One of the businesses that I am currently helping sells organic food. It’s products are fantastic, and the business is growing really fast at the moment as lots of new customers discover it.
However rapid growth is not easy – they have needed to recruit new people, and invest in new machinery to allow them to produce more product more quickly while maintaining their high quality.
When you make some cakes in your own kitchen you know exactly what’s going on (if making cakes is your thing!). When you involve more people in producing the cakes you need to be able to teach them how to make your cakes, so you need to work out what the steps in your process are, and write them down.
This means a lot of new paperwork, and somehow you need to find time to work out what the steps are, which is no mean feat when you also need to keep up with the customer demand! But the investment of time will pay off.
Now that we are looking at the processes and systems in this business we have found lots of things that could be done better.
We can automate various things so that they are not reliant on people making choices. This doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult – for example we put a simple calculation in a spreadsheet to make sure the use by date is always correct.
Also, we have spent time making sure that existing IT systems are being used to do all of the things that they can do – not just labelling packs, but using the information to produce the invoices too. This has speeded the paperwork up and also reduced the number of errors.
These little changes will make it easier to add on more new customers too, because now we understand what needs to be done to make sure things go smoothly.
Hopefully this will keep the excitement of working in a fast growing business, rather than letting terror take over.