Learn how to manage startup growth through the stages of business growth.

Entrepners must be able to manage startup growth. Many startups find their first few years of operations are perilously difficult. In fact, the majority of businesses will fold in their first year or two because they end up running out of money. On the other hand, there are those rare businesses that experience a runaway growth almost right from the beginning.

This can present a significant challenge to any untested entrepreneur. Running a thriving and successful business can be just as hard as trying to keep a floundering one afloat. In fact, for an inexperienced entrepreneur, it can be considerably more difficult.

The best entrepreneurs are those who remain prepared for any potential situation that might come their way. For the head of a young startup, this means being equally prepared for meteoric growth as they are for a free fall crash.

The following guidance is aimed at any relatively new and inexperienced entrepreneur who is noticing the first signs of their startup taking off into the stratosphere. This can be an overwhelming and difficult time, even for the best-prepared businesspeople.

From the outside, it is easy to assume that any success would have an entrepreneur doing cartwheels around their presumably quite spacious office. In reality, working out how to best handle this growth can be every bit as difficult as working out how to handle an unexpected crash in performance.

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Establish your Core Values and Set Them In Stone

With your business undergoing runaway growth, it is easy for important things to begin to run away from you. Most startups will have a period of years at the beginning of their lives in which they can define themselves and find their identity.

However, if your startup begins to experience an unnaturally high rate of growth almost straight away, you will likely find yourself feeling more inclined to focus on things like marketing and sales.

The natural progression of events for a new startup, barring the kind of growth rate that you are experiencing, is to work out how to best sell your products and services as you go. The core values of most startups are formed from the way that they do business.

In their embryonic state, your core values will determine the way in which you and your team approach potential customers, and the kind of tactics that you encourage and discourage in pursuit of sales.

If you notice that runaway growth is occurring, make sure that you take a step back and give yourself the time and space that you need to establish your core values. Make sure that all the main members of your team are involved in these discussions. Once you have together established what your guiding values and principles are, you can then set them in stone and work out the best way of communicating them to your team and ensuring that they are at the heart of every major decision your business makes.

Make Sure Your Employees Are On Board

When a startup has a reasonable period of time in which to establish themselves and form an identity, it also gives their employees plenty of time to either adjust to the business or to realize that it just isn’t the right fit for them. However, a rapidly growing startup will not have the same opportunity, either for adjustment or for realization.

It is important that you have a frank and honest discussions with your team about exactly what things will be like going forward, what your expectations are, and how they can best live up to them.

This won’t just benefit you and your workers by ensuring that you are well suited to one another before either of you have sunk too much time into the business. It will also ensure that you are able to hit the ground running when it comes to branding and marketing.

A cohesive and united workforce is clearly much better than one that is fragmented and divided amongst itself. The last thing you want is to be presiding over a startup which has fractured into different factions. If some of your team are on board with what you are doing, while there are others who are operating according to a different ethos, the business as a whole will suffer.

Stay Ahead of the Curve

One of the biggest advantages of having the luxury of time as a startup is that you are able to learn as you go, to make mistakes, and to use what you learn from your mistakes to develop more comprehensive policies for the future. Without the advantage of time on your side, you will still need to make plans for the future – and make them as detailed as you can.

If you have a network of contacts, some of whom have experience in managing larger businesses, don’t be afraid to seek their advice. No matter how much preparation you have, and no matter how savvy an entrepreneur you are, nothing can fully substitute for the benefits of time and experience. Therefore, if you are the owner of a startup which experiences runaway growth, you will soon find yourself operating in a territory that you are quite unprepared for.

The great thing about rapid startup growth is that it usually means that you are rapidly gaining access to more funds while taking on relatively little debt. Use some of this money to either hire a dedicated individual to join your company permanently or someone who you can consult with, who has experience with managing a large and established business. They will be able to provide you with invaluable insight about your current position as well as helping you to plan ahead for your next steps.

startup team structure
Source: freepik.com

If you are able to stay ahead of the curve and plan for the future, you are far less likely to get caught off guard and risk stumbling and falling at the worst possible moment. Even if your business is growing rapidly, all it takes is one wrong step to send you tumbling back down.

As well as mapping out your next moves in as much detail as possible, you should also put contingency plans in place to prepare for the unexpected. This is another reason why it is worth your while hiring the services of someone who has prior experience in managing larger businesses. They won’t only be able to help you plan out your strategy; they will also know what steps to take to minimize the level of risk and exposure you face.

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Budget Carefully

When you first start a business, it’s all you can do to bring in enough revenue to cover your expenses. In fact, maintaining a positive cash flow is one of, if not the hardest, challenges that a startup faces. However, as your business grows, it’s essential that you take measures to not only make money but also make the most of your money.

