Rachel has been talking a lot lately about how to grow your business–from making revenue projections, to time tracking, to the crucial mindset shifts you need to make to get yourself there.
But, as the Operations Manager, I always look at growth as a double edged sword (I'm Tressa, by the way, for those of you who haven't heard from me before!). Yes, we want growth. Of course we want it! But, growth comes with its own host of challenges that must be addressed for your business (and your team) to flourish.
When there is more work than can be reasonably done in a day, a week, or even a month, the seemingly “obvious” solution is just to work harder. Because surely, if we just work longer hours everything will get done, right?…
Wrong. Well, maybe for a little while. At first, longer hours do often equate to more accomplishments. But at a certain point, those longer hours will come back to bite you in the ass. When all of those 12+ hour days start to catch up to you, you become less and less effective, and your business becomes less and less profitable. This goes for CEOs and for team members.
So, how can you grow and keep up with your growth in a way that doesn't involve brute force?
I'm glad you asked! As Operations Manager for a thriving, and rapidly growing business, I have to stay on my game. Here are three things I do to help us manage growth without losing our ever-loving minds in the process. Give them a try in your business.
1. Evaluate your expenses (even if you can afford them all)
As Rachel often says: ‘Profit solves all problems.” Meaning, throw your profits at your problems until they are no longer problems.
Look, it's easy to get stuck in tunnel vision when you're so busy you can barely find the time to breathe. And when your business is growing in leaps and bounds, that generally means your profits are increasing. But, when your cashflow is positive, it's easier to put evaluating your expenses on the back burner. You have the money to pay all those expenses, so why worry?
Well, even if your cash flow is positive it's possible that you're wasting money on unnecessary expenses. As your business grows your needs change so there may be a variety of expenses that are no longer relevant while other, more necessary expenses are arising. Having money to spend is a good thing, but first you've gotta make sure you aren't wasting it in some areas before you start throwing it at problems in other areas. Make sense?
So set aside some time to review your financials. Consider all of your current expenses to see what tools and software you're still actually using versus those that are just languishing and draining your account. Cut, cut, cut! Cutting the right expenses allows you to increase your profits even more and ensures that you're solving the right problems with that increased cash flow!
2. Find what's missing
Once you've evaluated your current expenses, consider what you need to add. Are there tools that would allow you to streamline your operations? One of the biggest time sucks I see in businesses over and over is scheduling. So much time is wasted going back and forth with leads and clients to get them on the calendar. Instead, consider an online scheduler and if you already have one that isn't suiting your needs maybe it's time to upgrade!
In addition to tools and software, it may be time to add to your team. Whether you have an in-person or virtual team, employees or contractors, growth often demands a bigger staff. Now ideally, the best time to hire is before you desperately need the help, but that isn't always feasible. Think about what areas of your business are maxed out and could use additional support. Be strategic about the role you hire because it's not always as simple as hiring another attorney, or coach, or marketing expert, to fill the gap you're experiencing.
When it comes to hiring, think long term: what is the best way to build your team to handle your current issues and your ongoing needs?
Sometimes the solution is getting a temporary contractor for the urgent need so you can find the right solution for the long term, rather than running out and hiring a new full-time team member right away.
3. Create smart systems
And of course, my favorite solution to growing pains is systems. It is so, so easy to get stuck in a never ending cycle of work that is inefficient and time wasting simply because we don't take a step back to evaluate how we're doing things. Perhaps it's time to evaluate how you're onboarding clients. Or, how you're following up with your team after a client call. There may be ways you can dramatically streamline your operations to save you time, energy, and also improve your customer service.
Here's how to start: Pick one system you have, even if it's not formally written down anywhere, and evaluate it. Look at the process from start to finish and see if you can improve it. For instance, when you're onboarding new clients, how do you send contracts? If you're sending them a customized PDF each time maybe there's a way to create a template for your packages that can be sent automatically. Or, if you're manually sending an intake form before their first call perhaps there's a way to automate that process. Saving 10-15 minutes on a repetitive task adds up to more hours than you may realize over days, weeks, and months!
There you have it. Three smart tips for keeping up with growth without going crazy. I urge you to rethink the strategy of work harder and instead worker smarter. When we're stuck in a cycle of overwhelm, the “obvious” solution is not always the best one and can in fact be detrimental to our businesses, our teams, and ourselves.
What can you do this week to better prepare your business to handle growth? How can you ensure you and your business are ready to thrive in times of growth?