Growing pains: Tips on managing business growth from 3 fast growing companies

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There are 450,000 small and medium enterprises (SME) operating in New Zealand, accounting for nearly one third of our country’s total GDP. In the words of BNZ CEO, Anthony Healy, the sector is a deep reservoir of employment, talent, innovation and sheer bloody hard work.

Over the lifecycle of a business there are many phases of growth. Employing staff, reaching new markets, expanding your product offering or implementing your succession plan all represent a new phase of growth. Anthony’s not wrong about the hard work, but taking the time to also reflect on what you learned after each phase can pay dividends when you tackle the next stage.

We asked three 2015 Deloitte Fast 50 finalists to reflect on what they’ve learned as they’ve grown their business.

Begin with the end in mind

“Begin with the end in mind. By this I mean start with a vision for how you want the business to look in two, three or even five years, no matter how wild and crazy or impossible it seems. It’s amazing how a ‘waking dream’ can quickly become real. For example not long after I joined Snakk in 2012, I sketched a draft org chart for Snakk, almost on a whim, that detailed how I thought the company could look in 2-3 years’ time. It’s almost exactly where we are today.” Mark Ryan, Group CEO, Snakk Media

Writing a business plan is a great way of thinking about where you want to be in the future. Visualising how your business will look in the long term can help you set a clear path to success. Forecasting cashflow, identifying your target market and setting short, mid and long term goals will help you plan for growth and identify potential challenges early on.

Collaboration is critical

“Recognise that not everyone does all business functions well. Whilst the visionary must push, challenge and develop what it is that makes your service or product unique, having high functioning trusted accountants, lawyers and bankers who all understand the business requirements, objectives and speed bumps, and do so in a collaborative open manner is critical.” Nick Reekie, Director,

Many SME owners start as a jack-of-all-trades but growing a business usually means delegating roles to others and realising you’re not an expert at everything. Surround yourself with people who are good at what they do and open to collaboration. A good network is a cost-effective way of investing in the growth of your business.

Attitude is hard to teach

“We are a very culture led organisation; the key to our successful growth is in our hiring policy. We hire predominantly on attitude; people can learn new skills, but it is very hard to teach attitude. I was lucky enough to spend a week recently with Richard Branson on his private island (Necker Island), he also shared this view. We have a very low attrition rate at Pure SEO and we believe that is down to the great team we have here.” Richard Conway, CEO, Pure SEO The Search Engine Specialists

Building a team of employees that are motivated and engaged is crucial to successful business growth. Invest time and resources in finding the right people and make sure their values and attitude align with those of your organisation. Work with those who really want the business to succeed as much as you do and hang onto staff who are able to adapt or grow at the same rate as the business.

Successfully growing your business is a huge achievement and the Deloitte Fast 50 Index and Festival of Growth rightly highlights New Zealand companies who are excelling. Congratulations to all the businesses appearing on the index this year. We’re proud to bank twenty seven of them. Your success is inspiring and we can all gain insight from your experience.

Thanks to Richard, Mark and Nick for sharing your words of wisdom.

As always we welcome your comments so if you’ve got tips or questions about business growth, feel free to comment or fire up a conversation here.

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Loving the positive tips here. Begin with the end in mind, collaborate and focus on a great work culture driven by a good attitude. Sweet. We will have to implement this at Search Engine Authority.

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Clear goals and accurate cash flow forecasting - excellent tips.