We often hear successful entrepreneurs tell stories about the importance of being able to recover from failures. While it is essential to have the ability to learn from, integrate and grow past a failure or setback, it is equally important to know how to cope with the increasing pressures of growth and how to prepare for the impending success of a business. Will you be ready if that serendipitous alchemy of hard work and divine intervention suddenly sends demand for your products or services soaring?
While you’ve dreamed of this moment, the reality of it can still come as quite a shock. It’s a good idea to have strategies in place to get you to the cusp of greatness and beyond, and also to help you to cope with changes to your business—and your life—once you get there.
How you define success is just one factor that will enable you be prepared for it as it stealthily sneaks up on you. Set clear milestones that define your good to great success markers. When you know what success looks like for you, the challenges that come with growth won’t catch you off guard or take you by surprise.
Recognize What Growth Looks Like For Your Company
Dreams are a good thing. In a very practical sense you must be able to visualize what you are working towards as a business and believe in your vision in order to actualize.
JK Harris of JK Harris and Company advises that growth is not just about financials; growth may also mean rethinking production methods, operational protocols, facilities and staffing. Having a clear vision—which includes specifically defining your goals and determining how you will recognize each growth milestone as you meet it—will allow you to keep the focus on long-term aspirations, while knowing that you are prepared to meet all of the shorter-term goals and challenges you’ll meet along the way.
In order to facilitate your long-term vision, Henry Hsu of Nerdwallet advises that you set short and medium-term goals. Short-term objectives are 1 year to 18-month accomplishments and medium-term objectives are 2 to 5-year milestones which support your long-term vision.
For example, if you have a product issue like jars breaking or leaking during shipping, a short-term goal might be to revamp your packaging or look into alternate shipping methods to correct the problem. Maybe you’d like to implement a new marketing platform to automate certain tasks so that your marketing team is freed up to devote their time to building and maintaining relationships customers.
A medium-term goal is essentially about putting policies in place to ensure that short-term issues do not recur. In order to further address the leaking and broken packaging, a medium-term might be to institute stricter and more specific quality control policies.
Sticking to your guns about implementing attainable short and medium-term goals can steadily move you towards the realization of long-term goals, like growing your business from a 1-million dollar business to a 5-million dollar business.
Have a Mentor
In the words of legendary motivational speaker Zig Zigler, “A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.”
A good business coach can offer some much needed perspective when things get overwhelming. When business began to boom for Luc Stang, CEO of Gin-Cor Industries, he took the step of working with a mentor from coaching firm CEO Coaching International (CEOCI). The guidance of a mentor helped him to “… put in perspective the steps necessary to take Gin-Cor from a good organization to a great one, while scaling up exponentially.”
CEOCI reports that CEOs and entrepreneurs who chose to work with one of their business coaches have experienced an average CAGR in revenue of up to 40% during their coaching period.
Source: CEO Coaching International
Even Steve Jobs had an “adult supervisor” in his mentor, former Intel CEO Mike Markkula. Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google had Sun Microsystems’ Eric Schmidt. When aspiring to grow your 1-million dollar business into a 5-million dollar business, it helps to have solid, realistic goals and the help of someone who’s been there to help you to work toward those goals.
The right mentor can act as a guide and a sounding board, giving you an edge and inspiring you in unimagined ways, vastly expanding your business’s capacity for growth.
Richard Branson, a famous proponent of mentoring has said “…no matter how smart you think you are…every start-up team needs at least one good mentor.” This tactic has worked wonders for some of the best business leaders in history. Your business should absolutely be following suit.
Know How Much Funding You May Need in the Future and Have Sources Ready
Any time your company is in a phase of rapid growth, you are likely to regularly find yourself in need of more funding. The earlier you are able to determine your future financial needs, the better. Regularly projecting cash flow so that you can anticipate how much credit you’ll need well before the need actually arises is essential to the future success of your business.
In order to be prepared for any eventualities, you’ll want to have strong, ongoing relationships with funding sources and be sure to have backup sources at the ready, just in case something unforeseen happens and your go-to source of funding falls through.
To this end, it is a great idea to avail yourself of the advice of a financial advisor who has worked with companies that have been where you want to go.
According to Jeri Harman of Avante Mezzanine Partners “…one of the key elements in taking a company to the next level is knowing the kind of capital you need to support that growth.” Partnering with a seasoned financial advisor who has a proven track record of growing businesses to the level that you next aspire to achieve can help to ensure that you get where you want to go.
Prepare to Be the Center of Attention
A burgeoning business can begin to put you in the public eye in ways that you are unused to and may initially make you uncomfortable. Be ready to deal with more attention than you are used to. Your potential strategic partners, investors, advisors and customers will want to know all about your vision and your mission. They’ll want to know who you are, and what you stand for.
Indulge the curiosity of your public by making sure that you have an online presence that is comprehensive, transparent and engaging. A business with a shadowy, elusive leader can be off-putting to customers and potential stakeholders.
Invoking Richard Branson once again, it is easy to make a case that his appealing personality is an important driving force behind his business success. He himself is arguably better known than Virgin if we were to make the comparison.
You too have an appeal all your own. This unique set of traits got you to where you are today. Allow people to get to know the authentic you and more business will follow.
Have A Great Team and Value Them Accordingly
Your business will benefit greatly if you have insight about yourself and your strengths and weaknesses. Once you’ve made a reasonable appraisal of yourself, hire great people—particularly those whose strengths can complement yours and provide support in areas where you don’t feel as strong. For example, you may have a solid vision about where you want to go technology-wise, but not so much of a connection to any sort of creative projection. Hiring people to fill in those gaps is a great starting point when you are assembling your star team.
It is also very important is to recognize and reward the efforts and dedication of those that are working with you to realize your vision. When you’ve taken the time and care to assemble the right team it’s important to make employees feel valued, or else you risk losing them to someone who will.
Be a Visionary Leader: Don’t Get Too Caught Up in the Minutiae
While it’s true that attention to detail is important, be sure that as your business grows you spend most of your time focused on the core tasks that are absolutely necessary to accomplish in order to move your company to the next level.
The willingness to get down in the trenches with your team can be seen as an admirable trait, but it behooves you not to get sidetracked trying to micromanage every aspect of the business. If you’ve followed the above advice of putting an excellent team in place, learn to let go and trust them to do the job that you’ve hired them to do. Trusting your team will give you the breathing room to be that visionary leader that focuses on growth, not micromanaging.
A Call to Action
Don’t make the fatal mistake of waiting for growth to occur and then reacting accordingly. Taking steps to prepare for the success you dream of not only guarantees you’ll handle it gracefully when it manifests, but it also helps you to actually create this expansion in a more amplified way. Preparation is in fact movement toward the goal. You deserve to be wildly successful. Start acting as if it’s on the way, because if you do, it actually is.