The challenges of a rapidly growing business (and how to overcome them!)
By Callum Hyland, Office Manager/Consultant at Parbery Consulting
Parbery Consulting is a small business that has been growing quickly over the last 18 months. While this is clearly a positive trend, there are several risks and challenges associated with rapid growth. Businesses must be conscious of operating within their means to better protect themselves, their staff and their clients. The following challenges have been a key part of Parbery’s journey to where it is now.
One key skill a business must maintain from day one is that of prioritisation. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between tasks that are urgent, and tasks that are important. Knowing which direction to invest your limited time, energy and effort can make all the difference for any rapidly growing business.
When milestones, deadlines and deliverables come into the picture, this task becomes infinitely more difficult. At Parbery, we have developed some key questions to keep ourselves grounded, motivated, and focused. These key questions help us prioritise tasks effectively. They include the following:
Is this task required to keep the client happy?
What have we actually promised to deliver?
Will the time and materials we put into this task be a worthwhile investment?
What are the short and long term benefits of this?
Is the workload manageable for our staff and will they maintain a healthy work-life balance?
We consider these important questions for tasks, contracts and projects, aiming to constantly evaluate what our priorities are and why.
Another key challenge associated with rapid growth is determining when to hire additional staff. Do we only hire staff for jobs we have secured – and risk not finding the right staff for the job due to tight time constraints? Or do we hire staff in anticipation of future growth – increasing costs with no guarantee of future work?
We approach this issue by trying to balance the certainty of future workloads with the benefit we would receive from an extra pair of hands. In some cases the answer is clear, and large, secured projects encourage us to hire new staff. In other circumstances however, this decision can be far more difficult. This is where the value of the leadership teams collective judgement and intuition really become apparent.
Administration and Delegation
When a business gains more projects, staff and clientele, this also means more timesheets, finances, information, and relationships to keep track of. It quickly becomes difficult to know when to invest in additional administrative tools, whether it be staff or programs and services to aid the business’s long-term growth. It is also difficult for owners and managers to know which tasks are best delegated, and which are most valuable for them to do personally.
As the Parbery business has continued to grow, as has its focus on improving its administrative capabilities. Keeping programs up to date and staff well-informed has allowed the business to stay organised, structured and coordinated in its activities. Developing strong, internal relationships has also helped Parbery develop a sense of trust and community amongst staff. Knowing one another so well and developing these strong relationships has really helped the Parbery staff understand the team’s strengths and weaknesses, making tough delegation decisions much easier.
Parbery has faced all these issues on the journey to where it is now, and these issues still present themselves frequently. All the benefits of rapid growth have been accompanied by difficulties, but also valuable lessons learnt. We are still continuously adapting and striving to improve our readiness for new challenges. Facing these challenges head on give us admiration and respect for those around us – with whom we work, and those we merely see and hear about – who do the same thing.