The challenges of business growth and how to meet them head on

All business owners, regardless of their industry or the products and services they provide, have aspirations of business growth. After all, a stagnant business that doesn’t strive to grow and develop is often one that is set to fail. With growth comes bigger opportunities, increased output, a larger volume of customers and greater profits. But it doesn’t come without its challenges.

This was a topic that sparked a vibrant discussion amongst our guests at our latest roundtable event, which focused on strategies for managing growth in business. Our guests all hold senior roles within their respective organisations and their knowledge and understanding of how to successfully manage business growth is second to none. In this blog, we are going to share our guest's thoughts, as shared during our event, on what they feel are the biggest challenges faced by businesses striving for growth.

The war on talent

 The skills shortage has become one of the biggest challenges faced by businesses in recent years, with 70% of small businesses struggling to find and retain talent as a result. This understandably causes a stunt to their growth because they aren’t able to find the right employees with the skills they need to develop their products and services and expand their teams.

This war on talent has spread through all industries in the UK in one way or another and it’s not showing any sign of stopping any time soon. So if business owners want their business to grow, they need to stand out when it comes to attracting and retaining talent.

There are a number of ways that this can be achieved. Today’s employer value personal development and flexibility when looking for new careers so make sure these are things that you offer. Make sure you speak often and openly about career advancements within your business and encourage your employees to go up for promotions and additional training.

Also, find ways to give your employees the freedom to work flexibly from home whenever possible and be understanding towards them whenever they face a personal crisis.

Financial management

Effective financial management is something that doesn’t come easy to us all. Even though you might have a business head, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a whizz when it comes to balancing the books. One of the biggest challenge faced by many business owners is finding the cash they need to underpin their expansion plans, while also ensuring that other areas of their business don’t suffer in the meantime.

To overcome this, business owners need to invest in more effective financial management measures and be committed to saving money where possible. This can be done by installing financial software, hiring or outsourcing an accountant or making plans for future expansion with the help of a financial advisor. Working with your suppliers to reduce delivery or manufacturing costs or switching to a new supplier altogether could be another option.

There is also the option of pitching your growth plans to outside investors in order to gain the equity you need to find your planned expansion. However, any investor worth their salt will need thorough plans and financial records to assess before giving financial backing to anyone. So make sure you have these prepared before approaching anyone.

Having a better handle on your finances now can ensure that you don’t have to pass up promising opportunities that could aid your growth due to lack of resource or funding.

Keeping up with the market

It’s likely that when you set up your business, you did plenty of market research to learn more about your competitors and the landscape of your industry. It no doubt helped you make some key decisions that enabled your business to get off the ground. But how old is this market research? 12 months old? 5 years old? A decade old?

As business conditions change continually, so does information about the market. So if you aren’t doing continual market research that allows you to stay to up to date, you run the risk of making key business decisions based on information that is outdated or no longer correct. This ultimately will stop your business from progressing and allows your competitors to overtake you, making securing sales and customers a major challenge. If you can’t overcome this, your business is destined to fail.

However, despite its importance, many business owners struggle to know where to find this valuable information and how to fit the research process into their busy schedules.

If you’re currently faced with this problem, there are several things you can do to get yourself back up to speed with the market without letting other areas of your business fall. You can gain vital market information from your suppliers, business partners and clients, so take the time to talk to schedule short catch-ups with them each month. Your employees can also be a vital source of information about your customers and how the market is changing so also get them involved in these regular conversations. You can also update your IT systems or outsource a freelance researcher to help you collect and analyse information about your customer's preferences and purchasing behaviours, which can also save a great deal of time.

Being able to recognise and understand how to overcome these common challenges will be essential if you want your business to continue growing and thriving for years to come. The simple yet most effective method of meeting these challenges head-on is through thorough planning. Now you know what challenges are likely to be coming your way, you can plan for every eventuality and give yourself a much-needed head start to handle them as swiftly as possible if needed.

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Richard Archer

7th September

Industry Insight