Is Your Business Growing Too Fast?
Most businesses that survive the start-up stage are ready to grow – and there is plenty of room to grow. Companies just beginning to grow have almost no market share, which makes attaining big percentage increases in revenue growth relatively easy to achieve.
Everything in a young business revolves around one thing – sales. The company says yes to almost every opportunity and makes big promises. No job is too tough, no request too unreasonable, no customization impossible, and no deadline too unrealistic. This responsiveness and flexibility allows early growth companies to compete and win against much larger and more established companies.
Fueled by their initial success, fast growing companies think they can succeed at almost anything that comes their way. And they often do. They don’t see problems, only opportunities.
The sales efforts get all the attention, at the expense of everything else. Early growth companies have an insatiable appetite for cash, sales, and results. There is nothing abnormal about sales being the driving force in a young company – it should be. Sales revenue is the lifeblood of a growing organization because it provides the fuel for rapid growth.
Complexity Creeps In
But problems in a business are an unavoidable consequence of growth. As a business grows, it immediately becomes more complex. And the bigger a business becomes, the more complex it inevitably will be.
Without realizing it, the simple business becomes a very different business.
As the complexity of the business grows, the problems begin to pile up. Each new sale seems to make things worse. More balls are dropped. More mistakes are made. More fires are being fought. More customers are unhappy. More profits are lost. Whatever way it appears, more and more things are going wrong.
Because of the rise in complexity, the business has reached the point where continuing to do more of the same is no longer working. The issue of course is that a young business doesn’t have many systems or processes. Everything is improvised, and that improvisation only works up to a certain point.
Slow Down – Temporarily
You must take your foot off of the accelerator long enough to allow the rest of the business to catch up. The lack of structure, systems, and processes will slowly kill your fast-growing business, making it increasingly inefficient and unproductive.
It’s simply not possible to gain control and maintain breakneck speed. Failing to slow down ensures your business is in for a series of train wrecks. As complexity rises, your company will desperately need some systems and processes to control the chaos that will eventually overwhelm you, your business, and your team. The whole purpose of systems and processes is to allow a business to effectively deal with complexity.
The proper kinds of systems and processes, introduced in the right amount, at the right time, actually help the organization grow faster. Companies that resist the need to make these changes will slowly be engulfed by chaos.
As a business gets bigger and more complex, the days of ad hoc processes and informal controls must end. Adding systems and processes to the organization does not mean eliminating flexibility and adaptability. It means a more disciplined, systematic, and process-based approach to getting things done, one that matches the scale and scope of a grown-up organization.
Once you’ve introduced the right kinds of systems and processes, put your foot back on the accelerator and fly down the road.
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