Growing Pains in a Down Economy


Growing pains - they're a part of life, both in our human bodies and our businesses. In our business, it causes stress, excitement, sleepness nights and very busy days. We are experiencing that now and I recently came across an article that had some great points on managing a growing company in a down economy. The article, written by Professor Edward Hess, a Columbia University Professor, who has a long history of working IN the business world. He listed 3 problems with growth and a 4 step way to deal with them, which he calls the "4 Ps of Growth".

We have experienced growth, our sales have almost doubled year over year. Here are three problems that we have encountered and it so happens to be the same ones that Professor Hess pointed out.

  1. Growth creates new business risks as we wait for new equipment to begin generating income. We recently added a new laser, more powerful and with more capabilities, that was a large investment a few months ago. As of this writing, this laser is being installed and has yet to generate one dollar.
  2. Growth has forced us into the "big leagues" before we're ready. We are now up against larger companies and it is forcing us to learn how to stand up against the competition and learn new ways to do things while keeping our quality and our brand unblemished.
  3. Growth has strained our operations. It has given us challenges for our employees, processes, controls, and management capacities. We have had to take extra precautions to keep from producing products that are not up to our standards and the standards expected by our customers.

If you've been around as long as I have, you remember that Toyota was known for quality and dependablility. Then they wanted to be the market leader in sales and we know what followed... Massive recalls, brakes that didn't work properly, and their brand suffered. We want to make sure that doesn't happen to us, so we are continuing to follow the "4Ps of Growth".

  1. Plan for growth before kicking your strategy into gear. Think about how growth will change what you need to do and think about what growth you need to have to take care of your customers. What new equipment is needed and what employees, processes and controls you need to have in place.
  2. Prioritize what changes or additions to the business have to be made to accommodate your growth. We had to decide which equipment to order, what order to do it in, and who will be the operator.
  3. Processes must be put in place for a bigger business. Professor Hess stated these processes are like dams on a river: if the water starts flowing faster and with more volume, the dams need to be reengineered to handle it.
  4. Pace growth so as not to overwhem yourself, your employees, and your processes. Growth can be exciting but it is almost always stressful. Remember that problems will arise and that you can overcome them because you have planned for them.

What's important to remember is that our goal is not just growth - The goal is creating an organization that is better able to meet your needs. When our organization is better, growth will happen naturally in due course. That's the way to achieve smart growth. Keeping that in mind, my next blog will give you insight into our newest piece of equipment and how it will help us better serve you - our  valued customer. Until then, enjoy your life!