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Four tips on how to plan, manage and drive explosive growth
Finder, an Australian financial product comparison website, saw its business rapidly grow in the past year, with staff numbers jumping from 10 to 28 in 2013.
Founder and chief executive Fred Schebesta told StartupSmart that focused periods of intense growth are challenging but worth the investment, both in regards to revenue and increased awareness of your company’s capacity.
“We needed that big push to get to where we are now. We could’ve gone step by step, but your competitors are going to see what’s going on,” says Schebesta, who’s also a StartupSmart contributor.
“We invested in our growth and now we’re ready to scale that again. But unless we went for the big growth beforehand, we wouldn’t know that scaling would work.”
Start with an assessment of your own capacity
According to Schebesta, business owners need to start by assessing their current capacity.
“What can you handle internally, and where do you need to get more resources or outsource to?” Schebesta says. “When we were planning to grow, we worked out some basic growth goals and then we reversed those metrics back to what we needed.”
These goals and insights form the spine of a really basic growth plan, which Schebesta says you can use to communicate with your staff and suppliers.
Communicate where you want to go clearly
Schebesta says they didn’t have too much turnover during the intense growth periods, but it’s important to be clear with staff before, during and after the sprints.
He says having a clear but flexible plan helps take more people on the journey with you.
“Write down a really basic plan. You never know exactly what will happen when you’re really growing, so broad is fine. Then communicate it. You need to be really clear on where you’re going and what you expect,” Schebesta says, adding that this can also include updating your goals.
He says this is also the best time to re-assess your goals and make sure everyone is challenged but confident about them.
“You’ll get a bit of backwards and forwards and you need to work out what’s possible and how long it’ll take. Your first estimates are your best guess, but after you actually talk to everyone, you can make those accurate and make them work.”
Review what you’re doing, pull back and focus on what works
Huge growth requires ongoing management to ensure it’s actually improving the business. Schebesta says they had a strong model they replicated into new markets with new sites.
“We built all of these sites and exploded onto the internet, but our quality did drop off a bit,” he says. “As you grow, the quality of your checks can drop off. So we decided to slow down and get it right, and at one point we decided to stop for a bit.”
This involved reviewing staff, processes and systems.
“We found throughout that explosive growth the biggest challenge is not falling over.” He adds that it’s up to the entrepreneur to keep an objective eye on your offerings and growth trajectory.
“Not everything will go perfectly, but being ready to slow down what’s not working and put more resources into the best bits helps. Don’t focus on what isn’t working, there are always costs and some projects won’t work.”
Tailor your goal timelines
Schebesta is currently in the middle of a 60-day plan. He says this is a good timeframe to make sure you’re making the most of each opportunity in a growing business.
During the booming growth period, his team was operating on daily goals.
He says tailoring the timeframe you expect to get results ensures maximum performance.
“When you’re growing fast, you can set goals and targets day by day because you’ll reach them and having to hit them daily helps that too,” Schebesta says. “We’d call it out in the office, where we were up to. It’s old school but that’s how we did it and it worked.”
Schebesta says new website areas, traffic levels and sales were all goals they focused on daily.
“It was a lot of late nights and you need all of your crew on board because it’s full on.”