“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it.” – Andy Rooney, journalist
Did you think growing your small business was going to be quick and easy? No, you probably didn’t.
Everybody knows that getting a business from one stage to another comes with some significant growing pains that can’t be solved with extensive shin rubbing and wearing your dad’s old woolly socks.
Overcoming growing pains within your business comes down to grit, quick thinking, and preparation. It takes some foresight, some hindsight, and consistent vision. Mistakes happen. It’s all a part of the package – it’s how you approach them that makes all the difference.
8 Small Business Growing Pains
1. Building the Right Team
Even if you prefer having a hold on the reigns, the number one priority of any small business owner should be being able to afford other people helping you. When things start to grow, that should be your number one move.
Building the right team means focusing less on making money for you and more on hiring the right people. But we agree, it’s tricky. You want to know you can depend on the people you bring into your business and that they align with you and your company goals.
Hiring is an understandably trying process for infant-stage businesses because:
1. hiring a recruitment agency is often out of your budget and;
2. interviewing tons of candidates on your own takes a lot of time.
Think long and hard about the people you want beside you on this journey and make those specifications abundantly clear in any job posts you put out there. This doesn’t just apply to hard skills; it applies to soft skills and character/personality traits.
Read this next: 8 Things to Look for in a Business Partner
2. Doing it on Your Own
If you started your journey as a solo-preneur and you like doing things on your own, it’s essential that you find the sweet spot between being in control and relinquishing control when need be.
Doing it on your own can work for a while – it’s normal for small business owners to become a jack of all trades at the beginning stages of their business journey. That being said, it isn’t the normal way to scale your business. Learning how to do it on your own goes hand in hand with learning how to NOT do it all on your own.
Even if you don’t have the financial capacity to hire a team right now, consider using freelancers or personal assistants to help you ease up your day-to-day. You need to be geared towards growth, and that means handing over some responsibility every now and then.
3. Cutting Costs and Saying No
Your budget may have been working just fine for the past year or so, but that’s going to change the moment significant growth kicks in.
As a growing business, you need to create a financially lean environment that reacts to what is happening both internally and externally. For example, if your supplier costs are starting to override your revenue growth, do you have the guts to cut back? Or explore another avenue?
People seem to think that once your business starts growing, you have the cash for everything you need. And yes, while you may be making more money, you’re also putting more money into more products or more employees or more paid advertising.
Learning where and how to cut costs is a huge part of being a successful business owner – and with that, comes saying no.
Saying no is hard, especially when there’s so much pressure to be a Yes Man. You feel like a deflated balloon after you turn something. But what if you reframed the way you think of no? No means sticking to your guns and what is right for your business. You have your vision, and you know what’s going to get you there and what’s not. Focus on the former. Saying no at the right time is an empowering asset. Use it wisely.
Wondering how to get quick and easy capital for your next business move. See how you can with iK Cash Advance here.
4. Finding Your Focus
Your business started with a vision, whether it was a vision for your brand, your impact, or your financial growth. It also would have started with a mission – why you do what you do and how you will get there.
Vision and mission act as two pillars that define your focus, which is often one of the major growing pains of expanding your business. As a business founder or owner, it is your job to make your focus as clear as possible to the entire team – and to reiterate it to yourself each and every day.
You can overcome a lack of focus by taking time out to structure your vision and find a way to distribute it throughout your team. That could be through conducting a weekly stand-up meeting, sending out internal marketing collateral, and even painting your vision across the walls.
Whatever you think is necessary to get your invaluable team on the same page and working towards the same goal.
5. Leaving Marketing Behind
Put your hand up if you’ve ever worked so hard that absolutely nobody but you knows what you’re even working on?
Big mistake. In the hustle of things, marketing can seem like a task for the future. But the future would be a little too late, we’re afraid. One of the serious small business growing pains you’re going to face is getting your name out there, and that’s impossible without some sort of marketing plan.
You don’t want to be playing catch up once your business is up and running, you have customers, and you’re ready to launch, like, yesterday. It may end up feeling like a wet firework. Luckily, the industry is overflowing with fantastic marketing experts ready to take the reigns on your brand messaging and social media rollouts.
Does branding have you feeling a little overwhelmed? Check out our Guide to Branding a Small Business
6. Managing Work/Life Balance
You’ve put your heart and soul into your business so, it’s no surprise that the line between work and play becomes blurred. Especially if you’ve found a business you’re so passionate about that it feels like play every day (if this is the case, you've nailed it).
Another serious small business growing pain is burnout.
You simply cannot fuel your business growth if you’re running on empty. Maintaining a balance is a discipline: you need to prioritise time for family, friends, and personal growth. Schedule it as if you would have an important meeting, and honour that commitment to yourself.
7. Coming to Terms with Growth
Is this the best time for your business to expand? And are you ready for what that entails?
As business owners, the pressure is on to turn your brand into a worldwide phenomenon, and it’s a brilliant goal to have if you know how to scale your business. That being said, maximum expansion isn’t on the cards for everybody, nor should it be. A well-run small business is bound to be far more successful than a massive business that’s riddled with structural issues.
Take some time to figure out what growth means to you and align your decisions accordingly. The more you understand growth in relation to you and your business, the easier it is to create a roadmap to get there.
8. Communication Barriers
Starting out, it was just you and your team of two who needed to have a chat every now and then about what’s cracking. Today, you have a number of employees who need to be in the loop. And that just seems like a logistical nightmare. But it isn’t.
We are incredibly lucky to live in a time where fantastic (free) workflow management and communication tools exist. If communication fails within a business, it’s only a matter of time before major hiccups start to happen – and costly hiccups, at that.
There are plenty of ways to streamline communication with your team. Softwares like Trello and Asana help you to keep an eye on who’s working on what. Google Drive is also a great way to collaborate on documents and store all your important files.
We actually have an article on the best workflow management tools, you can read that here.
Growing pains are a good thing. They indicate your business is expanding the way you always knew it would. Take them in your stride, learn the lessons that they bring and always remember there are ways to overcome them.
If you're thinking of growing your business with iKhokha, check out how you can get started here.
All the best on your small business journey. We would love to hear about it! Follow us on social media and let us know.