Growth and start up rates of small and medium businesses have returned to their pre-recession levels (pre-2008) according to recent research by the Enterprise Research Centre.
According to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, 40 per cent of small businesses have increased turnover in the last year and 73 per cent are planning to grow over the next two-to-three years.
If your business is not ready to deal with the increased demands of growth, it could fall within the 50 per cent of UK startups that fail within the first five years.
As CEO and co-founder of Halebury, which has seen its turnover and staff double in size over the last two years, here are some thoughts on how to deal with the rapid growth of your business, what can get you there, and how to sustain it.
Set your intention, be clear on it and then apply laser focus. There are so many potential distractions and when running a small business with limited resources this can cost you two of your most precious commodities – time and money.
Our new law firm Halebury successfully broke the traditional mould of law firms when we launched in 2007 and grew steadily. It was when we reduced our intentions down to a one page business plan, that we saw Halebury really grow rapidly. It gave us a clear path and stopped us taking on projects and people that would not serve our core objectives. Get like Superman and adopt laser focus.
(2) Relationships are key
As a business owner, it may feel natural to take on any and all jobs yourself, but to grow rapidly you need to assess where you need support and bring in a team with the right skills.
Great leaders surround themselves with a great team and it is worth the investment in senior skills. Why not hire an experienced person on an interim basis? Our team of external in-house lawyers often go in as interim resource for companies without an in-house legal team and help to organise their legal documents, processes and risk management. They leave the new strategies and processes in place and remain on hand as external consultants to the business when complex issues arise.
We use this model for services into our business too for everything from finance and IT, to marketing.
(3) Make the most of technology
You are definitely missing a trick if you do not take full advantage of technological advances. Now, more than ever before, with cloud technologies and more accessible software and hardware, you can find an IT solution to help streamline your processes, harness your data and make your team more efficient.
With fast growth, not only will you have to deal with a bigger sales and delivery process but you will have a lot more data to capture, analyse and capitalise on.
Social media is also an incredibly effective tool to connect with customers, get your voice heard and achieve fast recognition in a market. Managing a broadening range of technology can seem daunting. Ensure you work with experienced IT and legal professionals to help you integrate your IT effectively and manage the risks.
(4) Fail quickly
You will make mistakes along the way. Identify, rectify and learn from them, then move on. There is not a successful business out there that hasn’t made mistakes but those who survive are those who learn the lessons and refocus.
(5) Cash is king
Ensure you have enough cash flow or access to funds to support your growth. With growth comes additional spend and it will not necessarily produce immediate returns on turnover – there will be a time lag and some “wasted” costs as you work things out.
Running out of cash would cause your downfall, so ensure you have a great relationship with your bank, your investors, and your family to keep you going during the growth spurt.
(6) Don’t get complacent
Keep innovating and creating. Growth isn’t just about the numbers; it’s about expanding your reach and performance whilst staying true to your purpose. Remember why you started on this journey and keep that spirit in mind to help you improve your products and services continually.
(7) Enjoy the journey
Successful people are driven to the next goal, but the journey is often more fun than the destination. So take the time to look after your own wellbeing, as well as your team’s, during this time of hard work and perseverance.
Never forget to stop, breathe and congratulate yourself along the way. As Oprah Winfrey said, “What I know is, is that if you do work that you love, and the work fulfils you, the rest will come.”
Denise Nurse is CEO and co-founder of Halebury.
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