Although small businesses are always looking for growth, the new environment can bring such a surplus of opportunities that, in the helter-skelter growth the learnings are quickly lost and the business may actually go off the tracks.
The challenge for the smaller businesses now is to pass on their genes down the generations; for the management to ensure that the newer stores and the newer recruits gain from the learning and the adaptations already in the organisation.
At an entrepreneurial stage, the core team handles critical activities and is on call to guide others. The team is knit quite tightly, and located geographically close together. “Knowledge” is inherent in the way you do things, guided rather than taught.
Previously I have stressed culture and organisational personality, the “people” end. At the early stage of the business, very often, that is all there is. But growth needs replication and predictability.
Biology gives us a great lesson in how to replicate learnings and functionality: genes (DNA) provide the template for cell functions, and are reproduced almost faithfully from previous generations.
In a business, such replication comes from well-designed processes incorporating the intent, the activities and the desired outcomes. For growth, processes are a must; they are the genetic code of the business. Processes provide the design for how a customer would interact with the business, how the business would interact within itself, and how the organisation would interact with other external agencies (vendors, partners etc.).
Yet, are processes always good? Hold that thought till the next post. 🙂