Warning Signs That Your Startup Is Growing Too Fast
While it’s absolutely true that a startup, by its very nature, is a “company designed to grow fast,” this is simply one small part of a much larger story. It’s correct that several startups that fail do so because they were unable to grow at the rate they needed to survive – but many people fail to realize until it’s far too late that growing too quickly can be just as devastating.
Luckily, all hope is not lost. As with most things, understanding the problem that you face as fast as you can is the key to stopping it before it becomes much larger down the road.
If you really want to determine whether or not your startup is growing too quickly, there are a few key warning signs you’ll want to observe:
1). Pay Attention to Those Expenses and Revenues
One of the most obvious signs that your startup is growing too quickly is, unfortunately, one of the most crushing. If you’ve got far more money going out of your business versus what you’ve got coming in, you have a growth problem on your hands that is only going to get worse as time goes on.
Part of the key to sustaining the right level of growth ultimately comes down to your ability to properly balance business expenses and revenues. Especially during these precarious early days, your goal should not really be to sell X number of units or to get Y number of new customers. It should be to become self-sustainable as quickly as possible and then to do whatever you can to stay there for as long as possible.
It really doesn’t have to be much more complex than that. How you achieve this status will naturally vary depending on what type of business you’re talking about, but if you’ve reached a situation where your business expenses are not accounted for through revenues, then you’ve got some operational issues that you’re going to want to take a closer look at.
2). You’ve Lost Track of Your Audience
One of the biggest signs—and perhaps the most important—that your startup is growing too quickly is you losing sight of the people who ultimately matter the most: your audience.
As your startup continues to grow and evolve, your audience is naturally going to change. The people who you serve in those early days are not the same people you’ll be catering to when you’re finally the giant company you always wanted to be – you naturally pick up some new people and lose others along the way. This is just a natural part of the growth process.
But if there is ever a time where you suddenly feel like you don’t have a clear image of who your customer is—either because you no longer have the time to worry about these types of things or because the definition of your “ideal customer” is changing too often—you might be growing at a rate that will be difficult to sustain moving forward.
In a lot of ways, your marketing collateral can be an important part of helping you mitigate risk from this type of problem. When you create a presentation with a tool like Visme (which I founded), acknowledge that this is a two-way street.
Yes, you’re trying to create a meaningful piece of content that you can use to inform your audience… but it’s also a great way to inform yourself about the current state of your audience, too.
Think about it like this: if all of a sudden your collateral is failing to generate the types of results you need, you’ve probably lost track of just who it is you’re trying to serve in the first place. Your marketing is just the first symptom of this, but it probably isn’t the only one – or the last. Think about “why” this happened and use that insight to address potential problems in other areas of your organization, too.
The answers to all of these questions can not only feedback into your larger marketing efforts to make them stronger than ever, but they can also be used to determine if you’ve got a much bigger growth problem that you need to start thinking seriously about, too.
To Sum It Up
These are just a few of the clear signs that your startup might be growing too quickly. Remember that in the end, the old saying of “slow and steady wins the race” very much applies to the world of entrepreneurialism.
Yes, you’ve got a vision for the perfect company. Yes, you’ve got a plan regarding how you’re going to take that vision and bring it into reality. But this is less a sprint and more a marathon and growing too quickly will always be just as dangerous as not growing fast enough in the first place.
As is true with most things in the world of business, success in this context will always be about striking just the perfect balance to meet the needs of your situation. If you’re able to master that, you will go far.
About The Writer
This is a guest blog post submitted by Payman Taei. He is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland digital agency specializing in website design, user experience and web app development.
Note: This article has been edited for style and substance.