You are riding the wave, but it’s tricky at the top! Businesses in hyper-growth face very different challenges, from talent shortages to outpacing the market. A firm in this phase has to carefully look at their opportunities and business processes to optimize and overcome these issues:
You need to get better at managing the workload as you grow. Look for weakness and roadblocks and hire to fill those gaps. You’re at the top so you can see the big picture, not focus on every detail. That’s what your team is for. The skills and abilities that help you launch an idea are not the same needed to maintain hyper-growth. As things become more complex, you need to up your game too, and delegate to specialists. Learning to listen and depend on them is a challenge in itself!
You can’t delegate without people you can trust. Hyper-growth is a critical period when hiring the wrong people is a recipe for disaster, so both quality recruitment and retention are essential.
Your people are your foundation, so get it right the first time. Mistakes are expensive! When hiring new employees, choose those who are up to the challenge and find change exciting, not upsetting. They are your real innovators. Every employee is in sales and acts as a face for your product(s) and corporate culture, so be careful who you add and how you integrate them into the mix.
- Hire people who are smarter and more talented than you, particularly in your weakest areas.
- Never stop recruiting. Expert entrepreneurs spend 25–33 percent of their time finding the right people.
- Never stop training. Shape the team you have, and look for dedication to personal and professional development.
- Live and work by your values, and hire accordingly.
- Pre-screen candidates by customizing the application process. Require specifics for cover letters, a video or a practical assignment.
- Interview questions are critical and need research. Don’t go purely on intuition. Reference checks are just as important. Ask how potential candidates compare to peers, and get less filtered responses by asking for more contacts.
- Social media can be your friend, but not for high-skill positions.
- Craft job descriptions carefully and offer fair compensation and benefits to attract and keep top-talent. This is where you sell your corporate culture. Discuss the role and its responsibilities, but focus on opportunities.
- Create an interview scorecard for your hiring team with key values and attributes, as well as deep and specific experience or other important skills.
Growing pains and shifts into new markets are rocky, so build a team with the right flexibility. Don’t compromise attitude and the right fit because work relationships create incremental synergy, fueling growth beyond individual performance.
Tracking individual performance in a growth phase presents new difficulties, but it’s even more critical. Recognizing and rewarding excellence, fosters further growth. Every company has its top performers, and they aren’t necessarily executives either. All positions have those with special gifts and particular talents. Nurturing these hidden resources is a vital leadership skill. Look for those extraordinarily successful behaviors that could become a basis for better work practices or training to bring other team members up to speed.
If you want employees to consistently meet and exceed your expectations, they need the right motivation and rewards. Corporate culture either frustrates employees or drives them forward. Express your values in everything, from work practices to performance reviews and feedback. There is a time to mix things up and see what shakes loose and a time to let people focus on what they really do best. Learn when to promote someone or give them further training, without removing them from where they create the most value. Balance career development, with core competency. Motivate with more than money, but let’s be realistic, it helps too.
Having the right software, phone systems, manufacturing, accounting and data solutions in place can make all the difference too. Look for optional features that can grow with you. Keep supply flowing to meet demand. Quality and reliability are often more important than rock bottom prices.
Be open to change and reevaluate relationships with suppliers and restructure as needed. Streamline your information infrastructure and invoicing for top efficiency. Start-ups often work with a lot of informality when it comes to documentation, policies and procedures, but that isn’t practical with larger numbers.
Value can also come from outside sources too. The right partnership creates a symbiotic relationship that can bring both companies to prominence. No one is going to stand up and volunteer to just give you a boost, but recognizing mutual benefits and networking your contacts helps at every level. Business will always be a social art with relationships both inside and outside the company.
Does going international seem like the next logical step to keep up expansion? Hyper-growth certainly increases the attraction, but this challenge alone presents many unique risks and demands. Your managers may not have international experience, leading to a number of unanswered questions.
- Where should you expand?
- Will there be new legal issues, taxes or import duties?
- Should you open a remote office and\or hire local help?
- How will you deal with language and cultural barriers?
- Will outsourcing alienate your established customer base?
Distance obviously affects oversight. Being aware of local safety and labor practices assures product quality, and avoids human rights abuses, or bad environmental publicity. Increasing legal complexity also requires the right international lawyers with knowledge of both countries to avoid fines, penalties and red tape.
The intricacies of contracts and other communications are easily lost in translation or because of a cultural or language mismatch in your customer service. Differences with gender roles, values, marketing styles and manners can all be problematic.
A Final Word
Don’t let complacency fool you into thinking your growth has slowed, just as you get into the groove. Conditions in the market change too. If you want to stay ahead, regularly revisit and revise your business plan. If you aren’t diligent, technology and supply patterns fall behind. Stability and optimization mean constantly keeping pace.
In the early start-up stages, it’s easy to keep a hand in almost everything, but as you move into hyper-growth, you must learn where to focus your time and control or you and your team will quickly become overwhelmed. Just remember, you can’t do it on your own. It takes teamwork and the right leadership.
Growth makes everything bigger — the risks and the rewards. Growing pains are predictable and even preventable with the right preparation and foundation. Scaling up isn’t always seamless and growth spurts are unpredictable, requiring constant preparation.