Getting Your Ducks in a Row for Growth

Warehouse Shipping Inventory

Every entrepreneur sets out to grow the business. More customers, more sales, higher profits. It’s a simple plan that is at the heart of capitalism, and it’s the goal of every operation.

But what could happen that would make growth the worst thing that could happen to a business? Are there really circumstances where hindsight would say that a more measured pace would have been better?

As it turns out, there are. But that comes with a qualifier: Growth can be bad if you aren’t prepared for it.

Expansion of a business is like a fancy meal. The table has to be set before the food arrives, or else it’s a bit of a disaster.

If your business doesn’t have access to additional workers, sufficient warehouse equipment (with the necessary warehouse space), and of course, the additional production capacity needed to meet the new orders, growth could be a catastrophe.

Bear in mind these important strategies for how to prepare for that exciting time when your plans to expand take flight.

Get And Secure the Space

When you get a surge in orders, you can sometimes muddle through by sustaining a brief period of clutter. You can pile extra product at the ends of shelf rows, or you can press a rented space into service.

But the longer you need that space, the more it will require of you. You can’t go on indefinitely in an alarm-free space that lacks appropriate storage fixtures.

So part of your plan for growth should be to have in mind some available spaces that you can quickly lease, secure, and furnish so that you minimize the movement of product. If you wait until the explosion hits, you will not have time to react.

Consider logistical things like loading docks, climate control, and distance from your existing facilities. Don’t forget price, of course, but also remember that a cheap, inefficient space can ultimately cost more than a well-chosen one with a higher price tag.

Get The Personnel

We have to talk in very broad terms here, since every business requires a different type of workers. And sometimes the roles of that personnel can vary. For example, if you have developed an app that is selling well, you don’t need anybody to manufacture anything. But you do need additional IT personnel to troubleshoot download issues and so forth.

Regarding manufacturing, personnel are critical for the actual creation of the product. Can you access temp workers? Can they do the work you need? Have you kept good contact (and good terms) with workers you may have previously laid off during a slowdown? Could you get them back up to speed quickly?

Do you have the HR structure to bring in a large group of new people quickly, getting them onto payroll and benefits in a timely fashion? Can you train them all?

No matter the business type, workers make it happen, and growth will require more of them.

Have A Plan

All of this should fit together nicely as a growth contingency plan for your company. You will need to know where you can get space and the fixtures needed to make it functional. You will need to know what it will cost and the terms of the lease.

You will also need to know how you will find, train, enroll, and activate new workers to get new goods onto the market.

And finally, you will need to know what you know. That is, you will need to have all of these plans gathered together in a manageable format. Your plan will need frequent review and updating because no one can predict when your product will find its sweet spot in the market.

So have a plan, make it accurate, and keep it fresh. Develop it, maintain it, and review it frequently.

Growth is what business is all about. Businesses that see a surge in sales but haven’t planned for how to handle it will end up with a poor reputation for reliability, and they are unlikely to see another surge in the positive direction. A little simple planning can prevent your company from meeting that same fate.

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Paul Tomaszewski is a science & tech writer as well as a programmer and entrepreneur. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of CosmoBC. He has a degree in computer science from John Abbott College, a bachelor's degree in technology from the Memorial University of Newfoundland, and completed some business and economics classes at Concordia University in Montreal. While in college he was the vice-president of the Astronomy Club. In his spare time he is an amateur astronomer and enjoys reading or watching science-fiction. You can follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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