The opinions expressed by the shareholders of the entrepreneurs are their own.
The allure of business growth is strong, and for many entrepreneurs, this is a dream from the start. In fact, many professionals see expansion as a key indicator of success. But scaling your organization inevitably comes with growing pains. From managing a larger team to dealing with complex market dynamics, there are countless hard-to-avoid hurdles along the way.
Growing pains are a necessary part of the process, and by being proactive and aware, you can anticipate these challenges before they arise and think of creative ways to overcome them. This process begins with recognizing the need for operational transformation.
Related: Is Your Company In Growing Pains? Here’s how to thrive through it
Your communication skills and other skills you need will change
When you first start a business, it is easy to communicate and implement because your team is on the doorstep. You can spot errors quickly. But when it starts to grow, all of a sudden, everything spreads. Marketing, support, development and sales can be in completely different parts of the building or even a separate building entirely. Suddenly, it’s hard to get a clear picture of what’s really going on inside your organization.
As this shift takes place, it becomes imperative to collect data from all aspects of your business. Otherwise, you will not have a comprehensive understanding of your day-to-day business operations and what your employees may need from you. But it’s not just about the data; You also need specific processes in place that hold everyone accountable and provide clear direction.
Adjusting to these new ways of communicating and working can be uncomfortable. Not everyone will be able to keep up, and you may have some people who just don’t stay with you. that’s ok. But your job as a leader is to help shape the company’s overall attitude and to enable your team to understand that these adjustments are essential to success.
Part of this maturity is being able to discern if you need to bring in new skill sets to meet business goals. There has to be a willingness to evaluate what you’ve been doing, to admit that these methods are no longer working and to explore possible ways to evolve – and you have to do that quickly.
Be prepared to take some hats off
Small business leaders are often multi-professionals. You are used to answering all phone calls and responding to customers’ emails because the success of your business in the beginning depends only on you. One of the hallmarks of entrepreneurship is wearing a lot of hats to make something work.
The game changes when the expansion begins. There comes a point where you can’t logistically handle everything on your own. At this point, you need to decide if you can hire an insider to take on a role or if you need to hire talent from the outside.
Remember, not everyone with you is necessarily ready to lead or grow. Even if you can promote someone from within, they may still need some guidance and support as they take on new responsibilities. On the other hand, outsourcing comes with a different set of challenges – you have to trust that they will be able to do the job well and communicate with the rest of the team. One of the biggest growing pains you will have to deal with is moving into the mindset of needing to hire other people and believing that your business will not collapse if you hand over responsibilities.
Related: 5 Tips for Expanding Your Small Business (The Right Way)
Closed-loop learning and development never stops
Most growing companies understand the importance of moving quickly to stay on top of innovative technology that can help them stay ahead of the competition. This was certainly the case at Vagaro, where we not only had to look at what the competitors were doing and what options were actually available, but we also had to develop our own software. We are still constantly researching and adjusting for improvement.
But the same R&D concept applies to all of your products. To create something different and unique, you have to constantly look at what’s available. First off, you don’t have a marketing team to do that. You have to rely on yourself to identify and develop a product that will differentiate your business from others.
Once your company starts to gain traction and increase your sales, now you need a sales department. You start to need people who can provide customer support. Hiring people gets more difficult because you have to set clear expectations and teach them how to do things the way you’ve been doing them.
There’s a real need to balance your expectations and your training with a good dose of humility – you have to accept that you don’t know everything and remember that you bring in new people because they have new ideas and skills. This is one of the reasons I intentionally choose to let my team manage what they can themselves and allow them some room to experiment and sometimes fail. I know I need to share what I’ve experienced and be clear about the costs I’m willing to incur so they can make some mistakes.
This growing pain of always having to search, adjust and hire is never ending. But that’s part of what makes growing a company so exciting. You will always have a new problem to solve, and the achievements and improvements from the healthy pressure to find answers and solutions keep you motivated.
Related: How to Meet the Five Challenges Every Expanding Business Faces
Many professionals who talk about growing a business focus on all the good things that happen, and it’s inspiring. But the best entrepreneurs know there will also be some discomfort along the way. Instead of shying away from their growing pain, they realistically anticipate it and work proactively to handle it well, such as seeking advice from mentors or building strong feedback infrastructures. Find the same kind of perseverance and willingness in your own business, because while upset you will learn to thrive rather than survive.