When I was offered my job at BRAVE, there were some very specific areas that needed attention…
Having come from a much bigger agency, I had worked in a much larger team with a lot of moving parts, but strangely enough, I have found that there are three key things that your company, big or small, needs.
Which means that over the last 12 months I have been very busy. Most companies either start off wanting to be a much bigger enterprise or they end up growing at such a fast pace they really didn’t see it coming. Brave is growing, not at an uncontrollable pace just yet so there is still time for us to make sure we have our ducks in a row.I have outlined the three 3 key areas I believe are a good starting point for any small business planning for growth…
1: What’s the plan?
Planning is key to any business throughout its existence.
Every successful business should have a business plan that is regularly reviewed, and that identifies strategies on a regular basis to help with its growth.
The challenge I’ve found when you are a small business, is that defined roles are often difficult, and finding time to sit down and focus on your plan can be sidelined and put at the bottom of a long list of other “important” things to do. We have had to learn our core responsibilities, but also when to let go and delegate to other team members.
It takes a mix of organisation, a good team and a scalable infrastructure to keep a business growing without losing focus.
When you start scaling your business, you must have an idea of where you are, where you want to be and how you are going to get there.
I’ve spent a large amount of time understanding where our business is. How much money are we making, how much money is going out of the business, and what processes we need to institute or change. Some serious financial housekeeping has been underway to consolidate and streamline our costs.
From what I’ve learned, to grow your any business you need to know where you want to be tomorrow, in a year, 3 years from now and 10 years from now. A solid plan will always have the end in mind. We have always wanted to have some sort of team that functions as an incubator for ideas that we are passionate about or could turn into a key revenue stream, but have in the past struggled to focus on this due to lack of resources and funds and a focus on a plan.
Getting everyone involved in the bigger plan has helped us to give renewed energy and focus to this, and in the next few weeks we will be holding our own game “jam” session over a weekend with the intention of brainstorming and building a game in 48 hours.
Which brings me to the second key area…
2: A trusty Comrade is always of use
We’ve also needed to get the right people on our team.
When you have a very small business, you have a very defined culture. To find the right people to fit the culture and to fit our ethos of being a lifestyle business, which allows for balance between work and home, you absolutely need a good hiring strategy.
Using peer-to-peer networks and creating relationships with industry leaders have been a very good way to grow our team with the right resources and keep hiring and turnover costs down.
The monthly Drupal meet up we host at our offices has been a particularly good source of finding the right people, and has also led to some exciting business opportunities. So the lesson is, get involved in your industry, get out there. You might be amazed at the like-minded folks you encounter.
One of the biggest lessons for me has been that you also cannot build a business around one person, you need to get the right people to help you to meet your goals and achieve your plan, but as you grow, you have more personalities and styles to consider and make allowances for.
A floating model of being in the office during core hours and not fixating on a start and end time has really helped foster the culture we want to see in our business.
3: Infrastructure – it’s worth investing in it
I’ve definitely seen that, once your business starts growing, your software requirements grow.
HR and Accounting management grows. Your training needs grow. This list of things you need grows. You may need new office space (we are starting to get a little claustrophobic in our current space), new equipment and increased server management.
Specifically, in a technology based industry, we have had to scale up on tools that assist with creating the best tech and also getting the best from our team. We have recently invested in scrum methodology coaching and business coaching to streamline our processes so that we can grow in the most efficient way.
Our team also has access to Coursera and Lynda.com so that they can continue their own personal growth in their own time.
And the growing continues…