In an ideal world, you will start a business with a small team, and gradually get bigger over time. Everyone stay happy, you get to employ new staff as and when you need them, and success in the future is a steady climb. However, in the real world, things are never that simple. Business growth could lead to more success – but it could also destroy your company. Here are a few of the things every startup and small business owner should consider before thinking about growing their business.
Timing is everything
Expansion is a risk, just like any other area of your business. And once you start to grow, it can be incredibly difficult – if not impossible – to revert back to how things used to be. So, it is critical to think carefully about timing. Look at your entire situation, and understand that change frequently comes with a fair amount of turbulence. Is the economy stable enough to support your growth for the next year or so? Are you sure that your recent success isn’t temporary, or seasonal? Do you have the financial backing to provide vital funds to pay for extra raw materials, costs, and employees? Do you even have enough employees, or, at the very least, a plan in place to hire them? As you can see, there is a huge range of reasons why your business might not be ready for expansion, and unless you are incredibly confident, it’s going to be a significant risk.
You will need support
Because of the risk, business expansion can be an incredibly stressful experience. If you think you have worked hard creating your small business, be ready to take things to the next level. There will be a lot of pressure on you – more financial obligations, the need to run more departments or sites, and many other things. But there will also be pressure on your personal relationships, with friends and family., You will need support – and a lot of understanding – if you don’t want to end up feeling like the whole world is working against you. Growing a business can feel overwhelming at times, and unless you can switch off – even just a little – it’s going to affect your ability to make sensible decisions later on in the day.
No business is entirely safe from security vulnerabilities. But at the same time, you and your team need to discuss how to strike a balance between acceptable security risk and reward, especially when undergoing a period of growth. There are a whole bunch of issues that can cause put your company in grave danger. Rapid growth means that you have to hire employees fast, and your hiring processes might take a back seat – will that mean you let in a few bad eggs? Your systems might struggle, too – how scalable are they? Will you need to move your storage solution from Dropbox to something more secure like Mega cloud storage? Will you need to move your server to the cloud to allow for the extra traffic? There are a lot of decisions and risks to take. So, think carefully about how to protect your business interests, but at the same time, highlight areas where the risk will be worth it.
The downside of investment
There is a good chance that you will need to seek out funding to support your business. A bank loan or your savings might cover it, which is OK. But what if you need big bucks and have to approach a private investor? No prudent investor is going to give you a cent without reassurances that you can handle the growth. And they might insist on bringing in their own team to oversee the expansion – and beyond. There will be some tough questions to ask yourself, as you could end up losing a lot of control of your business.
You also have to bear in mind that business expansion brings a lot of change. The happy, friendly, customer-oriented service you provided before might be about to turn into something else – and there will be people that don’t like it. Employees who have been with you from the start might not have the experience to do their jobs in a bigger organization. You might have to spend hours, weeks or even months training new skills to people. And your customers might not like the changes to your service levels. All of these issues – and more – can have a greater impact than you can imagine. So, the big question is – are you really ready to grow your business?