Forbes Business Council
Council Post – June 16, 2022

Explosive growth is exciting for any business, and watching your brand become a success feels rewarding.  While you and your team should definitely celebrate that win, you should also be prepared for the side effects of explosive growth.  Your team may need to expand to keep up with demand, as well as increase production and marketing efforts.

These are all decisions that can be made strategically in advance in the event of unexpected growth to help your team more seamlessly adjust to the changes.  To help you do this, a panel of Forbes Business Council expert shared their recommendations for scaling operations to handle an influx of new customers.

1. Hire For Where You Want To Be
I received some of the best advice from a mastermind member: Don’t hire for where you are; hire for where you want to be.  I have always manifested the growth of my businesses and always use that advice.  Having the right staff that fits your culture and lives by your core values will step up when needed to serve all your customers.

2. Prepare A Growth Strategy
All companies, regardless of size and revenue, should prepare a growth strategy, have a plan for how to respond to threats and opportunities and manage resources accordingly.  Actions like forecasting cash requirements and clearly communicating changes to staff will also provide a solid foundation to support the needs that come with rapid growth.
3. Have Great Leaders On Your Team
Surround yourself with leaders that can establish systems and processes for operations as well as coach and mentor more leaders.  Alternatively, improve operations to organize the chaos and build a strong culture with great growth-minded or high-ownership people.  Allow leaders to focus on strategy, vision and overall direction without getting lost in the whirlwind.4. Use A CRM To Gather Contacts
When you’re experiencing rapid growth in your business with an influx of new customers, you should have the right systems, such as CRM, to capture their contacts and foster relationships so they’ll buy from you again.  Remember that acquiring a customer costs more than selling to an existing customer.

5. Identify Any Inefficiencies And Work To Eliminate Them
Rapid growth for the first time is both exhilarating and terrifying.  The best way to scale initially is to identify the operational inefficiencies that already exist and rectify those first.  That could mean hiring new staff or simply expanding the CRM capabilities already in place.  However, if not handled immediately, massive growth will amplify those issues and could cause catastrophic failure.

6. Focus Operations Around Your ROI
Make sure when scaling an operations function for a rapid growth business that you are still operating carefully with the business’s objectives in mind and an ROI at the heart of what you do.  If you can make sure your operations are taking some of the painful and time-consuming parts from your revenue-generating function, you’ll get a great return and something that you can scale quickly.

7. Hire In Advance
It is easier to invest in your team on the front end than when the chaos of growth is occurring.  If you can’t hire in advance, then make sure you hire experience you can trust.  Handing off operational responsibility can be stressful, so make sure you vet your candidates well.  The goal should be finding someone with more experience than you in the areas you need covered.

8. Ensure Your Business Model Supports Scale
When experiencing rapid growth, your business model must support scale.  This is often overlooked.  In order to scale effectively, your company needs a core offer that’s scalable and your systems in place need to support taking on more clients without sacrificing profits.

9. Hire Freelance Workers
Small business owners have access to a vast network of skilled professional freelancers unlike ever before.  Rather than bringing on a full-time team member, consider using outsourced or gig worker talent to bridge the gap.  If growth continues or stabilizes, you can than make the move with certainty.

10. Have Well-Documented Processes
Prepare for it by having operations that are scalable.  Have processes in place to provide your services that are documented, known across your organization and part of the company DNA so they will take place every time.  Develop relationships that can supplement technology and resources just in case.  Automate using a marketing stack with a low bar of entry, so you can more easily train new employees.

11. Follow The ‘Scale In Five’ Methodology
For scaling a business with rapid growth, there really is a very specific “scale in five” methodology that I recommend.  It involves developing a high-performing team, building procedures and processes, designing KPIs and scorecards to manage the business and team, reviewing timely and accurate financial reports and developing your leadership skills as the owner.

12. Hire Selectively
Scaling quickly can be overwhelming and you might try to get just anyone on staff.  Don’t do that.  Take the time to build out the team that’s going to continue to help you grow.  Hire in areas that you don’t excel in, and trust that the people you hired are skilled enough to do the work without micromanagement.  You get time back in the long run when you hire the right people.

13. Keep A Healthy Number Of Staff
Always maintain a healthy bench in your organization.  The prevalence of lean manufacturing principles has slowly eroded the ability of many businesses to be resilient and handle change management well.  Don’t get so lean that it makes you too vulnerable to disruption.

14. Limit Knee-Jerk Reactions
Keep scalability in mind when establishing procedures and processes.  When experiencing explosive growth, it can very much feel like the pressure is on and immediate action is needed.  Try to limit these knee-jerk reactions and focus on methodically establishing the right kind of process that can be replicated and scaled up, which is what ultimately can ease the pressure you’re perceiving.