Too much of a good thing can be bad for you. It applies to business growth also, more specifically, rapid business growth. Even good businesses can fall to rapid growth.
Why does it happen?
Growth is addictive. The more you achieve it, the more you crave for it. And there is nothing wrong with this.
After all, it is an affirmation of your idea.
With the can-do, will-do attitude of visionary entrepreneurs, the growth is tick-shaped. The energy, enthusiasm and excitement of early growth will see the business through. Whether the run lasts a month, 6 months or 2 years, an air of invincibility is in the air.
Until the cookie crumbles
Apart from the positive attitude, it is likely the founder(s) have the capacity and capabilities to thrust the business forward. However, the rapid growth will eventually surpass these. They will find themselves in uncharted waters.
The challenges will come from all directions. They grow acute and complex at the same time.
Though the orders keep coming in, cracks will begin to appear. The first to take a hit will be quality; this is followed by cash flow (more money going out faster to meet demand than money coming in), employee morale.
These problems may appear to be transient in nature. Some may attribute it to growing up pains, which they hope will go away. They try to get themselves out of trouble with more sales. Not surprisingly the increased sales only push them further into a corner.
The appetite for more sales disappears. Indigestion has set in. Confidence plunges. Is this a familiar business growth story?
A blurring vision
Somewhere between the start and now, the vision that sparked the energy, enthusiasm and excitement turned hazy. It was probably caused by the blazing sales. In need to fulfil demands, one can quickly lose the forest for the trees.
There is an urgent need to re-visualise the vision. Failing to do will not only retard growth; it could even possibly sound the death knell of the business.
Here comes the sun
A vision is like a big ball of fire. It illuminates, it directs, it is the source of being. But like the sun, we risk taking it for granted – it rises, it sets. It’ll be there as we get on with life only to be missed in the dark, cold winter months.
When the going gets tough, the tough re-captures the vision. The vision needs to burn bright again at work. Beyond just displaying it on the office walls, one has to re-engage with it. The onus is on the business owner/founder to re-ignite the passion for the vision, which answers the question “WHY?”.
Resurrecting the vision will not make the challenges disappear. Instead, the actions following the resurrection will. Before this, the business was reacting to circumstances.
With a clear view of the vision again, every step is a calculated move to realising it, even in times of challenges.
How to build your accelerator growth system
At the risk of over-simplifying this task, here are some tips for SMEs to piece together their accelerator growth engine:
Like all things growing, the business accumulates toxins along the way. From the simple act of clearing the clutter on your desk or the office reception to reviewing how-things-are-done in the business, a detox exercise takes the haziness away.
2. Craft your business’ Dictionary
Every enduring culture has its language. In building a growth system to realise the vision, you are creating a culture of growth. Capture the expressions of your vision in a Dictionary, which describes words and phrases used to accomplish your vision.
3. The leader of the band
An accelerator growth system isn’t a one-man band. It has sections. You can’t be in all the parts at once. Know your core competence, and make time and energy work towards what is best for the business.
4. Design the process and gauges
They are the fundamentals of every system. Contrary to popular thought, they should be built before the business gets big, or too big. Its easier to build when you have fewer things to do to reach the vision. All else that comes after that can be added on to it.
With the technology available today, designing processes and gauges has become much easier.
Most important of all, they make the business scalable.
5. Define the KPIs and plan forward
What gets measured, gets done. Establish milestones that serve as stepping stones to the vision.
Be prepared for the occasional detours to suit prevailing conditions.
6. Put in place a team
Technology is the enabler. By itself, it can’t achieve much. Putting in place a team of people is equally crucial. Ideally, they should be external to the organisation. They will be less obstructed by the everyday demands of the business in their observations and recommendations.
7. Audit the progress
Revenue and profits aren’t sufficient indicators of a vision realised. They form part of the story, and to business owners/entrepreneurs who strive to make a difference in people’s and their lives, there are more to be considered. To this end, audits are critical.
Is it the re-visualise and re-engage your vision?