Your business is rapidly growing—congratulations! Of course, this doesn’t mean that your challenges are over or your ride will be smooth from here on out. As you grow, so does the immediate need to adapt to new obstacles both inside and outside your company. So, while you celebrate your successes, don’t get complacent. Businesses that aren’t able to adapt to growth risk failing, whether or not they have a proven concept.
If you’re just starting out, this doesn’t mean you have to worry over the state of your company. My goal is to help you recognize and address the growing pains you can expect as your company expands, especially past your first 100 customers. So, as you enjoy your current success, prepare yourself for the road ahead by being aware of these five growing pains, as well as how to solve them.
You’ll Face Tough Staffing Decisions
One of the realities of a growing business is making tough staffing decisions. Someone who’s been with you since the beginning may not be able to grow and adapt their role to continue with you. You may need to develop new authority structures and add management candidates where there were none before. Maybe you need to delegate, or perhaps reduce or change your own role in the business.
Say goodbye to the ad-hoc days of your staffing decisions and get ready for a new way of running your business. Your new strategy needs to revolve around strategically planning for the next phase of your business, and your decisions may step on some toes. It takes courage to make the tough staffing decisions needed in a growing company.
You’ll Face Pricing Challenges
Pricing is not a one-time process that’s set in stone. If you’ve treated it that way so far, it’s time to revisit the issue. Not only will a growing client base require you to optimize your pricing structure, you’ll also need to start focusing on developing new options and product lines and determine how to price them as well.
In making these decisions, make sure you know the cost of acquisition and the lifetime financial value of every lead and customer. By optimizing both your pricing strategy and your marketing conversions regularly, you’ll be able to sustain and continue your growth over time.
You’ll Need to Adopt More Formal Planning Strategies
In the lead-up to having 100 customers, you may have been using ad-hoc planning; things like informal brainstorming sessions and group collaboration to make even the most major decisions. As your business continues to scale, however, you’ll need to be more structured with your planning process and decision-making.
It’s important to decide early on who should be involved in decisions at specific levels. At this time, you may also be taking on investors who will need a seat at the table for important decisions as well. By adopting a more formal planning strategy, you’ll be able to meet everyone’s needs while still controlling the decision-making process as the leader of the company.
You’ll Need to Be Very Aware of Your Burn Rate
As you grow, you’ll be in a position to accept investment from outside sources if you need it. Consequently, you’ll also be faced with dozens and dozens of ways to spend that money—and quickly.
Your burn rate needs to stay healthy. It will be up to you to develop a budgeting strategy, or to hire people who can handle this for you. In the best case, you can delegate major financial decisions to your CFO. That way, your emotions are removed from the decision, and you can count on them to enforce the discipline that will keep your company going strong for many years. At the very least, keep accurate records in your accounting software (such as QuickBooks) so you’ll be up to date on all fronts.
You’ll Need to Guard Against Burnout
You and your co-founders have probably been working nonstop for months—maybe even years. Your growth may seem like an endorsement of that work ethic, and in a way it is. However, you need to protect yourself and your fellow leaders against burnout as well. This may not seem like the ideal time to take a break, but the big secret is there will never be a good time.
Instead, choose to prioritize your own health and wellness and that of your staff to prevent burnout. You’ll end up with a much more sustainable workload and business model, which will give you the energy to keep going well past 100 customers.
No company founder wants to crash and burn at the first sign of success. But folding in proactive growing pain solutions and readying your company for action can mean the difference between surviving and thriving. Set yourself up for success and position yourself to run a sustainable business. In this case, “sustainable” means building a business that can help you conquer the struggles of growing to 1,000 customers and beyond.
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