I know what you’re thinking, “Cherie … are you seriously blogging about how to deal with your business’ rapid growth smack bang in the middle of a global economic crisis?”.
Yes I am.
Because the thing is TDP began seriously growing mid-2019’ish > then progressed into rapid growth [it sounds amazing, but believe me … it’s hectic], and we were then at the very peak of our rapid growth in the x6’ish months before CV-19, and jay-sus I learnt a lot [a lot] during that time especially. Too much to share in this one blog post if I’m being honest, but I’ll have a little crack at some of the main points I want to be able to get across.
Y’see if it was you who was on that growth trajectory pre CV-19, or if you’ve been working towards a growth trajectory of some sort … I’m here to tell you that you have a beautiful opportunity in the short-term [slightly more] quiet we all have now to think [really think] about how you’ll ensure that you scale for success.
Because what I learnt from TDP’s rapid growth journey is that everyone focuses on a small business making its way through the early years startup hustle [and zilch cash flow], and no denying it … those years are hard, but I’ve gotta be honest, they are nothing compared to the challenges that come from your growth [or rapid growth] years [kinda like when I thought newborns were hard, and then bang … 9 YEARS OLD. Take me the feck back to that newborn, ha!].
I’m here tonight to walk you through the things I learnt during our rapid growth era, because during the CV-19 “quiet”, I’ve been genuinely bunkering down and working with our MD to do a little [big] post-rapid growth systems and processes catch up.
[disclaimer: I’ve not implemented any systems or processes, it’s not my strength and very-much-so why she holds MD title, and not me. But I’ve absolutely made all o’ the requests for the things I wanna see continuing to improve once we make our post-COVID comeback, ha!].
So, let’s drill down to all o’ the things you’ll want to be across if you want to be able to cope with your business’ rapid growth;
FIRST AND FOREMOST? … UNDERSTAND THE CAUSE OF GROWTH
Makes sense, doesn’t it?
But there are so many businesses who are in the midst of rapid growth, with no real understanding of what’s brought on that rapid growth, i.e is it the gun hire? Is it a particular product that’s significantly more profitable than another? Is it a particular service you offer? And are you surprised to learn that the service you thought was profitable [and keeps you and your team the busiest] is actually the least profitable?
You get the gist, right?
We track everything at TDP.
We track team productivity [we have particular positions that have to hit 80% else we have some productivity concerns within the role, as an example. This is then tracked – and reported on – monthly by our MD]. If there are concerns [guys? There never are], we’d then have open comms about this, and we’d be working to find a solution to ensure that person is able to hit the 80% we require in order for that role to be viable.
Additionally, we track profitability [this relates to our social media management and performance marketing offerings]. If a client dips into non-profitability [it’s usually always community management that we might have underquoted on in their original retainer, or a higher frequency of client comms than we were anticipating], then we need to have an open conversation with them and review their retainer to ensure it’s something that works for all parties, i.e we’re profitable > so that we can then continue to do the work for them that helps to make them profitable.
Finally, we then meet with our Accountant / Business Advisor at the end of each month to regularly review what’s basically contributing to our growth … as well as what’s hindering it.
Yep. We’ve lived through experiences that have hindered our growth, too.
KEEP CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE A PRIORITY
I’m a schtickler for this, honestly.
Like, I annoy my own self with how obsessed I am with good customer service, and I’mma call it … there’d be times where I’d probably do my team’s head in with my customer-almost-always-right approach, because even if they’re wrong? I kill em’ with kindness [the same way I was taught to do when I was 14 years old + 9 months at McDonalds].
The bigger the arsehole? The more kindness I kill them with, ha!
Our customer experience? An always priority, and our exchanges with our customers? They’re empathetic, and generous, and humorous, and intelligent, and filled with the power combo of IQ-meets-EQ.
If it’s anything other than that? … I’m eye twitch’n, and looking to improve the process.
Now in saying all o’ that? When rapid growth happens, this is the thing that can take the [big] hit, and that’s absolutely happened to us before: one person on our exploding customer service inbox [who was – at the time – managing another entirely big role], slower response times than you’d like, quicker responses [and less of the aforementioned empathy, or generosity, or humorous etc.].
When I saw that happening, I realised [and very quickly] that a customer service position was a new full-time role we’d be needing, and so we hired for that role.
You’ll never regret investing in your customer’s exceptional customer service experience with your business, believe me.
CHOOSE YOUR TEAM WISELY
And so on that? If you’re growing? Choose wisely.
I’ve been really fortunate, we genuinely continue to land on our feet in the most exceptional way when it’s come to the hires we’ve made. I wish I could tell you how or why, but we continue to hire unicorns … and believe me when I say this, I know how lucky I am.
