How many times have you missed the perfect opportunity because you waited too long? Don’t miss out on the benefits of growth because of a lack of action. A good plan is only as strong as its implementation. Here, you will find the tools to help you move forward confidently with your business’s growth.
After you’ve settled on the approach you want to take, take the time to outline the methods and resources that will help you reach your goals. You can choose from diverse industry experts, technology, and learning approaches to understand your market.
Here, this article will take you through:
- The technology used in scaling businesses
- When it’s time to upgrade your software
- How to handle growing pains
- And which experts to call on and when
What technology helps with growth and scaling?
Imagine trying to keep track of inventory with a notebook or logging support tickets with sticky notes. This method might be okay if you only work with five customers, but these options leave no room for growth.
The technology you choose for growth and scaling depends on your business\s needs. If you are selling material goods, consider what technology you need to track inventory in orders. If you work as a software provider, look for a CRM that tracks your clients, which version of your software they have, and their open support tickets. Make a list of which of your processes are not currently scalable, and then find software for that need.
The more your data interacts, the more insights you’ll receive. Consider finding a solution with add-on functionality for uses that you expect you’ll need in the future. Here are some examples of technology that helps you grow and scale your business.
- CRMs — A CRM, or customer relationship management program, keeps track of your perspective and existing clients. A good CRM does not come in shape, but when you consider its long-term benefits and the time saved, the investment pays off. Many CRM such as Salesforce and Hubspot let you integrate your marketing team to work closely with insights from sales.
- Email automation — How many of the same kinds of emails do you send out a day? Templates may work on a small scale, but when you’re sending out tens or hundreds of emails at a time, it doesn’t make sense to perform an identical task manually. Email automation lets you consider your contacts’ specific needs while sending information faster. Speed improves the overall customer experience.
- Reporting software — As your business grows, you will generate more and more data that is indispensable to your future projects. This data can help you evaluate how much time it takes to close a sale, the overall cost to acquire a new customer, and what your most and least efficient processes are. Look for visual interfaces and sharable reports.
- Human resources software — As your team grows, you’ll need better human resource management tools. Human resource management software can help you visualize benefits, hiring, and training for your team.
- Document management software — It’s not uncommon for small teams to have documents that live on one employee’s computer. This method seemingly works until they change departments, experience tech issues, or train somebody new. Spend some time researching document management systems that can grow with your team’s needs and includes cloud storage, so documents don’t get lost or accidentally deleted.
How to tell when you need to upgrade software
Most businesses have time to plan for changing software needs. However, there are a few signs that can help you prioritize when to replace a current system. If you find that you’re experiencing the following issues, it’s time to take a look at upgrading your software.
It’s time to upgrade your software when:
- There are frequent mistakes in your data
- Your team grew significantly
- Your customer satisfaction is dropping
- You need to increase leads for sales
- It’s taking more time to complete your processes than it had before
- You’re finding it challenging to complete all the tasks needed to run your business
Challenges to adding software
Once you have divided upon software to improve your operations, ensure no significant barriers prevent its success. Who will be using this software, and what is their technical knowledge? Questions like these will help you avoid unnecessary struggles when implementing new software.
Budgeting restrictions are one the most common challenges that small companies face when adding new software. Ultimately, it comes down to what problem the software solves and how much it costs to live with that problem versus addressing it.
Budget problems often result from communication errors where benefits aren’t conveyed. Thankfully, this problem has a simple fix. Break down the cost of your current situation, including details like acquisition costs, hourly staffing costs, customers lost because of the issue, and how the numbers would change with your new software. You can also present another approach as a comparison and show why this solution is your company’s best option.
How to address growth and scaling problems
The owner of a company can only do so much to grow and scale the business alone. The company is a team and will work only when it functions like one. Issues rarely come out of their intentions. More often than not, there’s another factor at play, like lack of training or not understanding the purpose of a task. Here are some situations that businesses can experience with growth and scaling.
