I was fortunate to be mentored by a wise business person who, among many other things, taught me that business is always a problem—there’s not enough, or there’s too much. He preferred the latter. But sudden business growth can be a headache.
Sudden Business Growth isn’t Always Sudden
TKO is doing business at a record-setting pace. That’s nothing new for us because we’ve been growing by leaps and bounds for several years. However, this year, we’ve landed some of the biggest contracts in our thirty-year history.
As my mentor pointed out, a growing business, especially when faced with sudden business growth, faces special challenges.
Meeting the Challenges of Sudden Business Growth
- Ramp up the hiring process. If you know it’s coming, prepare by hiring additional staff before you need them. At TKO we held a job fair 30 days before a large contact was to begin. We interviewed more than 70 applicants and hired 20.
- Don’t stop training. When business is going crazy, training may be more important than at any other time. Years ago, as operations manager at another organization, I had a service crew blow the engine on their company truck due to lack of maintenance. When I asked how they could let that happen, they said they were too busy to stop. My point is whether it’s vehicle maintenance or training, shortcutting can lead to bigger issues.
- Don’t stop doing what got you the work. Trading quality for quantity isn’t a good plan. Don’t curb internal or external communications and don’t short cut or sidestep systems.
- Plan Ahead. Along with staffing and training considerations take time to consider what tools, equipment, and supplies you’ll need.
- Take care of all your customers. Here’s what TKO Graphix President, Tom Taulman II, said in our company newsletter. “We want to serve our loyal customers as they deserve to be treated. Because long standing partners need to know we’re here to help them as well.”
- Share your goals. Let your entire team from top to bottom know your goals for the project. Break goals into achievable segments. Track progress and celebrate milestones. Let everyone know what to do, how to do it, and why.
- Give credit where it’s due. Your team may be working harder, smarter, and, longer. Show them your appreciation by recognizing their contributions. Sometimes just telling someone, “Great job on the ABC contract” can make their day if not their week.
- Scaling isn’t how much you weigh. Scaling means altering systems to fit the needs of the current state of the business, for example, Former General Motors CEO Ed Whitacre slashed redundant paperwork at GM to increase production. Adobe VP of HR Donna Morris eliminated performance reports, and Twitter banned cell phones from all meetings. Where can your business scale?
- Good enough isn’t good enough. If you have tools, systems, or personnel that just get by—getting by may not be enough to tackle sudden business growth. Empower your team to suggest procedural improvements. Ask them what interferes with their production and what tools they need to improve. Train personnel who aren’t meeting standards and hold them accountable to performance.
Will You be Ready for the Challenge?
I hope your company is prepared to land a huge contract. Planning ahead not only might save your sanity it can keep your business from imploding, because the elephant in the room is that many businesses that were unprepared for major growth didn’t survive the surge. Are you prepared?