The reason why I know how lucky I am? … because I’ve also experienced the hire that just-hasn’t-worked-out. One in particular really did a number on me. I leant in to every-single-tool I had in my leadership tool belt, and no matter what I tried? It just didn’t … translate.
I tossed. I turned. I lost so much sleep. I sat in bed, heart pounding wondering what the f*ck I could do to help this person. And sometimes? My alarm would go off at 6am, and I’d legitimately only [finally] fallen asleep at 5am just … stewing over this person.
[jay-sus. I’ll never forget the all-night-stewing, lol!].
So many GD nights of stewing, and thinking, and brainstorming, and wanting to help, and wanting to be able to turn that situation around … and reflect back on when that particular person had felt like a “challenge”, but had gone on to become an incredible asset.
The final “give up” moment for me? It was when this particular person was offered something from me [and us here at TDP] that was incredibly generous … and then twisted that to another person [who was a mutual friend, so of course it made its way back to me]. It painted me [and TDP] in the most horrible light, and I’ll be honest, the wind left my lungs. Mostly from the disappointment, and the utter bloody dishonesty … but also because it brought a crashing realisation home to me: you can try [so f*cking hard] with some people, and it still won’t work, and it’s not because you’re sh*t … but because they don’t deserve to be on your team.
Weirdly for me, that people-manage’y break was both devastating [and also one of the best things to happen to me].
So guys? I can’t bring this one home enough: know your company values, know your personal values, and ensure that every time you hire? … you’re bringing humans who match all o’ the company values, and – to a very small degree – some o’ the personal values you have, too [e.g I can’t handle bad manners, and am always obsessed with the candidates who email you post-interview and thank you for your time etc. Those kinda good manners just light my soul on fire. Good fire].
[I say “to a small degree” on the personal values front, because it’s my humble opinion that what makes a good workplace? … diversity, and right down to a diverse range of personal values > pulling together > to make quite the formidable team-slash-workplace]. And so yep, sure, I’ll flippin’ love a well-mannered interview candidate who thanks us after their job interview, because good manners get me high, but I’m big enough to know that I’m lookin’ for an eclectic personal values mix to continue to make TDP what it is: formidable, and diverse.
CAREFULLY MEASURE YOUR STAFFING NEEDS
No point hiring [and destroying a person’s morale] for a role that ain’t a full one.
Or if you’re doing that [i.e hiring before the role is full], because you’re predicting the growth will be in that role with the right person in that seat, be clear about that [probably best in the interview, too], i.e “this role isn’t full yet, but that’s because we’re investing in a go-getter to work with the early signs of growth we’re seeing in this department … and turning them into a full-time opportunity”.
I’m so proud of the way in which I’m developing here, i.e there are things I want at TDP, and roles I want at TDP, but I realistically know it isn’t a full position yet … and so I instead wait until it is.
BE OPEN TO ADAPTING
It’s my humble opinion that the most adaptable business owners, are the business owners who enjoy growth [and rapid growth].
Look at this climate, for example.
In the first 4’ish weeks, we were hurt. Just like every other COVID-impacted business. And then we went and did what we do best, and we displayed the kinda adaptability that TDP is renowned for [and that I know I have in every team member we’re fortunate enough to employ at TDP], and thanks to that adaptability? … we’re experiencing a new wave of growth.
I chalk so much of TDP’s good stuff up to our absolute ability to be adaptable, and I’m here to tell you that you should give adaptability a red hot go: I bet it’ll look bluddy amazing on your business.
FIND A GOOD MENTOR
And then finally? … you can’t do it alone, or if you try? You’ll send yourself crazy trying.
Remember that challenging hire I talked about earlier? … it was a mentor I’d invested in who listened and said, “Cherie? You’ve shown patience beyond what most would show, and you’ve legitimately dipped into a leadership tool belt that this person is fortunate to experience within their workplace. It’s absolutely ok to recognise that not every hire can work out, simple as that”.
T’was the permission I needed, honestly.
[I can whole-heartedly say I’d have soldiered on for another empathy-fuelled mofo’ing year].
I invest in mentors, big time. And always in the areas that are deficit areas to me: finances, HR, leadership [I actually think leadership is a strength area of mine, but I commit to being mentored in this space so that I can *always* be better] … you get the gist.
I’m here to say that you will not cope with your own rapid growth, without similarly investing in mentors [and good ones].
What do you think guys?
Have I missed anything obvious?
What extra pieces of 24 carat gold would you add in the comments section below?
If you are into this topic, you can watch our latest IGTV here that addresses it even more.