We all know that a business without much business, that is sales, usually sails slowly into the abyss. In some scenarios, a lack of sales starts a fantastic slide into oblivion quickly, causing the organization to grind to an abrupt halt. Regardless if it’s a slow bleed to death or a rapid demise, the end results are the same. This is what most first-time entrepreneurs know and fear, which is why they put all their resources into an astonishing effort in a race to success.
While this scenario is certainly common and there are countless examples of companies wanting to dissolution, there’s another situation which can manifest and cause the same outcome — too much business.
Why Too Much Business is Bad for Business
Sure, it’s paradoxical, but nonetheless true: too much business, too many sales, is bad for business. It’s a strange phenomenon, but, it can’t be allowed to become a reality. When a business grows too fast, it runs the risk of outpacing its own abilities and that can cause customers to be shortchanged and to outpace the businesses capital resources. That’s nothing short of a disaster waiting to unleash itself, sabotaging a company from the inside.
Incremental change rather than big splashy launches? Caution rather than risk? That may not sound like the profile we’ve come to associate with entrepreneurs, but it’s exactly this somewhat paradoxical mix of creativity and innovation combined with restraint, regulation and caution that is driving the next phase of [the country’s] business growth. The culture of prudence that has sometimes led [the country] to be seen as an economic lightweight has, in these tough economic times, proven to be our greatest asset. –Ivey Buiness Journal
A company can’t overreach or it will be overwhelmed. We’ve all seen the real world effects when Fortune 500 companies rush a product to market. The Sony Betamax, New Coke, the Apple Newton PDA, and Facebook Home are some of the most high profile product failures. These demonstrate that not every new product will work, and, show that even large companies can make huge marketing mistakes. These major brands, though, can push through such bad experiences because they have the capital, brand recognition, and diversification. For a small to medium-sized business, this usually isn’t the case and there are real dangers in growing a company’s sales too large, too quickly because:
Your team members can’t keep-up with the demand. While it’s great to see a steep increase in sales, that means having to meet the demand. If your team isn’t large enough, you’ll probably opt to squeeze more out from each employee. Quality will suffer as a result and when you sacrifice quantity for quality, you’re doing your customers and company a disservice.
You rush through the hiring process. Another option you might exercise is to bring on new team members. The problem with this is, in an environment where there’s not enough hands-on-deck, you’ll have to expedite your hiring process. This can easily lead to bringing people on-board without the proper skill-set, attitude, or work ethic. So, you’ll have to suffer the pain of replacing employees and incur the expense of additional training.
You need additional tools to sustain output. The tools of the trade are hugely important to providing quality work. When there’s a hurry to get things done, you might not have enough at your disposal. The remedy will probably be impulse purchases and that means heavily risking buyer’s remorse.
You can’t effectively manage the company. Every successful business owner knows that it takes time to find and mentor good organizational leaders. This will become unavoidably apparent when there’s too much going on for your personal attention to all the moving parts.
Your steep growth strains your cash flow and drains your capital reserves. Most successful business owners recognize the need for capital to start a business, but sometimes fail to realize that more sales requires more capital. Sometimes a business owner believes that more sales brings more revenue and that revenue will capitalize the business growth. Although a business owner can strategically manage the business cash flow and growth with sales to capitalize it, this must be balanced carefully and strategically. Think of the strategy like flying a plane. When a pilot takes off, the plane is on a steep but controlled ascend and then the pilot steadies the climb. If a pilot were to pull back for a steep climb and try to push the throttles and the jet to climb faster than the aircraft was capable, the pilot would burn too much fuel, create too much force and the potential risk of having the plane stall. This is similar with a business owner who pushes too many sales too fast, business runs out of cash and it stalls leaving the business to nose dive.
Yet another unpleasant consequence of increasing sales beyond capacity is that you’ll have trouble responding to customer needs. If anyone is going to recognize this shortfall immediately, it will be your customers. This is why incremental growth is a sound policy. It allows you to identify gaps, learn from your small mistakes, and, to adapt at a realistic rate.
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