Maintaining a Small Business Feel as Your Company Grows

Maintaining a Small Business Feel as Your Company Grows

Growing a small start-up into a full-fledged business is an exciting endeavor.  With growth comes so many new opportunities for production, marketing, distribution, and more.  However, there are also positive aspects of a small business that you do not necessarily want to lose as you grow.  Especially for employees that have been with you since the beginning, there can be challenges and frustrations that come with company growth.  Here are a few ways you can try to maintain the perks of a small business while leveraging the advantages of growth and expansion.  

Limit Red Tape

One huge advantage of small companies for employees is the lack of red tape there tends to be.  When there are only 10, 20, or 30 people in a company, there is inherently not a need for much of a bureaucratic hierarchy.  Structures can be informal and relaxed, while still maintaining the necessary authority for those at the top.  But with growth comes the need for a more formal organizational structure to keep everything running smoothly.  It is inevitable that with hundreds or even thousands of employees, each person will no longer be reporting directly to the owner or CEO like they were when the company first started out. 

You will not be able to completely avoid a formal hierarchy in your growing company, nor should you.  But be mindful not to make the structure too convoluted and complicated as you grow.  Keep the lines of communication between employees at all levels streamlined.  Avoid adding in too many “middle men” that can lead to red tape, slow communication, and frustration. 

Maintain Traditions 

With growth comes A LOT of new things: new production and shipping practices, new coworkers, new facilities, new job functions.  With so much change, it is important for you to keep some things the same.  This is especially true when it comes to any team bonding or company traditions that have been a part of your business since the beginning.  Do not abandon these traditions just because everything else is changing.  Find a way to continue them, adapting if needed to the new situation.  Whether it is weekly team happy hours, a holiday gift exchange, or anything else, make it a priority to continue traditions.  Your long-time employees will be grateful, and new team members are sure to have fun with them as well.

Offer Access to the Top 

As we mentioned above, employees who have been with your company since the start are probably used to a high level of communication directly with upper management.  Understandably, this will be possible less often as the scale of the business grows.  However, be sure not to cut off this access completely.  Set aside time in your schedule to meet with employees, make yourself available via phone call or text, or find some other way to feel accessible to every person working within your company.  This will go a long way for team morale, and will also help you hear ideas and perspectives from a variety of people that could help the business succeed. 

Give Employees A Voice 

Taking that even a step further, don’t just find time to listen to your employees, but really give them a voice in your company.  Maybe your whole team can no longer fit into one conference room together to discuss ideas for the future and where the company is headed, but that doesn’t mean employees need to be left out of the decision making process entirely.  Small businesses tend to be successful at least in part because of the sharing of ideas and collaboration that occurs.  For the sake of your employees’ satisfaction and for the success of your business, be sure to find a way to continue collaborating and sharing ideas.  Whether this is through small group meetings, a suggestion box, or any other form of communication, encourage ideas and suggestions.  You never know who in your company will have the next big breakthrough!

As your business grows, it is inevitably going to change.  You cannot and should not fight that change and try to keep everything exactly the same, because that just is not sustainable in the long run.  You can, however, work to maintain some of the aspects of your business that served you and your employees best.  Don’t completely abandon your roots.  Using the above suggestions to guide you, you can navigate growing and expanding your company, without losing who our brand is at its core. 

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