Small businesses work so hard to grow their operations that when they do finally ignite, a lot don’t have a plan in place to handle the growing pains that come with it. It’s a great problem to have but one that can curb a business’s potential if not properly dealt with.
Obviously the best thing to do is plan ahead for growth, to put in place a contingency plan for the upside. Make sure you’re ready and able to pivot your business to meet tastes and quickly scale up resources to meet demand.
But what if growth’s already arrived and you’re so tied up just trying to meet demand that you don’t have time to take a step back and re-jig operations?
“It’s all about cash flow and making sure you spend money on the areas that will help the business adapt to meet that growth,” advises Kochie.
For small businesses, one great way to buy more time and increase the capacity of existing staff is to outsource the most time consuming administrative tasks.
How much difference would an extra 10 or 15 hours of your time each week make to the business?
Try to quantify this by assessing how much extra business could be brought in if that time was spent on sales, marketing and delivering your services.
Then look at the administrative things that chew up 10 or 15 hours each week and get quotes for hourly rates to outsource those functions. Sites like freelancer are a great way to gauge the going hourly rate.
Then, if your time is considerably more valuable spent on core business functions, it’s probably time to outsource the admin.
It’s practical to save up a couple of month’s worth of wages for the outsourcing to avoid it squeezing the budget early on and to give your new capacity a chance to flow through the business.
The beauty of this is that if growth wanes it’s a fairly smooth transition to bring those administrative tasks back in house if you again have the capacity. But with all the extra time you’ll be spending growing the business, hopefully this will never be the case!
But before you go ahead, make sure you spend some time to assess where the business is heading, advises Kochie.
“Of course the customers need to be there to warrant increasing capacity, so doing some market research to ensure the growth you are experiencing is sustainable is very important.”
And through all this it’s crucial to maintain product and service standards.
Stick to the fundamentals that spurred the growth in the first place and keep them in tact at any cost, because once standards slip long term sustainability will be compromised.
All pics: We Heart It