Successfully Orchestrate the Expansion of a Growing Company
This article is included in Entrepreneur Voices on Growth Hacking, a new book containing insights from more than 20 contributors, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders.
To grow means to change -- a thrilling yet daunting process for a business owner to witness at a company. If you're in a position of leadership, your team will look to you for explanations, solutions and systems when things start to pick up and transitions take place.
Whether you anticipate steady growth or rapid expansion, follow these steps to circumvent common mistakes and maximize your firm's success.
1. Prepare your team.
Working for a growing company is something your team should be proud of and excited by. Unfortunately, the opposite emotions can arise when an unexpected increase in new orders or clients catches staff off guard.
A good salesperson establishes realistic expectations for his or her customers. So why wouldn’t you do the same for your employees?
Whether your team consists of three, 30 or 300 employees, gather them all together monthly for a company-wide update if geographically possible. I love using these types of meetings as an opportunity to talk about the future and what everyone can expect.
Your message should address the abundant opportunities that will accompany growth, while not glossing over the challenges. Let members of the team know to anticipate some changes and bumps in the road and that everyone will need to contribute.
A team unprepared emotionally for the challenges of growth can be a huge distraction from an administrative standpoint. Keeping staffers informed about the strategic direction is a powerful deterrent to this type of roadblock.
2. Explain the reasons for expansion.
For most entrepreneurially minded individuals, the reasons for growth are obvious. This may not be the case for every member of your team. It’s critical to inform members of your team about the inherent benefits of a company pursuing an upward trend.
Growing the business ultimately means more job security for the right people. Chances are you’ll be adding team members to keep pace and certainly won’t let go of a productive employee who’s a cultural fit.
The larger the organization, the less vulnerable it is to competitors or a single customer's departure.
Every growing organization needs leaders to spearhead the expansion, creating exhilarating opportunities for the right people. Promoting from within as much as possible will prompt engagement and higher performance from your team.
3. Don't overthink timing.
Occasionally, I meet entrepreneurs who are shy about flipping the switch to pursue growth, fearing their company’s systems are not ready for prime time. They want to ensure they’ve worked out every kink.
What I have found is that there’s never a perfect time to strike. I’d rather err on the side of taking action today. If everything else is in place, there’s nothing like an influx of new work to force your team to improve.
4. Develop duplicable practices and systems.
Focus on how your company will manage the growth. Start putting a plan in place now to make sure each department can scale up in size to meet the anticipated expansion.
Take steps to prepare the team for the addition of new members, deciding who will train them and lead them, how work will be allocated and the equipment or software to purchase.
5. Consider the culture.
Amid the chaos of rapid growth, it’s easy to take your eye off the ball when it comes to culture. You shouldn’t. Culture needs to be part of an ever-present initiative.
Think you have a great one now? See what happens if you double your team’s size with no regard to the impact. I promise you, the culture will erode. My colleague at N2 Publishing, CEO Duane Hixon, is the first to say that defining the company's culture and educating new team members about expectations is a #1 priority -- a task that has no end point.
6. Develop an onboarding strategy.
Culture is the glue that keeps a team together during challenging times. So set and adjust the tone early and often in an employee’s career. If you educate new team members about company expectations -- with a plan in place to train them, they will turn into productivity pluses even sooner.
7. Put a leadership team in place.
The larger an organization becomes, the more leaders you’ll need. Identify people with the aptitude, attitude and aspirations for leadership early in their careers so you can begin coaching them today for the roles you’ll need filled tomorrow.