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5 pain points of a growing business
Your company is expanding — here’s what you need to watch out for
When you start a business, you nurture and build on it until it gets up and running. In the process, you develop a team and culture that often acts as a second family. Everything is going great numbers-wise, but then you suddenly realize the culture has changed right under your nose or you have operational difficulties running the business as the volume of sales increases.
These are the so-called “problems of scale” that many entrepreneurs encounter as their business grows. Even with successful growth, there will always be glitches. Though some might call them good problems to have, if left unaddressed, these seemingly small pain points can escalate into major roadblocks to your continued success.
What you can learn from identifying customer pain points
As your company grows, there will be two different types of pain points you will need to identify and address: your company pain points and your customer pain points. To ensure you can scale your business successfully, you must dig deep into your customers’ lives to see what they are struggling with. It’s only when you identify their pain points that you can develop products or services that address those issues and turn them into raving fans of your company.
The process of identifying customer pain points is not a one-time endeavor, either. As your company grows and your products or services change or expand, you must continue to keep your finger on your customers’ pulses to make sure you’re addressing their problems. Here are some questions you can ask your customers to help identify their greatest pain points:
- What’s the biggest challenge you’re currently facing?
- What has prevented you from overcoming this challenge?
- Would a product or service that is or is not currently available help you solve that challenge?
- What takes up the most time in your day?
- What roadblocks do you have that are keeping you from achieving your top two business goals?
When you ask open-ended questions such as these and deeply listen to the answers, you can identify the pain points that will help you innovate better products and services and successfully grow your business. It will also help you learn which questions to ask yourself and your internal staff to identify your own business pain points.
Identifying your business pain points
Every business encounters unique chokeholds, but these are the five most common business pain points to look out for and effective solutions for overcoming them.
1. Process or systems problems
One of the most common pain points of a rapidly growing business is infrastructure. The systems and processes that worked to manage 10 employees more than likely will not work to manage the 30, 50 or 100 employees that will be needed in a growing business. As rapid growth occurs, the seemingly functional systems that were originally in place are no longer able to cut it. New systems must be created and implemented.
New management resources can be an effective solution to this pain point as most entrepreneurs realize they can no longer handle everything on their own. By bringing in a CFO, adding some human resource managers and turning over control to others who can specialize in certain areas, you can free yourself to focus on growth and development. Issues with a growing business can often be attributed to control issues stemming from the leadership team, so you can avoid these common pain points by hiring and delegating.
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2. Innovation problems
Innovation is key to the success of a new business and most entrepreneurs do this enthusiastically during the start-up phase. However, once they are at the helm of a growing business, they sometimes stop focusing on what they can do new and different and fall into a rut. This leads to a variety of pain points including stagnation, lack of enthusiasm from the team and the danger of disruption or a competitor taking over their market share.
The key to creating a sustainable business is to continue reevaluating the needs of your customers and tweaking your product or service as time passes. Your product or service might have been perfect for customers when you first started selling it, but how does it meet the needs of your customers six months, one year and five years down the road? Not anticipating the future needs of customers is one of the common pain points for businesses transitioning from the start-up to the growth phase.
Not only do you as a leader have to keep being innovative, but you also have to inspire and cultivate innovation in your team. You can do this by being constantly open to change, by embodying the core values of your company and understanding that setbacks lead to successes that will fuel your continued growth.
3. Cultural problems
Internal organizational culture sets the tone for the entire organization – how your employees treat each other is also reflected in how you treat your customers, shareholders and everyone in your sphere of influence. When the internal culture is struggling in your growing business, you cannot hide it; it will be revealed in one way or another.
As your company grows and you bring in more people, processes change and innovation suffers as we’ve seen in the previously discussed pain points. As this occurs, you might begin to notice a change in the disposition of your original employees. They may lack some of their initial spark or enthusiasm, or worse, become cliquey if they feel the workplace is being infiltrated by threatening “strangers.” Previously engaged and positive team members can turn toxic and start infecting others with their negativity. Why? Because their feeling of significance decreases and they now have to adjust to new processes. This can feel uncomfortable or can go against their initial vision of their role. As a result, internal team conflicts, bad attitudes and an overall unhealthy culture can form if the issue isn’t addressed early on.
So how do you transform your culture and overcome team pain points? One of the keys to managing business pain points regarding company culture is to make sure your purpose as a company is always front and center. When everyone is committed to a larger purpose, they’re less likely to feel threatened by new team members as they know everyone is rowing in the same direction. Purpose can start to be overlooked as a growing business shifts and expands and this can lead to bad hires and the confusion of those who have been on board since day one. When you make sure that purpose is always at the core of what you do, you’ll avoid cultural pain points and set yourself up for successful growth.
4. Lack of capital
It can be easy to underestimate how much capital it takes to start and grow your business. In fact, insufficient capital is one of the most common business pain points for new companies and what puts many of them out of business. Not only do you need an initial infusion of capital to start your business, but you always need to have an additional source at the ready should it be needed. This can come in the form of money saved in the bank, a line of credit, a small business loan or an investor.
Continually finding a way to increase profits is the best way to address financial pain points, but you also need a back-up plan should you need it. In addition to increasing profits and finding other streams of capital, you also need to watch your expenses. When you try to scale too quickly, you can overspend on infrastructure such as staffing and equipment and find yourself in trouble when sales are down. Do your best to scale mindfully by outsourcing or having a cross-functional team that can be flexible in your early years of growth.
5. Marketing problems
Every new business owner knows they need to market their business to get clients or customers, but one of the common pain points in this area is not having a big budget to pay for effective marketing campaigns. How do you compete with larger companies when you have a small budget? Fortunately, there are low-cost marketing options that can be very effective when implemented correctly. When you take the time to identify customer pain points, you can develop buyer personas and market directly to them, which is less expensive than marketing to the general public. You can target them with content marketing strategies, social media ad campaigns and email marketing. You can also leverage customer testimonials or reviews and even tap into influencer marketing to reach those who are likely to become your customers.
Processes, innovation, cultural problems, lack of capital and marketing are all pain points of scale. With a growing company, these are some of the most common business pain points that arise. But these problems can often be anticipated and avoided altogether if you know where you are in the lifecycle of your business and you put proactive measures in place to address them before you reach crisis level. Working with a business coach is another effective way to identify and address business pain points. When you work with a Tony Robbins Business Results Coach, you tap into the best minds in the business who can help you develop the strategies you need for success.
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