SEO is awesome when it comes to growing your business — but sudden growth can make your business a lot more complicated. To keep your company going strong into the future, you just need to adapt.
But adaptation covers a lot of different ideas, and all of them are important to keeping your business at the top of its game.
1. Set goals months (or years) ahead of time
When your business grows, it may experience growing pains. These growing pains can be complications in any part of your company, including your finances, priorities, culture, and even employee morale. As a result, you have to change your business based on having more than you had before.
One way to minimize growing pains is to plan ahead as confidently as you can. While you can’t always gauge exactly where you’ll be in 20 years, you can at least set certain goals based on financial and growth projections.
You can also include plans based on the goals you have for your company. Do you want to expand to a new location by a certain date? Do you want to have a certain number of employees before your next busy season? Setting those big-picture goals in advance means you can plan for how they’ll affect your business so you’re not stuck scrambling with last-minute solutions when you need to take action.
Tools to help
Google Calendar is a great way to keep yourself organized, especially for long-term goals. Considering it allows you to plan centuries in advance, you can rest assured that you’ll never forget another plan again. You can even configure your calendar to remind you of important items on your Gmail account so you’re sure to remember what you need when you need it.
There are a couple caveats to Google Calendar, but they’re small. Just don’t create more than 10,000 events or 25 new calendars in a short amount of time and you should be fine. It’s also helpful if everyone in your company has a Google account so you don’t have to worry about the spam limit when you’re inviting guests to events (~300 people).
2. Tweak your operations as you grow
There’s one unfortunate fact about growing companies: Big corporations don’t work like small businesses.
When you first start a business, you can run it by yourself with a couple of friends from your garage if you want. But when you get bigger, you have to change based on the fact that you’re hiring new people. And the more people you hire, the fewer you’ll know personally.
Along with that, big businesses have to be more bureaucratic to keep up with their inner workings. Human resources, legal teams, new departments, chains of command — you need to develop all of them to forge the infrastructure your business needs to stand. Otherwise, it’ll collapse under its own weight.
Ways to adapt your operations
In a nutshell, try new things. Your established methodology for pleasing your customers has clearly worked, but you can’t rest on your laurels. If you’re not improving, then you’re stagnating. And if you’re stagnating, then you’re just one step away from regressing. The last thing any growing business wants to do is shrink.
The idea of “trying new things” extends to a lot of different properties in business. Try new shipping methods, implementation methods, designs, products, managers, managing styles, employee benefits, and whatever else you want to do. The worst that’ll happen is that you need to go back to your old way — which is already proven to work for the time being — so you might as well take the chance!
3. Listen to your customers
When you have a product that your customers love, you could try selling the same product over and over with no changes.
That might make money (for now), but you’re limiting your company’s potential.
Instead, listen to your customers. They’re the people who experience your product the most, which makes them the best possible critics you could have. If you notice lots of customers asking for the same features or changes, there’s a really good chance your other customers want them too.
So change it up. Take their suggestions, talk to your product developers, and see what they can do. Even if it’ll take three years to implement, you can still tell your customers that the feature is in the pipeline — and that says a lot more than nothing at all.
How to get customer feedback
Ask for it and provide a simple, streamlined way for customers to give it.
A quick contact field asking for the customer’s name, email address, and comments is all it takes. You can stick a form field on your website’s homepage, your own product (if you sell software), or anywhere else someone might see it. A simple form only takes developers a couple minutes to set up, and it’ll take your customers a few seconds to fill out. Then you have an unlimited supply of product suggestions for the future.
4. Hire better than your competition
If you want to gain (and keep) an edge over your competition, you need to hire better than they do. That means finding the best minds in your industry and securing them for your company to fuel forward momentum.
There’s a simple formula for hiring high-quality people for your company:
- Create personality and skill profiles of ideal candidates for different jobs
- Create concise, informative job descriptions
- Post your description on services your ideal candidate would use (Indeed, Monster, etc.)
