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Handling Sudden Growth Spurts

Growth is the top priority of any business. Successful ones are always on the lookout for ways to be better, more efficient and effective at what they do. Thus they can grow their customer base and bolster the strength of their organization. But too much of it too quickly can be overwhelming for small businesses that haven’t factored such sudden developments into their game plans. Unprepared startups might squander the opportunity such an event provides, or overcompensate and end up hanging when trends go the other way. So for those facing sudden growth spurts, or preparing ahead of time, here’s some advice for managing such situations:

Adopt Iceberg Thinking

This means viewing unexpected events as if they indicate trends, like how the sight of an iceberg implies an even greater mass beneath the water’s surface. With Iceberg Thinking, businesses can see where things are headed in advance and move to capitalize them or reduce risk (maybe even both) early on – beating competitors to the punch.

Knowing that “Too Much of Something is Bad Enough”

Just like the Spice Girls song. A mishandled sudden growth spurt can be as dangerous as growing too slowly or no growth at all. While an enterprise won’t have to worry about minimum revenue requirements, there’s the potential of mounting overheads. Meeting a larger demand can lead to reduced customer service and product quality. Staff retention could drop due to overwork, communication breakdowns and the difficulties of suddenly having to manage more people.

Pacing Growth

Research shows that the key to long-term success is a balanced rate of organizational growth. Each organization has unique circumstances, their own mix of attributes, context and situations. Their pace of operations must factor this in, so they can leverage that growth to evolve in the ways they need to while meeting crucial short-term requirements.

Understanding Growth

To properly manage the growth spurt, it is crucial to know why it is happening in the first place. Growth means you’re doing something right, so why is this happening right now? Have you been doing something different? Either you innovated effectively, established a solid edge over competitors, or a combination of the two. With sudden growth, expansions, and general hustle and bustle coming with it, it can be easy to lose sight of what makes you unique – and what drove the growth in the first place. So assess your sales, assets, inventory, marketing strategy, and the state of the market around you to understand the reason behind everything.

Prepare an Organic Growth Strategy

With this information, you can prioritize that driving quality in your business model and optimize the direction you take for your business. And you can better gauge future growth so you can manage it better moving forward and minimize the risk of surprises. Is the growth rate sustainable? If you know why, then if it’s temporary you can “ride it out” and maximize the benefits before things return to normal. But if you act as if that growth was permanent when it isn’t, you might overstretch your operations. By knowing the reason for your growth and your internal resources, you can then focus on cash requirements, marketing, distribution channels and control the costs and debt. In short, measure your needs more carefully.

Staffing Solutions

On that note, with rapid growth comes increased needs – including staffing. But if the spurt is temporary then a business should resist the urge of hiring more permanent employees just because that’s what you’re “supposed to do.” This will increase your overhead in the long run and prove costly if the growth peters down. These circumstances are when Virtual Assistants truly shine as they are flexible and adaptable, able to meet the increasing demands, but more affordable than permanent employees. There are also freelancers or temporary workers, which might also fit the situation.

A Benefit… With a Fair Share of Challenges

From a certain perspective business growth is always beneficial, but if it happens at such a rapid pace the environment will be volatile afterwards. So businesses that handle it without care might focus on the wrong things at the wrong time, jeopardizing all that they have built. A sudden growth spurt can be an opportunity, you can either miss your shot or come prepared to harness it for what it is truly worth.   -John Li

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