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Business Growing Fast? Avoid These 10 Common Scaling Mistakes

As published in Fast Company by Duncan Wardle & Fellow Fast Company Executive Board Members

Scaling up is an exciting period for business leaders. It’s easy to get swept up in the possibilities presented by rapid growth opportunities, but it’s essential to manage that growth with the right strategies. Otherwise, you may scale too quickly and struggle to keep up. The members of Fast Company Executive Board know firsthand what it takes to sustainably and properly grow a business. Below, 10 of them share some common mistakes entrepreneurs may make when trying to scale up and how to course-correct.

1. GETTING DISTRACTED BY NEW IDEAS

As the success of your business accelerates, it is easy to get distracted by new ideas and opportunities that pop up. While it is fantastic to have new opportunities flowing in, it is easy to get caught up chasing shiny objects and neglect the health of your core mission. – Alex Husted, HELPSY

2. CHASING EVERY NEW OPPORTUNITY

One of the biggest challenges as an entrepreneur is curbing your natural inclination to chase every exciting opportunity. In short order, you can find yourself dividing your focus among multiple priorities. Being disciplined about focusing on the highest use of your time is a surefire way to improve results and replace simple motion with forward movement and positive momentum. – Evan Nierman, Red Banyan

3. DOING TOO MUCH AT ONCE

One of the biggest obstacles to scaling a rapidly growing business is trying to do too much at once. With so many growth opportunities at your fingertips, you feel the pull to work on everything at the same time because it all feels equally important. But you can’t move as fast or as far as you want to if you don’t prioritize. And prioritization actually means deprioritizing some things. – Sara de Zarraga, Flare

4. FORGING AHEAD WITHOUT A “WHY” OR “HOW”

Scaling can lead to chasing down every new idea and opportunity. Double down on what’s working and make sure your operational infrastructure and resources support it. Develop the practice of anchoring yourself to your goals—constantly ground yourself in them. And before you start a new project or pursue a new idea, ask yourself “why” you are doing it and “how” it meets your goal. – Greta McAnany, Blue Fever

5. NOT TESTING THE MARKET FIRST

Many leaders want to make a huge splash and implement strategies before testing the market to find out what works. However, this can often lead to expensive mistakes. Consumer businesses can course-correct this by conducting testing, such as market research, focus groups, and surveying their current customers. This will indicate if the strategy will be successful on a larger scale. – Kelley Higney, Bug Bite Thing

6. NOT DOCUMENTING PROCESSES

Forgetting to document processes is a common mistake entrepreneurs make when scaling rapidly. This ends up leading to mistakes during hiring, frustrations during onboarding, and a slowdown of overall progress. While it may seem like you don’t have the time to document your processes right now, you must do it. Your future self will thank you for it. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

7. HIRING WITHOUT A PROCESS

A mistake leaders often make when scaling their business is hiring too quickly, without any standards and processes. Paired with less-than-ideal onboarding or performance management, this can lead to real issues six to 12 months down the road. Investing in seasoned people leaders on both the hiring and HR sides and having high-quality processes and standards make a huge difference here. – Alexandra Cavoulacos, The Muse

8. CHASING TEMPORARY RESULTS INSTEAD OF FOCUSING ON THE MISSION

One of the biggest challenges companies face as they grow is that they can lose focus on their “why,” instead focusing on quarterly results. Culture beats finance every time. – Duncan Wardle, iD8 & innov8

9. SPREADING YOUR TEAM TOO THIN

When your company starts growing, it becomes tempting to chase every opportunity in front of you. Suddenly there is an overwhelming number of product ideas, new revenue channels, and bigger customers that you feel pressured to pursue. You can spread yourself and your team too thin. It’s better to prioritize, narrow your focus, and execute fully. – Patrick Ambron, BrandYourself.com

10. NOT PROVIDING NEEDED TRAINING

One of the biggest mistakes leaders make when scaling a rapid-growth business is allowing training to lag behind expectations. Rapid ramping requires not just domain-specific, operational capabilities but also the skills of mind to continue to function optimally as the stakes rise and the ground beneath your feet seems to perpetually shift. – Jonathan Fields, Spark Endeavors | Good Life Project®

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