When you start a business, your goal is growth. Sometimes it may be comfortable to remain stagnant for a time, but no business owner would ever say that they hope their business slowly shrinks in to bankruptcy. Unfortunately, dwindling down to nothing is what happens to a lot of businesses when they grow faster than their operations can handle the load.

Wait, a business can grow too fast? Without the right systems in place, and without adequate preparation, your business could end up collapsing in on itself. Before your company begins its rapid growth pattern, make sure you have your operations in the right place to sustain your product or service.

Is your bank up to it?

As a small business, it’s easy to simply collect checks and cash them as needed. But as you grow, processing payments is time consuming, and sending out invoices can take hours away from badly needed business formulation and planning. Fortunately, your payment processing is one of the easiest and least expensive operations to automate.

There are methods you can employ to collect payment information, and then have the automatic processing done for you every month. For those who don’t have recurring billing, invoicing has become much more streamlined. A company or freelancer can use online programs that create and send invoices digitally. No paper, no rainforest decimated, no waste, no mess. Your client gets the invoice faster, and that means you get paid faster.

Are your employees up to it?

Finding good employees can be a hard. And when you do find good ones, you want to make sure to keep them around for a long time. But when you’re growing rapidly, you end up piling more work onto employees that may already be overworked. The result is they are no longer satisfied with their job.

The alternative to piling more work onto your good employees, is quickly finding employees that may not fit your mold. You don’t want to rush the hiring process, but you also don’t want to overwork your employees so much they quit.

Be ready to tap prospects and offer them a job they can’t refuse, pay overworked employees a great bonus, or get some temps in to work for you who can fill in the gaps. Your temps can be “tried-out” to see if they fit your company culture better and easier than a full-on new hire action.

Is your technology up to it?

As a small business, you can likely get away with some older or simpler technology.  As you grow rapidly, that technology has to be able to keep up with demands that you didn’t have before. You can’t open a new manufacturer overnight. What if you have to open another office across town? Will you be able to network the computer systems together? What if your websites suddenly attracts more traffic, will your hosting be able to handle it — have you made provision for this ahead of time?

Technology is essential in today’s business world. Fortunately, many parts of technology can be an easy part of your business to outsource. You don’t need IT on staff, but you can have them on-call and keep your costs down considerably, however, this is only a short term solution. You will eventually want to have an IT person who is vested in the company and believes in your company and mission statement as much as you do. If your IT is on your team, your IT person will stick with you when you are in real trouble.

If your technology fails you, your customers won’t trust you.

Is your business ready for it?

When you start your business, there are three periods to be aware of. The startup period, where you are working out all the kinks and getting the word out about who you are. This is the time to prepare for what comes next. Then, there is the rapid growth period, which can make or break a business. This period must be prepared for, dreamed about, and you must have a concrete plan in place before rapid expansion occurs. Some people think if you are planning too far ahead you’ll miss what’s happening now or you will jinx yourself. Don’t miss your company’s first baby steps — but you have to have pictured what would happen in lightening-speed growth to be ready for it when it actually happens. Finally there is the slow growth period, where you have all your systems in place, and your company is able to continue growing at a steady pace because you were able to survive the rapid growth period. 

Have you put the systems in place so that when rapid growth happens to your business, you will be ready for it? If not, then now is the time to plan — see it, believe it, — make the plan — ready or not, here it comes.

Sean Bryant is a Denver based freelance writer specializing in travel, credit cards and personal finance. With nearly 10 years of writing experience his work has appeared in many of the industries top publications. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in economics. He also runs OneSmartDollar.com. When not working Sean enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter and dog Charlie and can frequently be found on his bike or snowboard.

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