and demand
Before the growth phase begins, try to take a detailed inventory of all stock and supply. Also use this time to ensure all products are stored correctly and that you have inventory protection in case anything is damaged, stolen or lost.
Will your insurer help you if one of your major suppliers goes out of business or has a warehouse fire that impacts the stock? Sometimes insurers will offer alternative profit-replacing products in times like these to ensure your business stays on track.
New equipment may need to be purchased and more employees hired to meet the growth demands. Update your insurance policy before the growth phase to ensure everything is covered if anything is to go wrong with new equipment, stock or any other resource. Your insurance policy should reflect the business as it currently is. When there are changes caused by growth, it’s important to update your policy to reflect the changes.
6. Prepare as much as you can
While you may be excited about the growth and changes ahead, some people find change can be challenging. This means you may also lose some customers as you're gaining new customers. It's unlikely that your finances will go up in a straight incline, even during a high growth period. Not everyone will be happy with a businesses growing, as costs may rise and it could impact them. Remember, you can't please everyone!
If you do what you've always done, you'll only get to where you are now. Change is the one constant.
Focus on understanding the needs and motivations of the majority of your customer base, and work to keep them happy throughout this growth phase. Try to understand how the changes will impact all your customers before you launch; this will help you to answer their questions and appear fully informed. It can help to create your FAQs before the changes are implements and update them as more questions arise.
For professionals that can help prepare your business for growth, search the Search4Accountants directory.