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  • Writer's picturePeter Searle

Common pains as a business grows

45% of business owners feel lonely as they do not have someone in the business to confide in who is feeling the same pressures as they try to keep the business going. But businesses have similar characteristics at different stages. By knowing others have experienced the same pain, the loneliness is diminished, and you can set about finding out how to resolve the issues.

There are broadly four common stages after a business comes into existence:

Start-up – the survival stage. Turning your “work” into a “business”.

After the business comes into existence, the focus is to get some customers and grow the customer base. Marketing takes up all your time and if the cash does not run out then your business will start to grow. The growth is likely to be responsive to what occurs and will probably lack structure. Many businesses get to this stage and the owner continues to just “get by”, but their main concern remains, “where is my next customer coming from?”

After a couple of years trading you can either continue to just “get by” forever or invest in some organisation and structure to turn your “work” in to a “business”. Assuming you get organised and work flows readily, then most people can grow a business to 10 people with some advice at key points.

Lifestyle – you are the centre of the business.

This is a great place to be, the business provides you with a nice income, you can choose your customers and the team you have assembled around you make it an enjoyable place to work. An issue with this is that you can become the “hub” of the business, and you are important person. However, you notice that you cannot take extended holidays as when you are not there, the business slows down. We call this the “owners trap”. So, you can either remain enjoying your business but trapped in it or set about introducing a management team who report to you. When a management team is introduced there is invariably tension between the “founding team” and those being taken on. External support at this stage will help the owner remain objective throughout the transition.

Scalable with repeatable growth cycles

95% of businesses in the UK are less than 10 people. This is because people find letting go and scaling up to be too much of a step. Scaling up the business and making it so the business is not reliant upon you, will give you the freedom to choose what you want to do. However, to scale up efficiently, businesses need to have effective management teams in place. Managing several management teams at different stages of growth, is rarely performed well by the founders. They will struggle and will cry out for the days when they were the “hub”. In early days of scaling up are not easy either, the extra management overhead must be covered, so marketing then becomes an issue again. The ability to manage the managers, if the management team is effective is a skill the owners

will have to acquire so the scaling up becomes profitable. The the owner will have free time to choose what to do next. External support in “leading teams” and having suitable controls in place for the enlarged organisation structure is often required if the owners have not previous experience of working in a large organisation.

Exit the business through a sale or passing it on

Business owners cannot stop the ageing process and as much as some would like to continue forever, the length of time people now live, makes this an unrealistic expectation. The body and mind slow down and at some stage you should take a back seat or exit. The transition, to not being the driving force of the business is a big step. Business owners who don’t make provision for the introduction of fresh blood will inevitably cause their business to not keep up and decline with them as the aging process takes hold.

Next steps

If you would like support to move your business to the next level or exit your business, please request a no-obligation meeting to discuss what bespoke assistance and support I can provide.

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