- Evaluate candidates’ social media profiles
- Screen candidates by phone
- Schedule in-face interviews
- Contact candidates’ references
- Make your offer
It’s not rocket science —that’s the beauty of it. This process is designed to fit into any company’s hiring standards, and it helps you find the best of the best.
And when you hear from the best of the best, you need to give them reasons to work for you.
These reasons can include salary, benefits, on-site perks, and your past track record of success. As a growing business, you can probably meet all of those standards pretty easily. And when you do, you’ll have the best people in the industry moving your company forward!
Tools to find the best hires
Social media is one of the best free tools to use to vet your new hires. People show their true colors on their Facebook and Twitter accounts. If someone interviews well, but their social media is cluttered with complaints about their job or excessive negativity, you can bet they’ll bring that same attitude to work every day.
You can also use traditional background checks, which are used in practically every business these days. If you don’t want to shell out for a background check every time you have a potential hire, you can use free resources to keep your costs down. These resources can include government databases, like Pennsylvania’s unified court system where you can look up reports of people’s criminal histories for free.
Your state may not have an open-docket policy like Pennsylvania, but you can easily find free background information in state-sponsored (or news-related) sources by Googling your applicant’s name and hometown.
5. Listen to your employees
After you have the best employees, you also have a huge resource to make improvements to your business. You’ve already hired some of the brightest minds in your industry, and they’re going to have a lot of ideas. The best thing you can do for yourself (and them) is to listen.
That doesn’t mean you have to take every suggestion they have. In fact, there may be situations where you’ll know better than your employees because you have more experience, plus the vision for your company’s future.
Still, it’s critical to hear what employees have to say. It makes you more accessible, approachable, and understandable. And who knows, someone might have the next big idea that helps your business grow even more!
How to listen well
Every business journal has a different set of tips on how you can be a good listener and a good boss.
It basically boils down to two factors:
- If you don’t like what someone says, turn them down gracefully.
- If you do like what someone says, give them credit for the idea.
Graceful denial is a science. It requires you to allow someone to explain themselves, turn them down respectfully, and state the reason. Whether you want to say something like “I don’t think that’s a good fit for us right now” or “Figure out how we can make it work with X, Y, and Z” or another reason is up to you.
Crediting someone for good ideas is equally important — if not more. Employees like knowing that they’ve done good work, and giving them credit on a company-wide scale is the perfect way to make them feel appreciated. And if you trust them, you can even let them take the helm of the project they suggest and develop it from scratch.
6. Reward the employees who stick with you
If you want to keep the best people on your team for as long as possible, you need to reward them for their hard work and contributions. You can do this with a couple different techniques, but the best one is clear:
Promote from within.
That means when you hire a new employee, you hire them at the entry level and they have to work their way to more advanced positions — just like everyone else. Promoting from the inside is also a great way to keep your employees connected and supporting one another. The people you promote will already have existing relationships with your other employees. And in healthy work environments, that means better teamwork and happier employees.
Hiring from the outside for upper-level positions can hurt your employees’ morale by showing them that you don’t fully appreciate what they’ve done. This is especially true if someone has worked for you for years and has expressed their interest in a position, but you choose an unknown outsider over them.
You can also reward loyal employees with generous raises, benefit options, bonus vacation, or even something simple like a quick thank-you note. Every employee is different, and that means they like to be appreciated in different ways. Find out what they like and use it to make them happy!
How to effectively reward your employees
While there are some good ideas above, the best way to reward your employees is to ask them how they like to be rewarded. Create a short survey on Google Forms and send them the link. After a few days, check the results and take notes on what they say.
Then, you just need to follow through. If an employee wants more face-time with you, invite them to coffee some morning. If an employee is motivated through money, talk about financial incentives to improve their performance. And if they want a promotion, give them clear, concise guidelines on how to earn it.
Adapt to your success
When your business is growing, you want it to keep growing. You can make sure that happens by continually adapting to your success. All of these strategies are designed to help you do that, and they’ll even help you succeed more.
What techniques have you used to adapt to your growing business? Were they successful? Let me know in the comments!