Article

How to Gear Your Business for Growth

Your Evolving Operations Plan

As your business grows, your budget and operations plan will change as well. An unfortunate situation that some business owners find themselves in is referring to an out-of-date operations plan in a contingency situation. Don’t let this happen to you.

Growth, Staff, and Ducks

The majority of small businesses in B.C. are started by self-employed individuals. As a business grows, hiring staff is often the first major step an owner will take to expand.

As a new entrepreneur, you might believe an operations plan is unnecessary if you employ only yourself, which might very well be the case. However, once a business involves more than one person, the need for clarity and consistency in operations decisions becomes more important.

If you have not yet written an operations plan, now is the time to do it. Unfortunately, for too many business owners, the realization that an operations plan is needed often comes at a time of unexpected growth and success. The lack of a proper plan will almost always put a damper on your ability to take full advantage of new opportunities. The same situation in a time of difficulty can mean disaster.

The lesson? Get your ducks in a row before a challenging situation occurs.

Plan How You’ll Manage Your Cash Flow

Every addition to your business, be it a concept, a person, or a machine, will change your cash situation. Ignoring your budget as things change is flirting with disaster.

Firing on All Cylinders: Plan to Train Your Staff

Your new (or potential) staff are not you. That is, they aren’t the motivated, passionate entrepreneur who knows what needs to be delivered to the customer and how to get the job done.

You’ll be disappointed in the performance of anyone you hire unless you take the time to plan and deliver their training. Before you hire staff, think about the way you want them to operate, and develop your training program accordingly. Once you hire them, you may not have the time to plan.

Plan for Changes to Your Facilities

New products need storage space. New services need delivery mechanisms. New staff need space, equipment and direction.

These considerations are very important and often have legal implications. Make sure you have done the research necessary to have a solid plan before moving forward. Some examples of questions that you should think about are:

  • Does my business licence and/or zoning restrictions allow for this change?
  • Do I need to make leasehold improvements? Do I need a permit to do this?
  • Do I have appropriate space, parking, access, washrooms, furniture, security, etc.?

All of these questions and more should be in your operations plan—but not just to accommodate your immediate plans. These questions should be answered for contingencies as well.

Complexity Breeds Contingencies

As your business becomes more complex, so do the number of contingencies you need to plan for.

  • New products. If you launch a new product or service that is more successful than you expected, are you going to pull staffing from your original core products and services to keep up? Would the loss of ability in your core areas be acceptable while building your new ones? Can you hire temporary staff to do the job? What are the training implications? Do you have space for them?
  • Leases. A good example of contingency planning is forecasting space requirements. A lease should never be entered into lightly. Instead of entering a lease you might regret, look at all of your options. Is there a company that provides short-term office space at an affordable price? Can you manage new employees for a short time in this situation?

Most businesses will have to make adjustments to their operations to accommodate contingencies. Often, these contingencies’ timelines will not suit your needs. The more you allow and plan for these contingencies, the better you can anticipate them and meet them with a practical and well thought-out plan.

Rethink, Reflect, Review

Your operations plan and budget are fluid documents that will change over time. You should go back to your plans and update them periodically based on your experiences operating under that plan. Put care and attention into your rewrites, and always add new contingency plans when they come to mind.