Growing fast is a good thing if you know how to handle it. When you meet or exceed a customer’s expectations—when you go above and beyond the promises you’ve made—you’ll be rewarded by the look in their eyes, the happiness in their voices. You’ll know their names because they keep coming back. Their pleasure becomes your pleasure. They’ll be exchanging dollars for joy—and they’ll give joy right back to you.
The problems start when owners don’t know how to manage rapid business growth. When business is booming, pay attention to even the smallest growing pains so you can get out ahead of them.
Here are some of the warning signs to watch for:
- Customer complaints outweigh positive feedback
- Deadlines are consistently being missed
- You’re losing more customers than you’re bringing in
- Your customers buy once but never come back
What might that look like in the real world? Imagine a new gourmet pizza shop opens up a few blocks from your house. You’re blown away when you pop in one sunny afternoon to try it out—the pesto pizza is perfect, the service top-notch. You leave a five-star review and go on your way.
By the time you drop in for a second visit a few months later, word’s gotten around. There’s a line around the block, and your family waits over an hour for a table that’s still covered in crumbs and sauce from the guests that just left. When a frazzled server finally brings your order by, you find one pizza charred to a crisp and the other severely undercooked. They didn’t give you the gluten-free crust you asked for, but they still charge you extra for it. They refuse to fix your bill and can’t even be bothered to offer an apology.
Would you go back to that restaurant? Or would you tell your friends to avoid it at all costs?
You might think the pizza shop grew too fast. But growing fast is a good thing. The problems start when you ignore the early warning signs that demand is outpacing your ability to meet it. The short-term impact you’ll see is unhappy customers. And in the long term, your growth will come to a screeching halt.
As a business owner yourself, you might have some sympathy for the owner of our imaginary pizza shop. You’d know they had the passion and technical skills to run a great restaurant because you saw it on your first visit. You might even be a little more familiar than you’d like to be with having more customers than you can handle.
So how do you protect your own company from spiraling out of control in a similar way?
The first step toward managing small business growth is to understand that rapid growth isn’t the problem: It's the lack of scalable fulfillment systems you need to keep customers happy. If you focus your efforts on becoming a fulfillment-first company, you’ll find yourself with a scalable business model that can keep up with growth no matter how fast it comes.
So what steps can you take now, today? What strategies can you put in place to better manage your growth and keep customers happy?
It’s scary to feel like you’re losing control. Schedule a free session with an EMyth Coach to get the support you need to get a handle on your growth. The coach you’ll meet with will help you see what you don’t know.