Just as starting the growth journey required getting in the right mindset, maintaining that growth needs a long-term vision and clearly articulated values to help keep you on track and guide you towards your future. A business growing continuously and sustainably is more likely to withstand the ups and downs that life throws at you.
But you are not going to get there if your time is spent reacting to problems and micro-managing; on-going growth requires a management team that you can trust and delegate to.
Understand your role in your bigger business
Your role running a company with several sites spread all over the place and a staff of dozens is very different to your role back when you had one store and a handful of people in the team. Sustaining growth requires you to focus more on strategy and management, while delegating the execution of tasks to other members of staff and spending less time on the shop floor.
Think about the tasks that take up your time, and how important they are to meeting your end goal. For example, things like meeting with investors or developing strategic partnerships with other businesses can only be done effectively by you. But the responsibility of day-to-day operations can often, and should be passed on to your team.
Delegating the running of the business can be a big step for many small business founders, but it’s essential if you are to free up time to focus on growth. If there are certain tasks you don’t feel comfortable delegating, look hard at why that might be. Does the relevant member of your team need some additional training? Does your senior team have the leadership skills necessary to manage their reports? Would a department benefit from bringing in a consultant?
Make sure everyone knows your ‘why’
Back in Module 01 we looked at how understanding your business’s purpose was an essential first step to get you in the mindset for growth. To keep that growth going for the long term, it’s important that everyone in the company fully understands the mission and values.
Your mission statement shouldn't just be something staff read when they’re hired and then forget about; make it prominent in the workspace, refer to it regularly in meetings, and demonstrate to your team how those values dictate everything you do. When everyone is on board and pulling in the same direction, delegating responsibilities to your team should be stress-free.
Don’t just think about the ‘now’
When faced with making a decision to do with your business – say, choosing a premises for a new site, or a provider to manage your payroll – consider what will be best for your business further down the road. Could the service provider or manufacturer you’re looking at still handle your account if it doubles in size in three years’ time? Are the candidates that you’re considering for a role likely to be in it for the long haul and progress with the company?
If your business is on track to keep growing in the coming years, make decisions now that will work for the long term as well as the short term. Growing a business throws up some unexpected challenges, so you’ll be thankful you took time to make sustainable choices.
Formalise processes and bring in the experts
As your company grows, the “boring but necessary” elements of running a business, such as tax liabilities or compliance issues, become more complex. However ignoring these legally regulated issues now can cause problems for your business down the line.
Consultants with relevant legal and financial expertise can help you understand your obligations and what you need to do to adhere to different regulations. Writing out a code of conduct document for staff might seem an unnecessary task when you have a small team of committed people, but it could safeguard you against grievances in future.
When it comes to finances, you may decide it’s worth recruiting a finance director or CFO, even on a part-time basis, who can take charge of everything from pay roll and invoicing to pricing products and deciphering weekly numbers to let you know quickly where money is being made and lost.
Invest in consultants with experience of your industry or who come recommended from businesses similar to yours, rather than seeking advice from a friend who happens to be a solicitor or accountant.
Formalised processes for things not regulated by law – say, paying invoices or handling complaints – can also save your business time and hassle in the long run. Implement systems that can be scaled as your business grows, to help streamline these tasks when you no longer have the time to manage them personally.