Handling rapid growth

Rapid_Business_Growth

Nearly every time I write the word “rapid”, I spell it “rabid” first.  Not sure whether that’s a subconscious slip or just muscle memory, but I paused for a minute writing the title because “rabid” might be a better word in this context.

How does a company, particularly a newer business, deal with rapid growth?

Our business line is in its third year of operation and we’re still growing very rapidly.  (Interestingly, our bank’s other major business line in Salt Lake City is also growing rapidly.  They are a more mature business than us, having been around for 10 years, but many of the challenges are the same.)  If there’s anything consistent about rapid growth, it is that change is the status quo.  I recently wrote a recap of the last couple years for our team.  While I’m sure I missed some important events, it was still surprising to see how much change we’d absorbed since opening day.

With our rapid growth, we’ve dealt with lots of pressures simultaneously.  Not only do we have issues of scale, we have the ongoing development of our culture and product line to consider.  Most importantly, because part of our niche is the level of personal attention we provide our contractors, we have to closely monitor our communications to be sure we get better, not worse.  Growing pains are inevitable, but if we were to emerge from our chrysalis a completely different animal than we set out to be, that could only be considered a failure.

Along with issues of scale, product line and culture, growth puts pressure on processes, technologies, and people.  We regularly encounter processes that work pretty well a few times per day but don’t work dozens of times a day.  Technologies that were OK at small volumes (e.g., a cloud-based phone system) are substandard at larger volumes (we purchased our own phone system).  And finally, those of us who were comfortable at 50 mph may be less comfortable at 90 mph, which means personal growth and capacity have to keep up with the business.

Of course, these are all the best problems to be experiencing.  Having been on the side of the line where the objective is to shrink or shut down a business, rapid growth is far preferable.

In your business – particularly a contracting business – how do (did) you deal with rapid growth?

 

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