How to Thrive During an Overwhelming Business Growth Spurt

Business growth spurts can be chaotic and overwhelming, but proactive planning and seeking experienced guidance can help businesses navigate and prepare for them.

learn more about Adi Vaxman

By Adi Vaxman • Jan 1, 2023 Originally published Jan 1, 2023

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Change is a constant and fundamental aspect of the business world and our lives. It is something that happens continuously all around us, whether we notice it or not. How businesses, at every level of development, react to change is often what determines whether or not they are able to survive and grow.

Like children, businesses have different needs at different stages of their development. During times of rapid growth, business owners may find themselves overwhelmed, as parents often feel during a child's growth spurt. A business growth spurt, although exciting, can be chaotic and unpredictable, much like a baby's or a toddler's. Research shows that 40-50% of startup founders end up leaving their own companies due to the challenges of managing growth.

Related: How to Keep Pace With a Fast-Growing Business

What makes growth spurts so tricky to navigate?

While a business may be successful, its infrastructure is not necessarily set up to support rapid growth. Growth in sales, revenues, clients, leads, user acquisition or demand may put a strain on a business's management, financial, organizational, technical or human infrastructure. A strain that if not handled right or in time, can cause a business to choke.

For example, we often see companies invest series dollars in an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) version of a technology product by outsourcing it to inexpensive offshore development shops. Then comes the growth: Suddenly, that product they invested so much in and built a user base or a client base off of, is collapsing because it has not been developed to scale. This becomes one very costly mistake — not only do they now have to invest in developing it all over again, but they also must continue to maintain that MVP on crutches and band-aids while developing a more robust solution. It's expensive, time-consuming and risky, not to mention wasteful.

Strains in scaling can cause delays, disruption and dysfunction, all of which may lead to clients walking away and lasting reputational harm.

Many business owners find it difficult to imagine the challenges that success may bring. How could success possibly be bad? Well, in most cases, small business owners simply lack the experience or knowledge to manage a scaling process appropriately, often resulting in one of these three common behaviors:

  1. They recognize the need for experienced help when it's too late and damage has already been done.

  2. They identify the need for help but hire the wrong help.

  3. They bring on appropriate help but fail to implement the necessary and often painful changes.

In my experience, most businesses seek help when it is too late and some damage has already been done; they are in trouble, are drowning and are in crisis mode. In fact, only about 1% of our clients act proactively, planning ahead for growth and preventing the problem from occurring, compared to the 99% who are simply reacting and seek help when the problem had already gotten out of hand and needs to be fixed. The most common reason is financial: Business owners are hesitant to set aside a significant amount of money to address a problem they don't yet have. In other cases, they may simply believe that they'll be able to handle the growth on their own. The problem is, that at that point when we come in to help them, we have to continue flying the plane while fixing the burning engine — only exacerbating the challenge the business is experiencing.

If a global health crisis has taught us anything, it's that embracing change and proactively planning its implementation is crucial to surviving. By being proactive, businesses can be better equipped to handle the unpredictable twists and turns of the business world.

So, how can business owners prevent and better handle the challenges they inevitably face when experiencing growth?

Related: How to Handle a Sudden Growth Spurt in Your Business

1. Invest in leadership experts with relevant experience

According to a CBInsights analysis, a significant portion of businesses fail due to not having the right team. Fortunately, companies today have access to solutions such as fractional leadership, which allows them to bring on experienced and knowledgeable executives to support their growth at a manageable cost. These industry experts can help businesses navigate challenges associated with rapid growth without the trial-and-error often associated with leadership in growing businesses.

2. Take advantage of advancements in the business landscape

The rise of remote work has opened up new possibilities for businesses looking to bring on top talent. According to Global Workplace Analytics, a majority of the workforce (56%) is now able to work from home at least part-time. This remote work revolution provides businesses with the opportunity to access a wider pool of professionals with specialized industry expertise. By embracing remote work, businesses can ensure that they are not compromising on quality or experience when it comes to managing their growth, but rather leveraging the best-suited help for their needs.

Related: Bust Through Painful Growth Spurts by Readying Your Business Now

3. Leverage modern technology to simplify and streamline your operation

Modern technology has made it easier for businesses to support and manage their growth. Today, businesses have access to a wide range of tools that can help them operate more efficiently. Tools such as CRM, Analytics, HRIS, Project Management, Time Tracking, Billing and ecommerce are available and accessible. By leveraging such tools, businesses can streamline their internal processes and free up valuable time and resources to focus on driving growth. In fact, according to Monday.com, 54% of employees believe that automation could help them save at least five hours a week by eliminating the need to complete mundane tasks.

By utilizing these strategies, businesses can not only survive but thrive in the face of change, so don't let rapid growth overwhelm your business. Take control, and make it a success! Growing a business is never easy, but with proactive planning and a commitment to investing in your company's future, the process can be rewarding and even enjoyable.

Adi Vaxman

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Founder & CEO, Sheba Consulting

Adi Vaxman is the founder and CEO of Sheba Consulting, a Fractional Leadership practice. She is an experienced leader with over 30 years of experience growing organizations and managing change. Adi holds 2 BSc degrees from the Hebrew University, as well as an MBA and Ph.D. from Cornell University.

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