Start-ups and small businesses can be exciting places, particularly when you hit the marketplace so hard that there is an explosion in demand for your services which means you need to expand and add new headcount quickly. Lots of new faces coming in a short space of time can bring new energy and ideas but can also create growing pains.
1. Try to keep hold of the culture that made you great.
Things will have to get more formal as your company gets bigger and gets higher profile clients. But, don’t forget that it was this great informal start-up culture that got you where you are today. So, try to keep your start-up spirit as you grow by holding on to the good bits and jettisoning the parts that are holding you back.
2. Embrace flexible working.
Modern workers want to work flexiby be that from home, or on unusal hours, or on a freelance basis etc… Be open to flexible working, or you will be closing the door on a big part of the talent market.
3. Remove bottle necks.
A hangover of small businesses is there that there are often one or several all powerful employees who control lots of processes and key decisions. As the business grows, this job becomes too big for one person, but they are often reluctant to let go of the power, and they become bottlenecks. Identify bottlenecks quickly and address them.
As the business grows you won’t be able to manage all the HR forms, processes and systems in word and excel files without huge amounts of manual labour and confusion. So, invest in HR software to automate many of the people processes, saving you time and money.
5. Watch out for leadership black holes.
A big problem with rapidly growing small firms is that a teams grow, more leadership is needed, and a leadership vacumn appears. Start looking out for people with leadership potential when hiring or walking the floors so you have a pipeline of talent to step up when needed.
6. Foster teamwork.
As the business expands in size and locations, communication becomes far more challenging and there is a premium on teamworking and collaboration skills. Start putting an emphasis on these skills when hiring.
7. Get specialist HR help.
As the business grows beyond 30 people you’ll need specialist help in areas of HR, employment law in order to manage the legal side of the business effectively.
8. Let employees share in success.
Fast growing small business are full of hopes and high future expectations. Exploit this by having a share/ stock option scheme so employees can share in any future success. It’s a powerful motivation tool in rapidly growing small firms.
9. Avoid overworking staff.
Rapid growth can create a need for staff to burn the candle at both ends, but don’t let employees average much more than 40 hours a week as productivity will suffer.
Share the knowledge.
Big firms can be guilty of too much paperwork and small firms can be guilty of too little. As the firms grows, knowedge can no longer afford to be locked in one employee’s head. Encourage systems and process to encourage knowledge sharing and cross training and mentoring.