running a business

The Growing Pains of Running a Business

Kristine Shreve is the Director of Marketing for EnMart and parent company Ensign Emblem. She developed and writes two blogs—the EnMart Threaducuate blog and the SubliStuff blog. Shreve also maintains the EnMart Twitter account and Facebook page. She can be reached via email at kristine.shreve@myenmart.com

Starting your own business is a little bit like being a baby; you must learn to navigate your space, discover how to define who and what you are, and figure out how to handle increasing demands made on you as time goes on. The beginning is often the easiest time for a business owner. Yes, you might be worrying about how to pay the bills, or how to get the work done, but no one is expecting a lot at that point. As time goes on, and the business gets bigger as well as the expectations.

Dealing with increased expectations is one possible problem that might be encountered by a growing business. Longevity in business, whether it’s three months or thirty years, brings with it an increased skill level and hopefully a better understanding of how to get jobs done efficiently and effectively. It also leads people to expect you to be able to do and produce more. When it comes to increased expectations, the one thing to remember is that it’s your business and the only expectations that matters are yours. Set goals for your business, but don’t let outsiders influence what those goals should be.

Another issue that often impacts growing businesses is the speed of growth. Often, the workflow may outpace the available staff. It’s easy to get overwhelmed or get bogged down in the avalanche of business, so careful management of resources is key. Don’t overwork yourself or your current staff. Look into options like temporary staff or contracting out the business. No business owner wants to hire permanent staff they won’t be able to support, so try some less permanent measures until you’re sure the new income flow is secure.

Business growth can also, like adolescence, bring on an identity crisis. A business may start out doing or being one thing and then, over time, discover that the business has changed, and the identity that once fit like a glove now hangs in tatters. Sometimes an expansion of the current brand identity will be enough to encompass the new options. Other times a complete rebranding will be in order. The trick here is to commit to whatever option is taken. Keep in mind that your past identity doesn’t necessarily have to dictate your current identity, while also being mindful of the need to fully support whatever identity you choose.

Finally, don’t forget to celebrate the milestones along the way. Most families probably have a shaky video of their baby’s first steps or a baby book recording of a first word or first smile. For a business, the milestones might be the first 100-piece job, first all-nighter, or first day in a new space. Milestones are growth and should be celebrated. Don’t get so caught up in the day to day that you forget to recognize how far you’ve come.