According to American Express Open’s Small Business Monitor, 32 percent of entrepreneurs are making growth a top priority and are largely abandoning a “wait-and-see approach” to business. While all business owners dream about steady growth, too fast too soon can derail your plans without a strategy in place. Here are some of the stages to consider during your business’s growth from little fish to serious contender.
The relatively new but popular business methodology, lean start-up, aims to dive into experimenting with everything from advertising to sales over meticulous planning. Small and struggling business owners may embrace the lean philosophy as a means to fail fast or succeed quickly. They often skip the big offices and fancy gadgets and favor working from home or a small office space to figure out if their business is working. Lean businesses want to move fast so they can either turn a profit or close it down and move onto a different idea.
Instead of slaving over business plans and presenting to investors, lean start-ups often use customer development to test ideas and get out in the field immediately for feedback on everything from pricing to acquisition strategies. Going lean can also reduce overhead and the need to invest in office space, equipment and staff until they get feedback from the field.
Moving from Home to Office Space
A business may look to moving into a professional office space once it secure clients, has a track record for success, and gains some confidence and momentum. A growing business will need to make room for an expanding support staff and equipment. Business owners may go the traditional commercial lease route, or get creative and opt for co-working space.
ShareDesk allows businesses to book thousands of work and meeting spaces in cities around the world. Rent a cubicle, desk or entire office by the hour, day or month. This situation can offer an interim space for growing businesses who need more space but aren’t ready to make the leap to a full-time lease. And if your business entails out-of-town business meetings, you can find meeting room space for roughly $10 an hour with access to presentation equipment and professional communal spaces.
Honoring Your Customers’ Privacy
Malware, viruses and cyber attacks are now the normal business news from Target’s hack all the way to J.P. Morgan’s security compromise. Whether you’re a micro-company or rapidly growing, you owe it to your customers to protect privacy and online security. A data breach could compromise your customers’ social security numbers, bank account numbers or even health information.
Unfortunately small businesses can’t do much to prevent a breach, but you can monitor and get help before it spirals. Using a company like LifeLock can help monitor data points, scan for threats, help restore your identity and financial reputation and track your credit score.
Managing your Employees
As your company grows, so will your staff. But that doesn’t mean you need to go out and hire a team at the first sign of success. Consider hand-picking a virtual staff to help with bookkeeping, customer service, project management and administrative tasks first. Virtual staffing agencies like Virtual Staff Finder can help identify candidates that match your needs and even help with the interviewing process.
At some point you will probably need some in-house staff. You may find managing employees in the office all day to prove an overwhelming task. Overloading your staff with details, meetings and tedious admin tasks can lead to cognitive overload and diminish concentration. Give your team enough structure to stay organized on the task at hand, but give them freedom to do their jobs and eliminate needless paperwork and bureaucracy.