Are Growing Pains Afflicting Your Business? How To Successfully Scale Your Company
Ambitious entrepreneurs often are determined to grow their businesses by expanding into new areas, adding new products, and increasing the size of their workforce.
But growth comes with potential hazards, which is why one of the leading causes of business failure is overexpansion - growing too much too fast.
"There are so many complexities involved with growing a company," says Shawn Burcham (www.shawnburcham.com), author of Keeping Score with GRITT: Straight Talk Strategies for Success, and founder and CEO of PFSbrands, the parent company of Champs Chicken, Cooper's Express, and BluTaco.
"If you've been a parent and raised kids, you can relate it to the various ages of kids. Much like your kids need different things at different ages, your business has different needs at different stages of growth."
To stay on track with those needs, Burcham says business leaders need to:
- Constantly evaluate employees. When a company is growing and improving, employees need to do the same, Burcham says. He's an advocate of lifelong learning and expects employees to commit to continual personal improvement through reading, seminars, or other educational efforts. In addition, while Burcham likes to promote from within, he will look elsewhere when necessary. "Scaling requires your team to evolve, but it also requires new blood," he says. "As a company is growing, sometimes you have to go out and recruit the talent to help you get to that next level."
- Protect the brand. As the business grows, it's crucial to adhere to standards and have quality controls in place. Otherwise, the business won't build brand loyalty. "If you go into McDonald's and you get a Big Mac or a Quarter Pounder, you want that Big Mac or Quarter Pounder to taste the same in every location," Burcham says. "That's ultimately what every national brand is working toward." In his own business, he has seen competitors of PFSbrands locate in supermarkets and convenience stores with loose standards. "In some cases, we lose business to these competitors who are lenient and have lower standards," Burcham says.
- Embrace the future. Scaling is all about embracing the future, and that includes understanding Millennials who will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, Burcham says. "Younger generations want to know why they're doing something, and that makes a lot of sense when you think about how they grew up with their electronic devices," he says. "They have been able to get answers anytime they want them." Burcham's company uses an open-book management approach that fits well with the transparency younger workers desire, he says. "Personal growth, education, and continuous learning are also things they are looking for. If companies today want to scale, then they need to embrace Millennials and work to create an environment where they are engaged."
Take their time back. "To be an effective leader as your business grows, you need to consistently work on time management," Burcham says. He has five steps for doing this. 1. Decide what's important and focus on two or three top priorities each day. 2. Stop doing some tasks. Instead, delegate or automate them. 3. Start on the most important thing first. 4. Learn to say no. 5. Block out time for self-improvement and life needs.
"Scaling is a process, not a destination," Burcham says. "If you really want your business to grow, you need to be constantly moving, constantly evaluating and constantly improving."
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