Nearly every small business is challenged by growth at various stages of its lifecycle – it’s just a question of when and how. It could be down to lack of finance, human resources or lack of know-how – whatever it is, they’ll need to find a way to break through the “wall”. So if this sounds like your business, rest assured, it’s normal. Here’s what four very different startups have to say about their own growth challenges and how they’re dealing with them right now.
Mike Wilson, founder of design, software development studio, TinyMe
We’re a very “full stack” or vertically integrated business in that we sell direct to the consumer only through our own sites. We design, code software, and manufacturer everything (to order) in our own studio. Because we have so many moving parts our biggest obstacle, and probably most persistent, has been to continually build a really, really smart team that aligns with the companies values.
We still haven’t found a silver bullet, but have refined our hiring process quite a bit and steered it to focus as much on team fit and values as skills. Unfortunately, we haven’t yet found any genuine short cuts and have just had to put in a lot of hours. Once we’ve got great people on board, we then really look after and develop them.
Dr Marcus Tan, CEO and founder of health-tech startup, HealthEngine
The biggest challenge for us as a fast-growing health-tech startup has been attracting the right talent to help us take HealthEngine to the next level. We're continually looking for talented people who possess entrepreneurial spirit, as well as people who have the right tech skills, to help grow our business proposition.
Being headquartered in Perth has been an issue in finding quality talent in the numbers we require. We've overcome this challenge by establishing satellite offices in Sydney and Melbourne, which open up our doors for prospective talent.
More significantly, we appointed a Head of People & Culture to our senior executive team. This appointment has signalled the importance we place on people. We have put in place learning programs, social events and incentives to create the sort of culture and vibe that would attract smart creatives who would enjoy working with us and are passionate about the work HealthEngine does.
Tiffany Benn, founder of home décor online store, Hart LDN
The biggest challenge I face with growth is my advertising budget. There's a very fine line between spending too little or too much with a small business. I have to spend to grow brand awareness but I have to be careful, otherwise costs can spiral very quickly.
I'm extremely specific with my advertising and targeting. I use Facebook advertising a lot as I can drill down to the kilometre which areas I want to target while also specifying interests and age groups. I find I can get great traction from an advert that only costs me $5 a day if I get the targeting right with CPC as low as 30c. Advertising in magazines and publications is so far out of a small business' budget that you have to get very creative where you spend your advertising dollars.
Monique Treder, founder of food gift delivery service, Happetitefood.com.au
My biggest obstacle to growth is time and staffing. I started up the business in March this year and employ a part-time assistant to help out with packing boxes and writing cards but that leaves the rest of the business to me: Admin, accounts, marketing, social media, communication, sales and customer service. I would love an extra pair of hands to assist with some of the back-of-house work so that I can focus on meeting people and letting people know about Happetite and growing the business. This is what I love and do best.
At this stage I just need to plan and manage my time really well so that I cover all areas that need to be taken care of. I set myself a weekly planner with each task required at a fixed time; that way, I don't miss out on doing things that need to be done regularly. I add in time for exercise, creative cooking and spending time with my family. It seems quite regimented but that way, I know how my week looks and I don't try and do too many tasks at once.