“My, how you’ve grown!”
Remember when you were a kid, and one day you’d go to put on your favorite pair of jeans, only to find that they were suddenly 5 inches too short? You didn’t even notice you were growing. One week the pants fit, and the next week they didn’t!
We regularly talk about kids having growth spurts — short periods of time in which immense physical change occurs, right in front of our eyes, yet no one even notices until it’s done.
The same thing happens in small businesses. You’ll be going about your day-to-day routine — running your business, serving customers, managing your team — then all of sudden you start to notice small problems popping up where there used to be none:
- A missed deadline, which hasn’t happened in years…
- A backlog of voice messages and emails that you can never seem to get ahead of…
- A miscommunication among longtime team members that resulted in duplicated efforts and plenty of tension…
These are common signs that your business (or team) has outgrown the old way of doing things. The habits and practices you put in place months or years ago, the same ones that were instrumental in your great success, are no longer working.
“We just bought you those jeans 3 months ago! How do they not fit?”
The habits and practices that make up “the way you do things” are your business’s operations and infrastructure. They are the resources and systems that enable you to run your business the way you want to exercise your superpowers to their fullest. And as your business grows, the operational and structural needs change too. For example:
- Going from a team of 4 to a team of 5 adds many more communication channels and layers of coordination, even though it’s still a small team.
- Serving more customers at any given time means keeping track of more services delivered, deadlines, invoice dates, etc., not to mention more complex workload tracking.
- Adding a new service or product line means making sure all customers receive the same quality of service and customer experience, even if they are receiving different services and working with different people.
These types of growing pains happen to all small business, and they are normal and to be expected. What makes each business unique, though, is how it handles the growing pains.
“Can’t You Just Stay This Size Forever?”
Whether you developed your way of doing things deliberately or by default, your operations were built to support an earlier, smaller version of your business that no longer exists. It’s time to take stock of what the current version of your business looks like and needs, and invest in a bigger pair of metaphorical jeans!
Are YOU experiencing growing pains in your workplace? Take this quiz and find out!