For many small businesses, growth is a tricky thing. You obviously want it to happen, but if you don’t plan for it and manage it well, it can get out of hand. On the flip side, there are times when your growth plans could definitely use a boost.
You didn’t start your company so it could flounder. You want your team to go places, gain recognition and serve markets in innovative ways. While you can see these visions play out in your head, knowing how to carry them out isn’t as clear-cut. To ready your organization for growth, here are three methods to try.
1. Delegate Like a Boss
You founded your company on your ideas. So it’s not unusual to feel the urge to oversee every detail. And in the early stages of a small business, everyone’s roles can be less structured. There’s a need for a single decisive voice to lead the way.
But this chain of command can stunt your company’s growth as operations get off the ground. If employees are afraid to act without your stamp of approval, initiatives will fall by the wayside. Team members won’t feel empowered or trusted, to the point where they withhold their skills and expertise.
A lack of role clarity can also hold your team back. Employees won’t know what falls within their range of authority and responsibility. Staff members will feel uneasy about stepping on someone else’s toes, so they won’t take any steps at all. Role ambiguity can confuse, frustrate and demotivate.
That’s why Thryv, a provider of all-in-one small business management software, recommends a matrix structure. Under a matrix structure, the business owner is like the head coach of a football team. You’re in charge of the game plan but delegate to and empower those who assist you. Each project has a lead who manages the initiative with the help of other employees’ contributions. Every team member knows what to accomplish and how it relates to the company’s strategy.
2. Do a Process Audit
It’s often not the people who fail but the processes they’re expected to follow. Business growth can stagnate when there are procedural and resource inefficiencies. These inefficiencies can stem from overly complicated procedures or not having any processes at all.
To find what’s not working well, you need to play detective. Investigate what resources and courses of action your team’s relying on in different situations. Say your marketing team is responsible for supporting your retail sales team. Marketing creates in-store brochures and other materials for the sales staff to use.
However, the stores consistently report problems with not receiving promo materials on time. In addition, there are frequent errors in what the brochures and flyers say. Further investigation shows there are too many people involved in the approval process. Marketing scrambles to make last-minute changes, and overall direction is inconsistent. Employees are also shipping materials they could digitally distribute with technology.
Revising these processes will speed things up and improve accuracy. You could start by removing unnecessary people from the approval chain. Better tech resources at the store level will allow sales staff to print the basics on demand. And tighter planning and cutoff dates could let marketing complete their creative tasks without the pressure that leads to mistakes.
3. Optimize Internal Communication
Poor communication within a company does more than create chaos. It erodes trust in the team and leadership for more than 40% of employees. And internal communication troubles impact a larger proportion of remote workers. About 54% of offsite staff say it negatively influences trust in leaders, while 52% say it lowers conviction in the team.
Whether your small business operates remotely or in person isn’t the issue. It’s how, when and what you communicate. Effective communication requires avoiding mixed messages and choosing the right channels for different kinds of information sharing. You wouldn’t explain a major change in company direction via Google Chat any more than you’d hold an all-hands meeting to ask a question about an invoice. Choosing the channel according to context, your audience, and the nature of the information will enable you to get your message across in the right way at the right time.
Not surprisingly, Slack is one company that has internal communication figured out. Its real-time messaging platform allows team members to communicate instantly, eliminating lengthy email chains and enabling quick decision-making. Designated channels keep conversations organized and relevant team members engaged. And because conversations are searchable, all employees can call up needed info on demand.
Growing Your Small Business
Every owner among the 33.2 million small businesses in the U.S. wants their company to thrive. Firing up your growth plans can help you gain the steady market traction you need to stick around. While external factors influence your goals, what’s happening on the inside is usually the thing that stops you from achieving them. Optimizing delegation practices, processes, and internal communication will remove common barriers to small business growth.