Are you prepared for sudden business growth? After the year many businesses have experienced it might sound like a silly question. However, I believe things will get better and for many organizations business will explode. Do you think I’m overoptimistic? Ask yourself the same question after the upcoming holiday season.
I was fortunate to be mentored by a wise businessperson who, among many other things, taught me that business is always a problem—there’s not enough, or there’s too much. He preferred the latter. But sudden business growth can be a headache.
Sudden Business Growth Isn’t Always Sudden
Several years ago, a company I worked with was doing business at a record-setting pace. It was nothing new for the business. They’d been growing by leaps and bounds for several years. Suddenly, almost without warning, they landed three of the most significant contracts in their thirty-year history.
Meeting the Challenges of Sudden Business Growth
Ramp up the hiring process
If you know it’s coming, prepare by hiring additional staff before you need them. The oragnization held a job fair 30 days before a large contact was to begin. We interviewed more than 70 applicants and hired 20.
Don’t stop training
When business is going crazy, training may be more critical than at any other time. Years ago, as operations manager at another organization, I had a service crew blow the engine on their company truck due to lack of maintenance. When I asked how they could let that happen, they said they were too busy to stop. My point is whether it’s vehicle maintenance or training, shortcutting can lead to bigger issues.
Don’t stop doing what got you the work
Trading quality for quantity isn’t a good plan. Don’t curb internal or external communications, and don’t shortcut or sidestep systems.
Plan for growth
Along with staffing and training considerations, take time to consider what tools, equipment, and supplies you’ll need.
Take care of all your customers
Here’s what the President of the business said in a company newsletter. “We want to serve our loyal customers as they deserve to be treated. Because long-standing partners need to know we’re here to help them as well.”
Share your goals
Let your entire team from top to bottom know your goals for the project. Break goals into achievable segments. Track progress and celebrate milestones. Let everyone know what to do, how to do it, and why.
Give credit where it’s due
Your team may be working harder, smarter, and longer. Show them your appreciation by recognizing their contributions. Sometimes just telling someone, “Great job on the ABC contract,” can make their day.
Scaling isn’t about how much you weigh
Scaling means altering systems to fit the needs of the current state of the business. For example, Former General Motors CEO Ed Whitacre slashed redundant paperwork at GM to increase production. Adobe VP of HR Donna Morris eliminated duplicate performance reports, and Twitter banned cell phones from all meetings. Where can your business scale?
Know that good enough may not be good enough
If you have tools, systems, or personnel to just get by—getting by may not be enough to tackle sudden business growth. Empower your team to suggest procedural improvements. Ask them what interferes with their production and what tools they need to improve. Train personnel who aren’t meeting standards and hold them accountable to performance.
Will You be Ready for the Challenge?
I hope your company is prepared to land a huge contract. Planning ahead might save your sanity and keep your business from imploding because the elephant in the room is that many businesses that were unprepared for significant growth didn’t survive the surge. Are you prepared?
How Can I Help You?
I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me.
Does your business have a management training plan? Many organizations, large and small, use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. Check it out.