Seasons of Growth

managing-business-growthAs spring changes to summer one of the biggest things you may notice is how all of the plants that were coming to life in April and May have reached their climax. The spring flowers have bloomed, then fallen, the plant has survived and stabilizing itself for the summer. As a business owner, I appreciate this process and feel as though it relates to not only my business, but to businesses everywhere.

The first few years as a business owner are usually pretty rough, struggling to turn a profit and build a client base. Once you do have the base, the flowers fall off and you’ve become stable, knowing that you made it. In my 10 years in business I can fully assure you that this is one of the most gratifying feelings you will experience as a business owner. But now knowing your roots are firmly planted in the ground and you are stable, has it become time to grow?

Every season your business grows or changes you will feel the excitement that you felt as a new business owner. You will realize and appreciate the process of getting through the spring season without getting nipped by the frost and coming out the other side bigger and better than you were prior to growth. Before making the decision to grow, you need to answer a few important questions and set a business plan in place.

This process is similar to how you trim back your bushes each year and let them grow in the areas you want to expand.

  1. Plan. What is the worst thing that could happen in growing the business, whether your growth involves a new employee, expanding your office or a whole new location all-together? Having a back-up plan for the “what if” is important to planning your growth.
  2. Expectations. What are your expectations for the growth you have planned? Be sure to lay out short-range, mid-range, and long-range goals.
  3. Outcomes. You need to be optimistic. Plan for how you will handle the potential growth and what you will do to keep up with growing business. Adding a new location is not the only part of growing business, you need to have a plan on how to keep your reputation up and handle the growth.

Building your team and getting them on board is the next step. Having the right staff on board will determine the level of your success. Share your growth plans with your team so they understand your dream, and have their buy in for helping you achieve your goals.

Planning for the growth both financially and by building the right team will help to ensure your success through your next seasons of business!

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long term basis. Core areas of service are business development, marketing, strategic planning and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business growth.

Hiring The Right Fit

Hiring the right personWith college out for the summer the pool of candidates you have to hire has more than likely grown. Whether you are looking for summer help or a new full time employee, there is never a better time to hire. That being said, hiring the right person can be the difference between a happy employee-employer relationship and one that creates more stress and turmoil for you and your other employees.

There are several steps to take into consideration when you are looking to hire a new employee. The most common mistake I see in the business industry is hiring someone simply to have a warm body to fill a position. While initially this may lighten the load on your schedule, a wrong hire may end up making more work for everyone. Having the right staff will ensure your business has the greatest chance of success!

If you are at a pivotal point, or have a pressing project, there are many consultants and outsourced services to consider. This will allow you time to find the right employee, or may provide an alternative solution as you grow your business.

As a business owner, keeping the right staff on payroll is an ongoing process, and one that you should never stop. Even when you are fully staffed there are steps you can take to help reduce the time it would require to replace an employee should someone leave or not be a good fit with your company’s culture.

The first step is to always be interviewing. Ideally a company will get the perfect team of employees and no one will ever leave. That however rarely happens. Even if you have dedicated employees, as a business owner, you need to have a plan on how to prepare for growth. If you overload that perfect team you will, in most cases, see the work start to suffer. Or even worse they may look for other employment with a less stressful environment. For these reasons, it is always important to have your hand in the talent pool knowing who and what skillsets are out there.

Having a candidate, or a few candidates in mind if the need arises for growth or replacement will help to reduce the stress on your team. If your team is going gangbusters and have reached their capacity, you may also want to consider adding new positions to fulfill different functions. Consultants and outsourced services are a great way to bridge the gap when you’re not quite to the tipping point.

Some business owners may feel that once they hire someone they are stuck with them. If you hire a candidate and have a gut feeling they aren’t going to work out, cut your losses during the first 60-90 days. That’s why many companies have a probationary period. Begin searching for their replacement and be prepared to make a move once all the pieces are in place. As you begin the process of interviewing, be sure to give yourself the time needed to properly interview and find the “right fit.” An HR consultant can help screen and narrow down potential candidates based on the position’s qualifications, thus saving a business owner time and money.

It is becoming a common practice, and a good one I might add, to have your top candidates meet with the team that they will be working with. Keep in mind that they are the ones that will have to get along with your new employee. If you like the candidate and your team doesn’t, your business could suffer and your perfectly functioning team can become that of conflict and strife.

Now that college is out, it’s the perfect time to knock the rust off your interviewing skills and look through the pool of possible candidates. Take your time, vet the possible candidates and be sure you find the right person who will complement your current workforce. If you’re not quite ready to bring on an employee or need an experienced senior level staff person on a part time basis, consider hiring a consultant.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long term basis. Core areas of service are business development, marketing, strategic planning and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business growth.

Planning Your Vacation

Edmiston GroupSummer time is quickly approaching, and the kids will soon be done with school. This means that it is time for your family vacation right? As many small business owners know this is easier said than done.

As a business owner myself, I find it challenging to go away on vacation and not be constantly checking my phone, or my email to make sure there are no emergencies. But, I have a good team and I have found with proper planning, you too can learn to enjoy your vacation away from work.

Preparing for your vacation well in advance is one the biggest steps to enjoying your vacation this summer. If you are like many small business owners with less than 10 employees, your absence may feel like an emergency is just around the corner. It doesn’t have to be that way though. Create a set of contingencies and give your staff the power to handle what comes up.

Prepare and train your employees.

One thing is always certain when it comes to emergencies, they will happen at the most inopportune moments, like… when you are away on vacation. These emergencies can be handled by your employees if they are trained and have all the information they need to know on how to handle the situation. The following information will help them to handle the emergency and prevent it from making its way into your vacation.

From A Physical Plant Perspective.
  • List of all contractors you use for plumbing, electrical, computer, internet, or other services that are pertinent to your business.
  • At what level of emergency do you wish to be notified? Simple problems such as a leaky sink are not an issue, however a major fire is something that you should be called over.
  • Name and number of your business insurance provider.

Empowering your employees to make not only simple decisions, but larger ones as well, will better allow them to handle an emergency when it arises.

Client Management.

Another step to being able to enjoy your vacation, is to notify your clients well in advance as to when you will be out of town. If you are your only employee they will need to know that you will be unreachable and how long you will be out of town.

The next part of managing your clients while you are out of town is to work ahead. Complete any work that can be accomplished in advance. This will help to reduce catch up when you get back to the office.

If you have a client that typically works with you over other employees, take time to assign an employee who you feel will work well with them and give the proper introductions to the employee. Also be sure the client knows when you will be gone, and that your employee is more than capable of completing the tasks you normally preform.

Lastly, always give yourself a few extra days after you get back. Having a day or two in the office while everyone still thinks your out will give you time to get caught up without the distraction of the phone ringing or your email pinging.

As a business owner it is important to take your time to recharge your batteries and unwind. Proper planning with not only your employees but also with your clients will help to make this possible.

It’s almost time for me to stick my toes in the sand! But don’t worry, I have things covered.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long term basis. Core areas of service are business development, marketing, strategic planning and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business growth.

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