I recall being in my early teens and having to cease playing football due to falling prey to the Osgood-Schlatter Disease – a disease that often occurs from growth spurts when muscles, bones and tendons are experiencing a rapidity of change. Pulling back from strenuous activity, rest and exercise were the measures I had to put in place at the time for my body to cope with the growth.
I meet with many business owners and managers who are experiencing growth spurts in their organisations. A constant stream of work and its correlated demands pour in the front end pushing their revenues/sales up significantly. They take on more work and as a result have to feed that front end demand with extra people, plant and equipment and so forth. While these are exciting phases to be in, the growing pains can be significant and I have seen firsthand the effects that some these periods cause. Some of these have been:
- Disgruntled customers
- Unhappy staff who are stretched to breaking point
- Personal exhaustion of the business owner
- Cashflow being smashed
- Running well behind schedule
- Going into liquidation
My recommendation is that if you are in a growth phase or know one is potentially on the horizon, that you give equal attention in your planning to both the front end and back end. While you resource the front end growth, give strong consideration to what is required to support that growth – people, managerial processes, systems, cashflow management, your own personal rest requirements etc.
My personal growth pains in my knees couldn’t be planned for but business is different. It’s much better to take a small hit on profit to resource the back end than to boost sales and go out of business altogether.