Editor's Note: College Treps is a weekly column that puts the spotlight on college and graduate school-based entrepreneurs, as they tackle the tough task of starting up and going to school. Follow their daily struggles and this column on Twitter with the hashtag #CollegeTreps.
If you’re like me, you may want everything -- a successful startup and all the trappings that come with it -- to happen overnight. But that passion may drown out your perception of reality.
With the right people and processes in place, rapid growth will come, but it’s important to not force things. Every startup has its own unique situations that either facilitate or hamper quick expansion. Still, here are four general tips I’ve learned about when, how and where to grow:
1. Plan all the way to the end.
An idea without a plan will forever remain exactly that: an idea. It’s imperative to put pen to paper and map out both a short -- and long-term plan for your startup, setting concrete and feasible milestones along the way.
But don't panic if you can't immediately meet all of the goals you originally set for your business. It’s also OK to revise them along the way. Just remember, keep your end goal in sight, and, the more milestones you cross off your list, the sooner you'll be able to expand.
2. Know your customer.
As your business grows, will you be able to continue to provide quality customer service? Will an expanded version of your business be able to attend to your current customer needs with the same attention and detail as the new ones? Many companies lose touch with their loyal customer base as they expand. It’s important to calculate how much attention your customers need from you and if you will be able to maintain and improve on that level of satisfaction upon your company’s growth.
3. Hire the right people.
Expanding your team is one of the first steps toward expanding your startup. As you look for talented additions to your team, keep in mind that you'll need to delegate to grow. As such, you'll need a team of people who are either more or equally as competent as yourself to oversee certain aspects of your business. Trusting is paramount, and trying to do everything yourself can lead both your expansion plan and your business down the wrong path.
4. Have a little faith.
Don’t give up on your goals. Even the best laid plans can reveal cracks that may need fixing along the way. The biggest mistake is to give up when faced with a problem. Identify the problem, fix the problem and don’t give up. Remember: Progress is a slow process.
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The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
Eric Muli is a senior at Babson College majoring in Economics and Marketing. As a Kenyan entrepreneur, Muli has developed a strong passion for community development and impact investing and participates in a variety of community uplifting projects in both Kenya and the United States. He is currently the president of Africa's first rating and review platform, Zabamba. He is hoping to launch a similar platform for college students in the United States.