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Leadership Thought #355 – Growth Comes with Its Own Challenges

May 17, 2012

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How you manage growth can make or break your organization.

Business ownership has never been for the faint of heart.  On-going change and adaptability are part of the success equation.  Even when things go well there are problems you will have to navigate.  As you grow, your company and you should be prepared to experience many if not all the following issues:

  • You will feel out of your depth as the leader and need to significantly invest in your own professional development and/or eventually turn the reigns over to someone else
  • You will outgrow the capacity of your current people to perform in their roles and need to upgrade the talent critical positions
  • You may outgrow the knowledge bandwidth of your current professional service advisors (e.g., tax, legal, IT, etc.)
  • You will go through periods where there is significant pressure on cash flow to catch up with the increased volume and infrastructure building requirements
  • You will begin hiring administrative people who don’t generate revenue and constitute an overhead expense, and this will put increased pressure on margins
  • Your current bank may not be able to nor want to service your changing financial needs
  • Your business model will be challenged with operational problems regarding scaling up to match volume and replicating system/processes
  • You will end up changing your definition of what constitutes an ideal client relationship and may end up having to walk away from clients that served you well in the past
  • There will be pressures to expand your product/service line and/or expand geographically
  • Your competition may change and regardless will become more aggressive in their tactics
  • You will lose the personal connection with your employees and there will come a point where people are hired that you don’t know and may never really interact with
  • You will be spending increasingly more of your time on symbolic leadership and big picture issues and feel far removed from the tangible day-to-day operations


Leadership is about reinvention. The typical leader needs to reinvent himself/herself every 5-7 years to tackle the new challenges of the role.  You will also be forced to make difficult yet necessary decisions if you want to maintain a trajectory of success.  Of course, you can opt to put the brakes on growth or slow it down and become more of a lifestyle business, but that has its own set of challenges to be discussed in a later blog.  The good news is that many people have blazed the path ahead of you.  There is much you can learn from them and do to tackle these and many other challenges.

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