Ask experts what they rate as one of the top qualities of a successful small business, and they’ll no doubt answer agility. So, here are some top tips to help you remain agile, especially during growth periods.
Take technology seriously
Time waits for no man – or woman – and the same is true of technology. Sure, technology is advancing at an extreme pace, but you can hardly expect your staff to offer their best and deliver brilliant sales results – regardless of whether you’re selling a service or product – with ageing technology. It is vital that you regularly assess your technology to ensure you’re using the most suitable solution on the market. This encompasses the speed of your internet connection as well as the mobile devices with which your staff is operating.
Mind your cash flow
It is easy to get ahead of yourself when you’re experiencing a growth spurt and landing lots of new customers, but it is critical that your reign yourself in, in anticipation of those rainy days. Cash flow issues arise when trying to balance your upfront expenses with delayed payments. For instance, if you land a big project which comes with lots of upfront costs that can’t be invoiced until after the project is completed, and to top it off, your client operates on 90-day terms. How do you ensure you have enough cash on hand to fund the project until payment is received? What’s the bottom line? Diligently track your cash flow to ensure you don’t spend more than you’re invoicing and can better navigate the ups and downs that come with cyclical growth periods.
Don’t let your ego cloud your judgement
While it is human nature to jockey for a lead position in the managerial hierarchy such ego-driven manoeuvres can be highly detrimental to a growing business. One way to overcome this hindrance is to put your ego aside and implement role shifts that will ensure everyone within your team plays to their strengths.
Stagger staff expansion
A common mistake that growing businesses make is to just keep adding more employees. The problem with this approach is that your product development, marketing, and sales are unlikely to be in sync with your expanding staff complement. You can’t fix everything with more employees. You could also end up with the wrong people if you insist on growing your headcount too fast, putting your company culture, productivity, and work quality at risk at the same time. A smarter approach is to scale your team expansion in a sustainable and controllable manner.
Control your spending
It is certainly tempting to borrow money when you’re doing well but if possible, resist the urge to incur unnecessary debt. One way to bolster your resolve and stay nimble during rapid growth spurts is to focus on sales and operations while also ensuring you have the budget to boost your R&D division and fund continuous innovative.
Communication is key
Clear communication is key to success. It is also imperative your employees understand that while you always appreciate their enthusiasm and quick thinking, they must check in with management before finalising any decision, particularly those related to spending. It can help to install accessible, real-time tools like Slack, Confluence or Jira which are designed to strengthen communication.
Quality tools equal quality work
As with your technology solutions, you can’t expect your employees to perform at their peak if you don’t supply them with the best available tools for the job. These include quoting and invoicing systems, booking systems, document storage and sharing apps – like, Dropbox Business or Google docs – or website chatbots that work to reduce the volume of calls that your staff must handle. The secret is in streamlining your processes, so you and your employees can more productively interact with partners, colleagues, vendors, customers, and even your accountant.
Cultivate your culture
What is it that your company stands for? And is your staff aware of the answer to this question? It is easy to lose sight of your culture, particularly when everyone is focussed on growth, but it is crucial that you make culture a priority as you scale. Consistently communicating your business ethos and attitudes to new hires – and periodically reminding your existing staff contingent, possibly through team building exercises – will ensure everyone is on the same page regarding the core values. Regularly emphasizing your culture can also help determine if applicants are going to fit in with your company. It can also help realistically assess new business opportunities in terms of the direction the opportunity will take you in and if whether the additional workload will put your employees under too much pressure.
Maintaining thorough and accurate financial records during periods of growth is a must. Keeping your business accounts up to date and drawing up a cash flow forecast to which you can refer as you progress can ensure you don’t succumb to complacency or veer from your path to realising your short- and long-term goals. Being prepared will also put you in a better position to calculate the foreseeable resources that a new project may demand, so you know upfront if you’ll be able to handle the proposed opportunity and budget accordingly.
Automate your admin
Managing employees is potentially one of the trickiest aspects of running a small business. The good news is there are several multi-functional workforce management systems – like Deputy – which are explicitly designed to enable SMEs to optimise rosters, calculate wage costings, record employee attendance, and even harness facial recognition technology for clock-in and clock-out functions. Such an automated administrative tool can free up your precious time to focus on those aspects of your business that will result in expansion and bring in more revenue.
Running your own business is rewarding, but also demands lots of time and energy. SMART Business Solutions is with you every step of the way. We are invested in your success and here to help you develop a roadmap that will secure your financial future. Contact us today to book an appointment.
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