Every small business owner dreams of making it big with a massive contract that doubles the size of their business with a single signature. Accommodating rapid growth like this, though, presents a number of significant challenges. Businesses who aren’t ready to manage these may miss out on major growth opportunities, or even jeopardise their business in some cases. Those who meet their business’ rapid growth needs well, on the other hand, can enjoy incredible growth while minimising many of the risks that businesses often face when scaling up.
Managing up-front investment
Scaling up necessarily requires a relatively large up-front investment. It means purchasing new equipment and resources, expanding into new real estate, and paying new workers. Of course, businesses need to do all of these things before they can actually begin working on new contracts to generate the revenue they need to cover these costs. Since most SMEs don’t keep large amounts of growth capital on hand to cover these kinds of expenses, they need to prepare financing options that are ready to deploy when the time is right.
Supply chain finance
Supply chain finance is a way to stretch your existing funds further by delaying outgoing payments. It allows you to pay suppliers using a credit fund with your financial institution instead of your own funds. Payments on the balance of that fund can then be deferred, potentially giving your business the time it needs to set up and begin collecting payment from new clients before making payments.
Standby finance facilities
Standby loans are loans that, as the name suggests, are placed on standby. They are negotiated with a financial institution ahead of time, but the borrower doesn’t commit to actually taking any money, or committing to any interest payments, until the need arises. With the loan fully approved, you can access the funds at a moment’s notice, so you won’t be forced to go through weeks or months of negotiation to get financing when it’s time to act.
Unsecured business loans
It can be difficult to assess exactly how much funding you’ll need when you don’t already know exactly what growth opportunity your business is going to be taking advantage of. Because of that, even well prepared businesses often need to find ways to come up with some extra cash. Applications for unsecured business loans, unlike traditional loans, can be processed in just one or two days, making them an important tool for businesses that are trying to absorb a temporary budget shortfall.
What all of these financing options have in common is that, unlike traditional business loans, they are deployable at a moment’s notice. Businesses using these tools don’t have to try to anticipate when they’ll be able to grow best in the future, or try to force the issue whenever their financing comes through. Instead, they can wait until the perfect growth opportunity comes along, and access financing reactively to manage the costs.
Growing your team effectively
While financial issues are often a critical point for growth, how growth is managed internally is an issue that should not be glossed over. Rapidly growing businesses not only need to hire new workers to service new clients, they need to find a way to rapidly integrate those workers and ensure that their work meets the business’ standards.
Training new hires
The healthy rate of growth of any business is limited by its ability to integrate new workers. Overestimating the rate at which you can do this can be risky. Training a new hire takes time and resources away from other activities, such as producing goods and services for customers. Even businesses that can find as many qualified applicants as they need will have to consider the rate at which they can train new employees without impacting the quality of their current work, or burning out current employees.
Managing your company culture
Rapid growth often also necessitates restructuring. Hierarchies and processes need to adapt as businesses grow, and new hires can be trained and integrated more quickly if they’re placed into positions where they can work directly with more senior team members. Unfortunately, this is inherently disruptive to your existing team, and can lead to resentment and workplace drama if it isn’t managed well. To minimise potential problems resulting from this, it’s important to built a strong trust relationship with your team, and to put effort into creating a healthy and adaptive company culture.
To seize a big growth opportunity and successfully take advantage of it is not an easy task. By educating themselves about the associated challenges, and making the effort to prepare for them now, businesses can ensure that, when the time comes, they’ll be able to take full advantage.