Businesses entering high-growth phases are faced with an entirely new set of challenges, as the owner of one rapidly growing Brisbane firm has discovered.
SponsoredLinX founder and CEO Ben Bradshaw told My Business that while rapid growth in his business has been an exciting journey, it is not without its challenges.
The company has increased its workforce by 60 per cent in just over six months, taking it to 160 employees.
“There are two primary ways of running a business: to focus on revenue growth or to maximise profit. Right now we have shifted gears and are reinvesting our profit to maximise our future organic revenue growth,” Mr Bradshaw explained.
“Over the last 11 years, we’ve really developed all our systems so it’s not a really big gamble to go for fast growth.”
According to Mr Bradshaw, business growth tracks in cycles, and the size of the investment in a growth upswing will determine the size of that upswing.
“Growth happens in cycles in a way; in my experience, what you’ve got to have a push now – that’s what we’re doing, to resource everything that we need and iron out of all the kinks and get the processes right,” he said.
“With all that, there [are] a few headaches, teething issues, but once you get all that through and you’ve got those new divisions there, we can fill those shoes, so to speak.”
Of course, such a substantial increase in headcount in just six months brings its own share of challenges. While Mr Bradshaw said that being an established, cash flow positive business with no debt, the financial cost of adding staff has had less of an impact on the business than the issue of physical space.
“We’ve had some huge challenges around that. I don’t have an office anymore – they got rid of my office because we had to put the admin team in there. We got rid of one of our boardroom tables and we have the web development team in there now. We’ve just absolutely maximised the building we’re in, and we’ve had to have several meetings throughout the year to figure out how we can keep operating in the space we’re in,” said Mr Bradshaw.
“Our whole head office has to move in January [despite being] still on a lease until the end of next year. So we have to now sublease the building we’re in. But it’s all for the greater good, essentially.”
Another challenge has been simply finding many skilled people at once, and ensuring that only the right people get hired.
“It’s important we have really good HR processes in place and, first of all, recruitment processes so we do bring in the right people to begin with … staff churn is so detrimental to our business,” he said, adding this involved a three-fold increase in the number of HR staff to facilitate.
The final great challenge of rapid growth, Mr Bradshaw said, is around maintaining the existing workplace culture and ensuring the needs and contributions of existing staff are not lost amid the influx of new faces.
“That is definitely a concern for us and we are really aware of that impact. When you’ve got more bodies in the area, it gets quite squashed,” he said.
“But it’s also positive. When you get fresh blood in the business, it brings with it excitement, and when a company is growing at the rate we’re growing at, there’s a buzz in the room – you can feel it.”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.