1. Your team isn’t using the technology
The best technology available can’t help if your team won’t use it. The first step to finding out why your team isn’t using the software is to talk with them. Make sure to approach the topic in a nonconfrontational way. Otherwise, you will not get honest. Remember that you’re looking for a solution, not for blame.
Ask your employees if they understand how to use this software or if there’s a more efficient approach that they already use. If they know the software and don’t have a more efficient method, they may not understand the purpose behind the change. Be open to answering their questions and involving them in your planning. They hold insights that can help you find a better way of reaching your end goal.
2. Your team isn’t invested
Your team is the most significant determining factor in your company’s success. So what are you do if they don’t want to help? This is a matter of your company’s culture. Do you have a clear mission statement that lets your employees understand their purpose? If it’s not clear, make sure you know the mission statement and that your words align with your actions.
Ask yourself how your managers handle change. If something deviates from the expected outcome, do they learn or reprimand their team for the failure? If learning and growth are not encouraged with verbal and non-verbal responses, your culture resists growth. A business or management consultant can develop a plan to change cultural barriers to success.
3. Your customers’ needs changed
Ultimately, your business exists to provide your customers with something they need. So what happens if they don’t need your “something” anymore? This is where you can look at alternative strategies for growth and find a new way to remain in the market. First, look at why your customers’ needs changed.
Take, for example, a company that matches people for house sharing. In normal times, booming cities with higher rent would depend on services like these. However, during a pandemic, people are much less inclined to live with a stranger. One way of navigating this kind of shift is to see what new needs your market has. Then, you can see how to re-organize your resources and provide them. For instance, you can change your service to match people with food and medicine with those who need it. You can use challenges like these to evaluate your old approach’s strengths and weaknesses and adjust accordingly.
4. Your plan is not performing as expected
Experiencing failure is part of life. Inevitably, some parts of your plan will not have been exactly as you imagined. First, look at your data. Where does it deviate from expectations? Think creatively to think of reasons why your metrics may have changed. Are your sales dropping? Take a look at the market. See what options customers choose instead, like a competitor who offers a solution at a lower cost. Don’t be afraid to survey your team and your clients to get more information.
5. An unexpected event changes the market
Even with our best planning, events happen that change our priorities. For example, natural disasters and changes to industry regulations signal the need to readjust your priorities. In this case, proceed calmly and invest in a plan. Revise your deadlines, take inventory of your resources, and give yourself credit for responding calmly in the face of an unforeseen challenge.
Which experts can help with growth and scaling?
Expert guidance can save you time and resources when you create your growth plan. Most companies no longer rely on a full-time staff member for advice. Instead, they bring in consultants and advisors to advise on a part-time basis.
You can call on the help of a consultant or advisor when:
- You’re developing a plan for growth
- You have a plan and are ready to implement it
- Your current strategy isn’t performing as expected
- You found a new opportunity you want to take
While there are a few drawbacks to soliciting advice, a basic understanding of problems that similar businesses’ problems can help you avoid complications. A fractional chief operating officer, for example, works with various companies in your field and diagnoses issues before they cause problems. These issues can include processes that lack oversight, underperforming software, or a lack of training for your staff. Results, not ego, should drive your fractional COO. Ask how they measure performance before making your choice.
A fractional chief marketing officer works specifically with your marketing and sales teams to unify your messaging and aggressively drive sales. Suppose your product is ready for market and you want to guarantee its success. In that case, fractional CMOs bring invaluable experience to your team. Look for someone to audit your current process, provide feedback, and design an approach that can grow with your company.
The way that your company uses its resources when planning for growth and scaling ultimately determines its success. Your technology, team, and planning have to work together harmoniously for your business’s success. Flexible business owners that pivot instead of panic will ultimately come out on top. Good planning and guidance will help you get there.
No matter what happens during your growth and scaling process, remember that any progress is a step in the right direction. Many businesses hesitate before taking action, which makes them vulnerable to a host of new dilemmas. So, no matter what comes your way, keep putting one foot in front of the other and learn every step of the way. Remember to check back for resources with more tips that will help you set up your business for success.