10 expensive surprises your business will face as you grow

When you’re growing a business, it can be really difficult to keep your costs under control as your sales grow. Your new success could even give you a false sense of security, making big investments seem more workable than they really are. Here is a checklist of things you don’t want to do:

  1. Over-promising – a customer wants large order, really quickly. To keep the order, you agree to do the impossible.

  2. Under-delivering – when you can’t fulfil the large order really quickly, the customer becomes unhappy.

  3. Quality dropping – you were rushing, cut a few corners, now, surprise surprise, the work is not quite up to scratch.

  4. Late paying – Let down and disappointed, the customer holds on to payment while arguing quality.

  5. Slow supplying – your new payments and work burden is passed down the supply chain and, suddenly, suppliers who have never let you down before, do now.

  6. Slow learning – hiring more staff to meet the demand initially seems like a good idea, but then output falls as your existing people train the new staff up.

  7. Space cramping – you have more staff, more equipment, more products. Your workspace starts to feel a little cramped.

  8. Systems struggling – those basic systems (that paper-based account book, for example, that worked well when you were just starting) are suddenly straining under the pressure of more people and higher turnovers.

  9. Time disappearing – with so much to do you can’t find a spare moment to take a breath.

  10. Partner panicking – you’re stressing out and, instead of going home for some peace, your partner has picked up on your stress and asks you a million, worried questions.

Top tips to get through a potentially difficult growth stage:

  • Schedule – scheduling your work enables you to allocate time and resources and to plan when you need to do things. This also makes it easier for you to tell customers when their job is scheduled so that they know when you expect to deliver. Which leads nicely onto…

  • Communicate – good communication helps you build a reputation for being honest, reliable and realistic. If a delay is expected, let the customer know. If you can complete the order more quickly than anticipated, let the customer know. You can’t be angry if you are kept fully informed. Think about how you could communicate more effectively.

  • Evaluate – review each job you do. Did you complete it within budget? Did you complete it on time? Did you record the time it took? You need to look at what you have already done to be able to effectively plan for what you will do. Try to create a culture of continuous improvements.