Almost every business starts small, but a wide range of factors determine the difference between those that stay small and those that grow to have massive success. Customer relations, employee investments, risk management, and compliance all have an impact on your ability to scale.
By taking advantage of the lessons learned by other companies that expanded successfully, you’ll have a much better chance of reaching your company’s highest potential.
Focus on Customer Satisfaction
More than perhaps any other factor, small businesses thrive on delivering value for their customers. Not only are repeat customers the backbone of your revenue, but they play a vital role in increasing sales when you’re ready to grow.
Consumer surveys consistently show that personal recommendations, whether in person or on social media, outperform all other forms of advertising. As you open new locations or expand your services to new geographic areas, you’ll need to work hard to maintain product and service quality. Doing this can seem complicated, but it’s easiest when you keep things simple.
A crucial part of customer satisfaction will be your ability to comply with state or federal consumer protection agencies, including the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. You’ll need to dedicate a portion of your resources to taking complaints seriously and keeping up to date with changes to the law. Earning a negative reputation with consumer advocates can make it very difficult to grow.
Invest in Your Employees
Without reliable employees, your business will have a hard time staying open let alone expanding. When you make a commitment to your workers, by paying good wages and providing meaningful benefits, they will be committed to your business.
The people you start with when small will end up being your district managers, project leads, and even CEOs. They will be the influential people you depend on when it becomes necessary to delegate a lot of responsibility. In addition to retaining talent, treating your employees well will attract top talent from your industry.
Investing in your employees also involves creating a fair and safe workplace. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) provides a wide range of resources for keeping workplaces safe in a variety of industries. You’ll also need to make sure discriminatory practices don’t take hold.
Make proactive steps to become an equal opportunity employer that hires individuals from all different backgrounds. It’s not just about avoiding punishment. A diversified workforce will bring a lot of valuable ideas and skill sets to your company that will help it scale.
Evaluate Potential Liabilities
Unanticipated liabilities can cost your company financially in a crucial stage of development, so it’s essential to evaluate potential problems before they happen. One of the ways most growing businesses evaluate their liabilities is to implement a risk management plan.
The first step is to create a team of stakeholders who can provide input. They will establish objectives for the company, identify which assets are at risk, and assess how significant each risk is to the business.
Next, the team will have to decide how much of these risks the company can tolerate and how to mitigate dangerous liabilities. As a company grows, it’s exposure increases, so risk management becomes more valuable the larger you get.
Learn How to Pick Your Opportunities
An essential characteristic of most business people is ambition, but when growing your company, you need to learn to say no sometimes. Not every available opportunity will end up benefiting your company, and it will be your job to determine the difference between merely good ideas and genuinely brilliant ones.
With unlimited resources, you might be able to take advantage of as many attractive offers as you want, but a scarcity of funds, employees, and assets will force you to be thoughtful and strategic. One example of this could be a medical provider that’s given the opportunity to take on a large group of new patients. They could start treating patients right away to boost revenue, but saying no until they ensured they could remain HIPPA compliant would be the smarter move.
Don’t Take Shortcuts
As your business grows, you or other managers at your company may be tempted to cut corners to boost the numbers. This is a big mistake in every area, but it’s especially damaging when it comes to compliance.
One of the most common types of compliance companies have to deal with is the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). This affects the secure storage and handling of credit card holder information to reduce credit card fraud. While PCI DSS compliance is not currently mandated by the federal government, failure to comply could sacrifice your license in several states as well as a result in significant fines.
Instead of risking your ability to process credit cards, invest in compliance as you grow to ensure you maintain your revenue stream.
Keep Things Simple
In both nature and business, it’s normal for things to become more complex as they get bigger. As you add on or enhance products and services during periods of growth, user instructions, interfaces, and even engagement campaigns can become needlessly convoluted. You’ll often notice that old aspects of your products and services have become vestigial components in your messaging.
It’s essential to evaluate your presentation to customers regularly to ensure your message is clear, concise, and focused.
Complexity is a phenomenon you must fight against if you want to scale successfully consistently. Whether you require a new office to comply with ISO or have expanded into a new tier of PCI DSS, simplifying your operations will enable your organization to scale upward with as little friction as possible. In most of these cases, getting support and guidance from experts is a worthy investment.