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How Success Could be Hurting Your Small Business

Preface:

This article might seem a bit strange coming on the heels of 2020, but that’s precisely why we’ve decided to run it. If there has been too much of anything lately it has been endless struggle. However, as we approach the tail end (hopefully) of this pandemic we, as small business owners, have opportunity on the horizon.


Many industries have seen their competition shrink because of things like government shutdowns etc. For those who are still fighting their way through this mess this means that there is market share ripe for the taking. Your competitor’s customers will need somewhere to go, let’s make sure that YOU’RE who they choose.


Which leads us to the article below. You must be mindful to capitalize on market share without sacrifice.


-Ryan, Owner

Out of the Box Advisors

 

As a small business, is there such a thing as "too much" success? After all, your goal is to grow, so it seems counter-intuitive that you could have so much success that your business suffers. Believe it or not, it’s actually a quite common conundrum for small businesses.


If you are not able to adapt quickly in response to growth, your business could end up taking a significant step backward. As you bring on new customers you may end up not meeting the expectations you set for them. Existing customers may lose faith in your ability to deliver despite years of reliability.


Your small business’ success requires you to keep on pace with increased demand. Let's look at how success can be hurting your small business and how you can meet these challenges.

 

Unable to Effectively Take on New Clients


If you are growing rapidly, you may reach a point where you cannot take on new clients because you simply don't have the staff to manage the work. This all comes down to capacity to deliver. As you sell your product or service at an ever-increasing rate the threat of diminished quality runs in parallel.

Your ability to provide quality service for your customer base directly translates into your ability to maintain that customer base. If a competitor runs aground and you begin taking on their customers, you must ensure that you service them at least to the quality level they were accustomed to. If not, this sudden influx of sales could permanently tarnish your reputation via online reviews etc.


It is extremely important to recognize and scale your staff as needed to meet demand. Your small business strategy should include having plans to onboard new employees and give them time to get up to speed. Also, ensure that you calculate the time-to-effectiveness (TTE) for your specific needs. The higher skilled the employee, the earlier you need to trigger your capacity building strategy.


Relatedly, it is recommended that you tie your hiring strategy to objective, measurable data points. As a simplified example, if you operate a service-based business you may want to tie your hiring to something like Active Customer Count. For every 10 services per day, you’ll need one technician for example.



It is a fine line between over-staffed and under-staffed. Of course, you want your staff not to have downtime, but when they cross the threshold into "overwhelmed," it can quickly deplete morale. Have discussions with your staff about their bandwidth so you can assess when you may need to hire.



Inefficient Business Processes


If your staff are spending a lot of time on manual processes or multiple systems, it stands to reason that they aren't as productive as they could be. It is also obvious that an increase in workload will only exacerbate this problem. As you grow, you can take a close look at the tasks your employees are asked to perform along with the systems used.


1. Do tasks still make sense, can they be eliminated, can they be modified?

Example: Are you still scheduling your services in outlook or google? While those tools work great early on, as you become more successful, they often start causing more harm than good. Perhaps it is time to look for a scheduler system that offers up some automation or route planning functions?


2. Do roles need to be redefined?

Success will undoubtedly lead to your phone ringing more often. If, for example, your receptionist also posts on Facebook or plans events, then likely one of those sub-tasks will suffer since more time will be allocated to answering calls. Splitting out those tasks to new positions could be a solution.