5 Stages of Business Longevity: Investing in Business Growth
Even if you’ve heard the term “growing pains” before, every business owner knows the stress that can come from not being prepared to enter the next phase of growth. But what are your options? In our Business Longevity series we examine strategies you can use to remove obstacles to growth from your path.
Your business growth depends on having the proper staff to perform the tasks necessary to deliver on your promise to your customers. At various phases this means different things:
- New businesses might need logistical or administrative help to get started. Often this means hiring more junior level employees at more moderate hourly or salary ranges in order to manage the budgets that come along with this phase of growth.
- Once businesses mature, this logistical support continues to be important, but hiring or growing talent into mid-level positions is also typically helpful. Depending on the type of business you have, this could mean customer support staff, greater operational support (such as billing support or human resources) or even more mid-level experts in their field to perform tasks (in construction, think about the difference between an apprentice or a journeyman).
- As businesses enter a more expansive level of growth, it is perhaps time to think about more senior level staffing to share the load of management or leadership. These individuals can help to evaluate or activate on new business opportunities without ownership always having to be in the room. So while their salaries may initially be a bit difficult to think about budgeting for, these are the individuals that should be helping to forward business goals on your behalf as well.
Businesses can be held back by not modernizing, or evolving, fast enough. Examples of where this is evident include:
- Our equipment is old: This could be the wrong earth mover, computers, or mobile devices for your employees in the field. When employees don’t have the right tools, they’re not set up to meet – or exceed – the goals you’ve set for them.
- Too much of our process depends on manually inputting information: Are you still punching timecards, filling out invoices manually, or faxing contracts? It’s time to consider an upgrade. With the click of a button, digital tools can shave time off your process and improve employee outcomes, and efficiency. Consider a time keeping or project management system, bookkeeping software, or digital signature tools. The ease of use has increased and there are now options to meet various budgets.
Certain processes – or strategies around operations or staffing – may work in one phase but not all. As you think about growth, think about your “pain points” and what would help you to solve them. Are those obstacles around efficiency? Perhaps introduce an additional manager. Are they around cultural issues? Maybe it’s time to think about employee recognition programs or an all-team outing. Or maybe they’re around awareness – it could be time to spread the word more broadly with prospective customers through advertising.
Whatever the pain points might be, honestly evaluating them is the place to start. Once you have that list identified, there are (sometimes tough) decisions to make about the kind of business you are and how well you feel you are living up to that promise for customers. It may mean making staffing changes or updating how you operate, but it will lead you to a way of functioning that aligns more closely with your vision.
Once you’ve done the hard work of streamlining your business and maximizing it for growth, it’s time to audit where additional money can be saved in order to increase revenues. While some of the strategies above require an initial investment, they often pay for themselves exponentially in the long run.