“The current climate is quite unpredictable and can take unexpected twists and turns, so in the case of leases, negotiate a break clause,” she says. “Taking on long-term commitments that you can’t honour could result in penalties and management time that at this stage of business growth would be better spent elsewhere.”
Monthly management accounts with key KPIs will help highlight any budget variances, key threats and opportunities, while regular operational and board meetings should address any risks and issues with potential solutions.
Set the right pace
A business plan that sets out an overly ambitious pace of growth can undermine a company’s previous success. Trkulja says: “A recruitment company that I worked with had flourished in its current location and decided to open in two new cities simultaneously, signing two new leases and hiring two new teams. When management wasn’t able to dedicate sufficient time in all three locations, one of the offices closed after 18 months due to continued losses. A better strategy would have been to open one office at a time, waiting until it was profitable, and learning from any mistakes before opening the second.”
Having multiple revenue streams reduces reliance on one market while still supporting growth, so it pays to explore any opportunities to diversify.
For tech firm UK Connect, coronavirus was a catalyst for growth. The company was thriving before the pandemic, but focused on only one niche: the construction sector. The crisis prompted them to explore other sectors that could benefit from their telecoms, wireless, and technology services.
Founder PJ Farr says: “Since the first lockdown we’ve started working with the MOD to establish wireless infrastructure at a reactivated training camp, which led to further defence projects and the establishment of a new rapid-response service, suitable for any industry needing emergency telecoms and wireless services, even in the most remote locations.
“My advice to growth firms is to be as agile as possible and implement a strategy that allows you to respond to the current frenetic state of the marketplace. This way, your business will evolve and expand as you ride the shifting socio-economic current.”
Include employees in the plan
A flexible and engaged ‘can do’ workforce is pivotal to next-stage growth. A business is only as good as its people and therefore needs to nurture and support them so that they are prepared to respond positively and creatively to sudden, last-minute changes. Employees should also be made aware of their monthly or quarterly targets and the potential consequences if these are not achieved.
Transparency is a key leadership trait, especially when steering a business and its team through a crisis, but it is equally important during scale-up, as changes take place and new opportunities and challenges arise. Clear and regular communication with employees is essential.
“If everyone in the team is aware of the targets and goals, they will have a better understanding of the decisions that are being made and how they can contribute,” says Mills-Sheffield.