One day I was minding my business on the ‘streets’ of Instagram when someone tagged me in a post. The person who wrote the post was lamenting that business experts preached that small businesses should scale, but we didn’t tell them how tough scaling would be or the cost implications of scaling a business.
I liked the post and ‘walked’ past because I did not want to be dragged into a situation I was not part of creating. So I’ve decided to write my thoughts and share them with you.
Is there such a thing as growing a business too fast? That was the question that I was asked at the Beauty West Africa masterclass that I spoke at recently. My response: yes there is, but it is neither a good thing nor a bad thing. It simply depends on the response of the business owner.
What are the implications of growing a business?
You will need a better structure than you currently have
When you started your business, you probably start as a ‘solopreneur’ or with one or two people to help you build the business. You are probably the Business Accountant, Marketing Manager, and Production supervisor. That is usually okay at start-up. However, once you decide to grow your business, you need to put a better business structure in place. Growth without the right structure would be like trying to turn a bungalow into a four storey building without working on the foundation. It will collapse on you!
You will need to finance growth
I heard about the struggle to finance growth so much, I decided to do something about it and we created a credit matching platform – Owoafara, to match small businesses with financing options to grow their business. You can start a business with just an idea and some grit, but you would usually need finances to grow your business. I have watched businesses stall their growth because of a lack of appropriate financing and it is usually painful to see this happen.
When you decide you are ready to grow your business, you have to decide how much growth would cost and how you would finance growth.
You will need the right team to drive growth
Having multiple roles at the start of your business is okay, but if you intend to grow, you need the right team. An African proverb says: “If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together”. Sustainable growth needs the right team to drive it. The right people in the right position is like having a well-oiled and tuned car. It will perform more efficiently.
You need to decide the roles that need to be filled, the kind of people you want for the role and how you are going to find them.
You will need a strong heart to handle failure
I am not a prophet of doom, but if you have been running a business for any amount of time, you know that failure is inevitable. You will make some mistakes, some of your plans would not go as you expected and things might even take an unexpected turn. You would need to be resilient and believe in the vision you are working towards even if you have to change your plans to achieve it.
I don’t like disappointments myself and sometimes I do wish things were easier. However, when challenges come, I tell myself that I have what it takes to handle it and that’s why it has come to me. A quote I love is “don’t wish it was easier, wish you were stronger”.
You need to have a growth mindset
Since I heard Psychologist Carol Dweck talk about the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset, I have been a fan. The growth mindset is one that is committed to learning and continuous improvement. If you want to grow your business, you need the mindset to support it. You cannot create on the outside what your mind has not conceived on the inside.
Lifelong learning is one of my personal core values because I believe the people that go far in life and business are not people who think they know, but people who are always willing to learn and apply what they learn.
So to the person lamenting on Instagram, now you know; I never said growth would be easy or a walk in the park. I always say that when you take your business from small to scale, you will be able to leverage the economics of scale and create more value for yourself and stakeholders.
Go ahead and share your business growth in the comment section.