Solutions to the Most Common Growing Pains in a Small Business

03 Aug, 2017 / Comments: Comments Off on Solutions to the Most Common Growing Pains in a Small Business / By

Starting a small business is exciting but what’s even more exciting is watching it grow. When your small business is growing it means that something is going right but doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is going perfectly. This can often result in “growing pains.” Growing pains let you know that something needs to change. Here are 7 of the most common growing pains and what you can do to solve them.


Hiring the Right People

Finding qualified employees can be a major challenge for small business owners. It can be made even more difficult by the fact that small businesses often have a more difficult time standing out against larger companies in online job boards. When you do have applicants come in for interviews, you want to make sure you’ve found the right people. Gauge their interest, look at their potential. Past experience is important, but you want people who can help you grow. You should also share your vision for your company with your potential new hires and see how they connect to it.


Controlling Costs

Controlling costs is essential and can mean the difference between staying in the black or plummeting into the red. It is especially important when you are growing. All of your costs (employees, materials, overhead) need to be carefully monitored and managed to make sure that you are not dipping into your profits. What can make it more difficult is that you also need to be careful not to underspend. Underspending can slow productivity and negatively impact the customer experience. You will need to pay close attention to your costs and make adjustments as needed.


Getting Overworked

The balance of work life and home life is difficult enough for most people, but it can be especially challenging as a business owner. The unfortunate part about this growing pain is that it can often sneak up on you. You may want to give your undivided attention to your business during this time, but you also need to make time for your responsibilities at home. Setting priorities and staying organized are key to achieving this essential balance.


Not Delegating

It’s natural to want to be in control; you are the business owner after all. Being in control in the earliest stages of business may be important, but there will come a time when some of that control will need to be surrendered. It may feel strange at first, but handing off some of your responsibilities to those you trust can be a great help. When you’ve hired the right people, there should be little to no issues.


Poor Planning

It can be difficult to focus on the future when you’re in the midst of growth. Planning for the long term is essential and will help to give you direction. Make sure that while you are dealing with the current issues at hand that you are also keeping your eye on the big picture.


Becoming Overwhelmed by Growth

There’s always pressure to grow and expand when you are a successful small business. Growth is good, but you need to be careful about your timing. A successful small business will not necessarily make a successful big business. Every small business eventually goes through growing pains and it is ultimately up to you whether or not you want to push forward and expand.


Growing in Sales but Not Profits

It is possible for your sales to increase while your profits remain the same. This means that you are simply increasing your workload. It is also possible for sales to increase, but for profit to actually decrease. These issues often happen when the focus is on sales rather than profit. Sometimes a company may be focused too much on spending whatever they need in order to make sales or promote themselves. Make sure that you pay attention to your sales and profits and make adjustments where needed.


Growth in a successful small business in inevitable and so are growing pains. It’s how you deal with those growing pains that can make the difference. Trying to limit your growth and stay the same size just to avoid growing pains will not work. Growing pains may be a challenge, but they are also a good thing. Once you learn how to recognize the symptoms you will be able to take the appropriate measures to alleviate them.


William Mahnic
William Mahnic is a Finance Professor at Case Western University and has spent more than 20 years in the finance industry before becoming a professor. Mahnic has appeared as a commentator on both TV and radio talk shows including NPR, Crain's Cleveland Business, WKYC 3 and The Washington Post. He has been interviewed in BusinessWeek, Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times.

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