It’s all too easy to overlook these smart financial strategies but doing so might be the reason you’re working harder, not smarter. Some quite smart financial strategies are often overlooked by entrepreneurs who simply don’t have the necessary experience to appreciate their true value.

While the same broad principles apply to manage your business’s budget, regardless of the size or turnover of the business, there are also some key differences between the priorities of a large, rapidly growing business compared to a small startup.

For one thing, you will need to reconsider your approach to marketing. Many of the small-scale guerilla marketing techniques that are so effective for a startup just aren’t going to cut it for a larger business. There will be a multitude of new marketing pathways that open up once you are pulling in some serious profits and you should be looking to take advantage of them.

With a bigger budget, one of the biggest advantages to your business is the ability to take on more staff. This gives you the opportunity to create and fill vital roles which would otherwise remain vacant. With smart hiring decisions, you can both sharpen and refine the existing skills on your team, bringing on board individuals who will be able to direct and manage your existing workers to ensure you are able to get the most out of them.

Naturally, you will want to take full advantage of having a larger budget to play with. But you mustn’t become complacent. A fatal mistake for any profitable business to make is to assume that those profits are eternal and guaranteed. Regardless of the size of a business, shortsighted and poorly informed budgetary decisions represent a serious internal threat to its survival.

Consider Your Operational Structure

For most businesses, their structure will naturally evolve as they grow in size. Often, this process is so gradual and organic that very little conscious thought goes into it. Conversely, a business might find itself floundering and in need of revitalization. In this case, a coherent strategy and objective are needed to direct the nature of the reorganization.

A startup contending with runaway growth will be undergoing these kinds of changes at a much faster pace than many would like, and certainly faster than the average startup does. If your teams begin to grow in a chaotic and haphazard fashion, it will seriously impede the efficiency of your entire business.

While it is only natural that a fast-growing startup will want to bring on new members of staff, a weak or disjointed recruitment process can ultimately end up being a hindrance. Remember, when you are adding new staff to your business you need to look beyond numbers and consider the qualities that will be most valuable to your business.

It is very important that you maintain clarity throughout your organizational structure. There should be no doubt in your, or any of your teams’, minds as to who is in charge of what, and who is responsible for what.

When anyone on your team has an issue that they need to take up with a senior member of staff, it is vital that they don’t need to waste time working out who that member of staff is. The more clarity there is to your operational structure, the less chance there is of issues remaining unsolved or unreported for longer than they should.

Initiate an Efficiency Drive

It is inevitable with a rapidly growing business that you will have to improvise and make some decisions a lot quicker, and with a lot less preparation than is ideal.

It is also quite possible that the plan you devised before first opening your business will have to go out the window. Just because you are selling more products and services and bringing in considerably more money, this does not mean that you are operating with the maximum possible efficiency.

Inefficiencies are harmful to any business, regardless of its size or balance sheet. Reducing and eliminating the sources of these inefficiencies should always be a priority for your business and should also be a consideration whenever you are making important decisions.

For example, your hiring policies and recruitment process may well need to be adjusted when you are at the helm of a rapidly growing startup. But just because you now have more money in your budget doesn’t mean you can afford to be wasteful with it. Consider whether instead of bringing on new staff, you could train up your existing workforce. This could prove to be a cheaper option that still delivers the results you are looking for.

Put Customer Service First

When a startup begins undergoing an unprecedented rate of growth, it is inevitable that there will be some teething problems. Even if you do everything within your power to adapt and to prepare for the dramatic changes that come with a greatly expanded budget, you still have to overcome the very steep learning curve.

Rather than putting an insane amount of pressure on yourself and your team to not make any mistakes, enhance and expand your customer service department so that they will be able to field any complaints or queries more effectively.

You will find that with a decent customer service team in place, your customers will be a lot more forgiving about any mistakes that do occur. As long as you can preserve your reputation and keep as many of your customers on your side as possible, you will be able to get away with the odd mistake here and there.

When you are revamping your customer services department, try to find someone to head it up who has a significant amount of experience and expertise in this area, preferably working with a business much like your own. A common misapprehension amongst startups is that customer service is so easy that it can almost be an afterthought.

For the very early stages of your business, this approach might work. However, for a business that is rapidly growing, and which is only expected to keep growing, a much more professional arrangement is needed.

While every startup hopes of one day joining the big leagues, unprecedented runaway growth in the early days can present massive logistical and operational challenges. In order for a rapidly growing startup to remain afloat, it will need to carefully plan its budgeting and staffing. Keep the above words of advice in mind throughout your growth and you should be fine.

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What did you think of the article and how to manage startup growth? Share your thought here @mmgtweets.

Although web design is Catherine’s formal education, startup success, business management, and business growth are areas Catherine is interested in and occupated with lately. She has been researching and learning for some time now, so she is always happy to share her knowledge by writing some quality content.

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