Fast or Slow? Arguments for & Against Rapid Business Growth

What’s your speed — fast, slow, or somewhere in the middle? If you’re trying to get a business off the ground, this isn’t an idle question. You need to decide whether you want to grow your company quickly, opt for the slow and steady approach, or split the difference. Let’s weigh three common arguments for the two extremes.

Why Grow Slow? 3 Reasons to Take It Easy

  • Your Tax Bill Could Rise Faster Than You Realize: Back in the Internet’s Wild West days, you could easily get away with selling merchandise across state lines — as many as you pleased — and not paying a cent of sales tax. For better or worse, those days are over. If you decide to open a store in a new jurisdiction, you need to make sure you’re forking over your fair share to the local tax authorities. That’s doubly true in international markets, where value-added taxes (VATs) are often the norm.
  • You Could Bite Off More Than You Can Chew: Managing a 10-person company is lot different than managing a 100-person company — and a heck of a lot different than managing a 1,000-person company. You might be great at envisioning and developing killer products that your customers can’t get enough of. That’ll get you through your company’s “death phase,” but it might not be any good once you’ve got several layers of middle management between you and the front lines. If you grow faster than you can grow into your new (and constantly changing) role as company leader, you’re likely to reach a point at which you’re doing more harm than good.
  • You Could Cede More Control Than You’re Comfortable Losing: Rapid growth often comes at a price: less control over decision-making and direction-setting at the top. Once you have a board to answer to and investors to keep happy, you’re no longer the boss — or, at least, not the sole boss. That’s a tough change to manage.

Why Grow Fast? 3 Reasons to Get a Move On

  • You Could Lose Out on Talent & Investment: Investors love winners. So do talented workers. Even if your slow-growing company is financially stable and executing its business plan to a ‘T’, you can’t expect prospective employees or stakeholders to understand that. Rapid growth is sexy, and sexy sells.
  • You Could Sacrifice Market Share for Stability: In emerging industries, market share is more important than any other financial metric: revenue, profit, margins, you name it. The more market share you’re able to grab right out of the gate, the stronger you’ll be when you finally figure out how to turn a profit. Slow growth might mean stability, but it could also foreclose opportunities down the line.
  • You Could Find Your Way to the Door Faster: If you’re a restless founder, you don’t want to be tied to your startup for a decade or longer. Rapid growth breeds more (and more timely) opportunities to exit, either by selling your stake outright and reinvesting in a new company or stepping back and handing day-to-day operations to a trusted subordinate.

What’s your business growth philosophy: tortoise, hare, or somewhere right in the middle?

 

Scott Vollero is an international entrepreneur and expert in the precious metals and automotive parts recycling industries.

4 Ways to Reward Your Employees (& Convince Them to Stick Around)

By Scott Vollero

America’s quit rate, or the rate at which U.S. workers quit their jobs, is holding steady near long-term highs. Translation: the country’s workers have rarely been more restless to leave their jobs and learn once and for all whether the grass is greener on the other side.

Zoom out a bit and the picture gets even starker for employers. After a rapid collapse during the Great Recession, the U.S. quit rate steadily recovered most of its lost ground. Every year, it’s gotten harder for American employers to keep good employees around — and, because there’s so much competition for rockstar workers in the labor market these days, to find quality replacements.

These four ideas for rewarding and retaining employees won’t turn your company around overnight or make it the envy of HR specialists the world over. But each will give you a cost-effective edge over the competition — one more reason for your top performers to stick around a little longer.

  1. Train Better Supervisors

Quality supervision isn’t a traditional job perk, to be sure, but it’s absolutely critical to keeping employees happy. When you hire or promote a new supervisor, run them through the training ringer: conflict resolution strategies, hands-on management best practices, compliance, and anything else that makes sense in the context of your company. Track their retention rates over time and offer performance bonuses for managers that meet or exceed target thresholds. If a team or department consistently turns over faster than comparable units, don’t be afraid to ask whether the supervisor is to blame.

  1. Increase Flex Time

Flexibility is currency. Your employees have lives outside work, after all: kids, spouses, parents, siblings, friends, hobbies, feelings (including, you know, wanting to be anywhere other than the office). If your white-collar workplace doesn’t yet have a telecommuting policy, what are you waiting for? And there’s absolutely no reason you should be tracking time-off accumulation by the hour. If your workers are able to get their work done before the deadlines you’ve set, they should be able to take an afternoon off to take care of their sick kid.

  1. Boost Bonus Compensation

Scheduled raises are so passe — and so expensive. Why not reward your employees when they reward you? Even a moderate boost to your current bonus pool, or the addition of a new financial performance incentive, can improve morale among affected workers. Bonus compensation is a win-win: employees who feel recognized and rewarded are willing to work harder for the same amount of (guaranteed) money.

  1. Spiff Up Your Office

The old ping-pong tables and beanbag chairs cliche is wearing thin, even in the latte-frothy world of software startups. But that doesn’t mean you can’t invest in a practical, employee-friendly office design, decor and programming. You don’t have to hear the place apart — just upgrade your common areas, add some collaborative work space, and make sure your office manager (who you’ll need to hire if he or she doesn’t exist already) keeps the refreshments coming. It’s amazing what fresh coffee, local artwork and comfy huddle rooms can do.

What are you doing to reward and retain employees in an ever more competitive job market?

 

Scott Vollero is an international entrepreneur and expert in the precious metals and automotive parts recycling industries.