How to Avoid Growing Too Fast: When Putting on the Brakes is the Key to Success

How to Avoid Growing Too Fast: When Putting on the Brakes is the Key to Success

Vishal Singh, an entrepreneur in Lincoln, Nebraska, was getting calls from as far away as Brazil and Argentina about his company’s product — technology that could determine if cattle in feedlots were becoming sick.

As the inquiries came from around the globe, Singh gave them an answer you won’t find in many sales books: No, thanks.

He was concerned about expanding too quickly. “We have a product that involves both hardware and software, so we have to make sure there’s no hang-ups on the manufacturing side of it,” he says in an interview with Inc. “We keep in touch with them, but we start with the smaller operations — we need to operate in bite-size chunks.”

Slowing to Succeed

As a business owner, you may want to grow as quickly as possible, but growing slowly may be a better path to success. The Kauffman Foundation conducted a follow-up study of businesses that made Inc. magazine’s 5,000 fastest-growing companies list. Five to eight years after landing on the list, two-thirds of the company had, “Gotten smaller, been disadvantageously sold or gone out of business entirely.”

Fast growth, while alluring, may create issues hindering companies from developing the processes they need to succeed, including:

  • The quality of the product suffers as the quantity ratchets up too quickly.
  • Communication breaks down and employees leave.
  • The company cannot collect the money it’s owed fast enough.
  • Leadership takes on too many roles, with too many day-to-day tasks depending on their participation.
  • In the rush to fill jobs, the company hires the wrong people, and the culture declines.

Maintaining Your Vision

The signs of overly fast growth may include customer complaints, cash flow problems, and mission creep. “When a business grows too quickly, many founders lose sight of their original vision,” writes CEO Brandon Vallorani. “They broaden out so far that their team members forget what the product or service was that built the company in the first place.”

The question to ask is whether your growth is a result of realistic planning, anticipation, and orderly preparation. If your growth is getting ahead of you, your business might be getting away from you. Keep an eye out for the warnings signs of excessive growth, and when the temptation comes to press on the gas when you should be working the brake, remember who won the race between the tortoise and the hare.


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