Some years ago, a friend of mine who ran a small marketing firm was invited to pitch to a large division of a Fortune 500 company. She was very excited about the prospect, but at the same time was worried about her firm’s ability to meet the challenge. There were hiring considerations locally and regionally so flexible working became an issue. She needed more partner resources to fill all of the client’s needs and there were a host of new account record keeping requirements. She proceeded with the pitch and won the business. What’s more, she successfully dealt with all the issues and went on to win several other large accounts.
Sudden growth can be just as challenging as a business setback. It may require you to acquire a new set of skills and resources and scale quickly. Being unprepared can damage your current business. Here are some things to put in place so you’ll be ready when opportunity comes knocking.
Start delegating: I’ve written before about the need to delegate so you can focus on new opportunities as they present themselves. Successfully delegating requires you have the right people in the right positions and provide training to keep them up to date on their skills and prepared to quickly take on new tasks.
Anticipate customer service needs: Your customer service procedures may be fine for now but can you maintain the same level of responsiveness if you suddenly have more business? Start now to make changes. You may want to revise the roles and responsibilities of your customer service staff. Consider implementing a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) system. It not only makes updating your system easier, it centralizes your information making it accessible to your team even if they are working remotely. Make sure everyone dealing with customers has the right technology to be more productive, including mobile devices so they can answer calls from anywhere and get online. By using wireless headsets, your staff can move around the office to get information and still stay connected to a call, which helps boost productivity, efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Expand your business contacts: My friend’s marketing firm needed to add website development capabilities to meet the requirements of her new Fortune 500 client. Fortunately she had several vendor connections. You may need to bring on partners quickly to meet a new customer need. Have those contacts already available by leveraging LinkedIn and making new contacts at business events to build out your network.
Have cash on hand: New opportunities may require tapping into your cash reserves. If you don’t have enough cash reserves consider a bank loan or explore loans provided by the Small Business Administration. Outside investment is another option, including crowd funding.
By planning and strategizing for growth, you should be able to take on new opportunities when they present themselves without disrupting or jeopardizing your current customers and operations. If you need help in looking at the big picture, there are many consultants who can work with you.