If you’re reading this and thinking, “Yes, I’m there right now!” then first of all, congratulations. Your business is thriving and in this economy that is a testament to your vision, your drive, and your team. Well done.
However, you might also feel less celebratory right now, because your growth has reached a point where you feel the control and insight into your business is slipping through your fingers like water.
Here are a few tips that will help you get ahead of your business’s growth:
- Be honest. This is probably the most important step and the best place to start. Be honest with yourself that your business has outgrown what used to work when you were a startup or a smaller SME. If you’ve lost sight of your business’s day-to-day operations, the staff issues, the stock and production queries, and your bottom line, then be brave and own it. Many people have stood in your shoes and bounced back, and you can too.
- Recognise your own limitations. Yes, you are the founder and visionary of this business and it has risen to this state of success on your back. However, at this point in your business, you cannot be the only wellspring of productivity or experience. Invest in yourself, and your business, by meeting with a reputable business coach for a fresh set of eyes on your business processes in order to increase your business’s capacity.
- Invest in people. When you start a business, it is often difficult to hire an expensive, well-experienced, weighty management team. This might be the right time to start. Invest in your senior management team by hiring the right people, even if they come with a higher price tag. Their experience and expertise in managing people, as well as steadying the ship in this growth phase, will help you tremendously as they shoulder some of the burden of leadership in their departments.
- Outsource. This point is not a new idea in South Africa, but servers as a good reminder. If your part-time bookkeeper is not up to the task of running full financial reports and handling your VAT and Tax payments, but you cannot justify the salary spend of a full-time CA, then investigate outsourcing for your financial management requirements – you get CFO expertise at a portion of the cost. The same goes for marketing management, as well as any other secondary but vital function that you and your team don’t have capacity to get to.
- Upgrade your systems. Immediately. If you have several applications to handle the various functions of your business – such as warehouse management tool, time tracking app, accounting software – and these don’t communicate with each other, then this is a tower of cards waiting to collapse. If you’re still using paper, or a spreadsheet to quote, or manage stock, or write reports, then I guarantee you that you have very little clarity into your business, and even less control of what’s going on. More than that, you are using valuable time for admin tasks that can be automated with ease, and for an affordable price. South African ERP systems offer SMEs what international systems offer big corporates, but for a fraction of the price. Only a robust system that communicates with itself can carry the weight of your growth, and provide you with the data you need to steer the ship with care and confidence.
- Goal-set through. Be careful of this one; it is an easy trap to reach your goals, and then fail to create a new one in the process. This can often lead to depression and lack of motivation. If growing your business to a certain annual turnover or production rate was your only goal, then take the time to goal-set through. What will you aim for once you have reached your goal? And once that goal is reached, what is your next goal? Human beings are teleological – we need a goal, or purpose, a reason in order to thrive. Keep on giving yourself – and your team – a reason to grow, and communicate it regularly.