The ‘SME’ category can actually cover quite a broad spectrum of business sizes, from those with just a few employees at one location to medium sized companies with perhaps 100 staff and a handful of sites. Your business can expand quite a lot while still very much having the needs and qualities that signify an SME.
Of course, business growth is something we aspire to, and work hard for. It is what we base most of our strategies around achieving, and what we set our goals at. However, when it actually arrives, rapid business growth can be quite overwhelming, and can put strains on both your business and yourself if you aren’t prepped for it.
Here are some things that can help you cope and thrive when your SME is in a good growth phase:
1. Consider Outsourcing
When your business is small, you can combine quite a lot of functions and do a lot of the roles yourself. This may seem like a good way to keep costs down, and while you can handle it, it is. However, as the business grows, you may find that trying to do things like manage the admin or accounts yourself is overloading you, or taking your time and talent away from the areas of the business where you are really needed as the CEO.
In many cases, these are functions where there isn’t the demand to justify an in house employee. In this situation, the best solution is to work with a good consultancy that offers the functions you want. This allows you a flexible way to bring in the skills you need on demand and for only as much time as you need them.
2. Look to Scalable IT Solutions
Whatever your business, you are likely to have some reliance on your IT infrastructure. In some cases, for example if you work in the ecommerce sector, your IT may be absolutely mission critical. You may need to bring in new software or infrastructure to manage things as you grow. In doing this, you can make further expansion far easier if you consider scalability in your evaluation. Look for cloud based solutions and software as a service (SaaS) options, which can be easily scaled up for more users. In these kinds of models, cost scales with usage, so it should also be easy to budget for growth in future plans.
3. Formalise Processes
When a business is very small, it can be normal for things to be done on a kind of ad hoc basis. Over time, this tends to grow organically into the basis of the business processes you use. As your business brings in more people, serves more customers and naturally becomes more complex, it can pay to review, streamline and formalise all of your key processes. This not only means you end up doing things in what you have chosen as the right way, rather than a way that evolved from things you did as a far smaller company, but also makes it far easier when you onboard new people to train them.
Business growth is exciting and almost always desirable, but it is important to think about not only your strategy for your current growth phase, but also future scalability. This will allow you to fearlessly try and bring in as much business as you like without crumpling under the demand.