Are You Scaling Too Fast? 15 Ways To Know For Sure, Then Fix The Problem

For the last few quarters, business has been going well. You’ve drawn in new clients and new opportunities, and the services your firm provides seems to be in high demand. But, you’ve noticed some issues: Staff members seem unusually stressed, tasks get set aside for longer than normal (or get dropped entirely) and customers are starting to call and complain about a variety of subjects.

All of these warning signs raise an important red flag: You could be scaling your company too quickly. So how do you fix the problem? Forbes Coaches Council members have this to say:


1. Warnings Include Communication Breakdowns

Early warning signs of scaling too quickly often include communication breakdowns, coordination confusion and cash-flow shortages. Anticipating strategy, structure, staffing and systems stress points can help the CEO or entrepreneur stay ahead of these issues. – Carl Hicks The Growth Group, LLC


2. Check If Demand Is Higher Than Supply

When demand exceeds supply, it’s a sign that it’s time to scale up to keep pace with what customers are demanding. However, if there isn’t enough demand, then the focus shouldn’t be on scaling. Scaling should be commensurate with a specific goal. If you plan to go after a large contract for example, then acquiring the resources to accommodate the increased workflow is logical. – Tamiko Cuellar Pursue Your Purpose LLC


3. Redefine Early Adopters

To many entrepreneurs and owners, early adopters seem to be a clear sign of sustained customers. But these early stage customers may not be sustainable. They may be reactors to a great seeming idea. Do not mistake them as sustainable. Focus on finding out who your customers are, how they think and why they would refer and become loyal. Create relationships and treat early adopters as potential. – John O’Connor Career Pro Inc.


4. Look For Employee Turnover

In my experience, companies (big or small) that scale too quickly feel immense growing pains and it can lead to employee turnover and a slew of other headaches. Adding in internal processes and structures — especially in terms of onboarding, training, staff reviews, and benefits — can ease those pains. Bringing on an internal HR team member or having an HR consultant is a great place to start! – Emily Kapit ReFresh Your Step, LLC


5. Find Balance Between Growth And Service

I made a lot of “growing too quick mistakes.” One of them was overwhelming my sales team with too many leads. I decreased the quantity, and closing ratios rose as a direct result. They could now spend 20 minutes on the phone with 10 people, instead of two minutes with 100 people. The antidote is to find balance — balance between training, growth, new clients and customer service. – Ryan Stewman Hardcore Closer LLC


6. Maintain Your Strategy, Systems And Support

You’re scaling too quickly if breakdowns reveal that your pace of growth has stripped your strategy, systems or support structures. The antidote is to identify which of the three is insufficient to the task of scaling and bolster that domain before resuming growth overall. Telltale signs in the culture will guide you towards whether you must boost strategy, systems or supports. – Suzi Pomerantz Innovative Leadership International LLC


7. Evaluate Cash Flow And Satisfaction

It is important to balance this necessary optimism with brutal evaluation of the facts on a regular basis. Three indicators are cash, employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction. Are you following financial plan? Are your employees engaged? Are your customers satisfied?  Antidote: Set reasonable expectations and put systems in place to monitor. – Maureen Metcalf Metcalf & Associates, Inc


8. Watch For Burnout And Turnover

When the attrition and burnout rate skyrockets, a company is growing too rapidly. The antidote is to slow down and reassess what needs to grow right at this moment and what can be left for another time. You also want to put measurements in place to show which growth delivers the highest return on investment and which damages employee morale and lowers engagement. – Kelly Meerbott You: Loud & Clear


9. Lost Business Opportunities A Bad Sign

If your company is scaling too fast, it usually cannot handle the customer demand and this results in leads not being utilized and ultimately losing business. Instead, the antidote is to put necessary systems, processes and team members in place early enough so you make the investment first.  – Regan Hillyer Regan Hillyer International


10. Know What Your Resources Can Handle

A business can only support what its resources can handle. Resources, being anything from capital to people to machines, must be carefully assessed in order to utilize them for maximum profit. A plan should be in place for adding resources to support growth when needed. Based on this type of planning and analysis, a leader can recognize when an opportunity is too big for the resources available. – Andrea MacKenzie Lead With Harmony


11. Constant Catch-Ups And Band-Aid Fixes Will Lead To Major Mess-Ups

Is your company growing so quickly that your employees are constantly in a state of confusion? Are you constantly trying to play catch-up? Are problems fixed with Band-Aids? It’s time to slow down. Moving at this pace comes with a risk of bursting at the seams and major mess-ups that will impact your customers. Listen to your employees: The people doing the work often have the best solutions. – Lizabeth Czepiel Lizabeth Czepiel, LLC


12. Slow Down And Evaluate Processes

The book The E Myth was recommended to me 10 years ago. It changed the way I run my business. When things start falling through the cracks — such as physical or emotional health, missing deadlines or meetings, or lower external or internal customer service — it is time to slow down. When you slow down, you can re-evaluate, create better processes, and take an objective view to determine how to move forward. – Michelle Braden MSBCoach, LLC


13. Be Alert For The Same Few Working On Too Much

When too many projects become the responsibility of the same few, resulting in important tasks being dropped or completed in a haphazard way, decisions not being made in a timely manner, and stress increasing, you are scaling too fast. To overcome this, review roles and necessary skills to determine your organization’s responsibilities chart, and identify what roles require a shift or hire from the outside. – Tmima Grinvald The Round Well


14. Develop Trust, Then Delegate

When communication and infrastructure issues keep coming up, you are most likely growing too quickly. When the CEO cannot manage everyone and is not ready to empower their senior hires, it is time to step back and reassess. The antidote is hiring senior people who you trust and will empower. It is also critical to stay in front of your people and be visible no matter how big and fast you grow. – Tanya Ezekiel


15. ‘Let’s Forge Ahead’ A Red-Flag Phrase

You may be scaling too quickly if you ever hear, “the big benefits totally outweigh the problems. Let’s forge ahead for the bigger things.” Just remember that problems are like cockroaches: They don’t magically go away. They typically multiply. So, address each problem fully, then resolve each one at the earliest stage possible while the problem is still in a small containable stage and space. Always. – Robin Blakely Creative Center of America


Originally published on Forbes