One of the most surprising and frustrating ways that a successful startup fumbles towards failure is by becoming a victim of its own success. When we try to imagine what went wrong with an otherwise great business idea we may tend to think of an overconfident, self-appointed CEO suffering from delusions of grandeur, but the truth is often more than just an overly ambitious founder.
Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail
More often than not, small businesses fail because they are not prepared for success. Simply put, inexperienced business owners are so focused on meeting their short-term goals that they forget to prepare for when things take off. Not wanting to put the cart before the horse is an understandable and arguably responsible way to go about business, but it sets you up for immediate failure in the chance that your business booms quickly.
Rather than being afraid of preemptive planning or getting ahead of yourself with plans for an executive suite, the practical midpoint is to incorporate scalability into your operations. This essentially helps to automate your path to growth. Therefore, when the business takes off, whenever that may be, a system is already in place to accommodate for the new development. For instance, the software and protocol in place for a sales team ought to be able to accommodate for rapid growth. Your choice of collaboration platforms for an office of sales personnel will need to have this elasticity integrated into its design. Otherwise, the men and women who are front and center of your business expansion will be struggling to keep up with the growing volume of information and updates to existing data.
Simplicity is Key
Another way to ensure your business can handle success is to “keep it simple, stupid.” Don’t let the last part put a bad taste in your mouth – the “K.I.S.S. Principle” is a great rule of thumb for when it comes to marketing, in addition to other key aspects of the small business engine. Don’t overcomplicate your operations and the result will be a system that can be swiftly amplified.
Think of it this way: imagine fifty popsicle sticks glued together in a jumble of random angles and shapes and another fifty which are glued together in a simple pattern. You are told to replicate them at twice the scale with 1one-hundred sticks each instead of fifty. Which will be easier to do, the jumbled shape or the simple pattern?
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Selective
If you want to successfully scale your business, then you need to learn how to be selective about the various ideas getting thrown your way. This also helps to preserve the concept of simplicity just discussed. You might think that rejecting bad ideas is the easiest step within this whole process, but how good are you at separating good ideas from the bad? Go for the ideas that sound logical and fully-formed, and ditch anything that sounds too complex or unreliable.
No business wants to fail, but few businesses think about the prospect of failing by becoming victims of their own success. Pretentious attitudes and hubris aside, the most likely cause of failure is your own unpreparedness.