Of geography and business growth

As your business enters the Surly Teen years the tasks at hand won’t necessarily get easier – in fact, some of the things you’ll be called upon to do will seem downright bizarre. I was thinking about this parallel tonight as I helped my daughter with a school assignment – carving a map of Africa out of a pan of brownies. No where in the parenting handbook did it say I’d be called upon to do this!

But carve we did. And it got me thinking about the potential pitfalls a business faces as it grows and adds complexity. (Yes, I really am that easy to distract.) If you are in your Surly Teens, take a few moments to review some common problem areas:

  • Legal exposure. The larger and more complex your business, the greater the potential for legal challenges. Make sure you have a trusted attorney with whom you can proactively discuss possible exposure.
  • Problematic cash flow. Selling more can be your ticket to higher profit – or your ticket to miserable cash flow. Budget carefully for manageable growth and make sure you have safety nets (like adequate lines of credit) in place as you service larger and larger accounts.
  • Human resources challenges. My favorite story comes from a former colleague who once had to mediate between two employees  whose argument had resulted in one of them being duct-taped to their desk chair. (See, truth really is stranger than fiction!) Make sure you have competent HR assistance. HR regulations change constantly and when you run into problems you’ll be glad you have professional guidance. It needn’t be in-house – there are plenty of professionals who can lend a hand on a part-time or interim basis.
  • Poor tax planning. Make sure you do not outgrow your financial advisors. A good CPA who knows your business and your industry can be worth their weight in gold – literally.

It’s not easy but by surrounding yourself with people who know more than you do about these things you can navigate the treacherous waters.

I must say we did a pretty good job with the map of Africa although we did have to retrofit (a forgotten) Madagascar into the picture. Not sure I’ll be able to sleep comfortably though. I think I ate a little too much of the Indian Ocean.

What’s the strangest business task you’ve ever taken on? Send a note to sarah@dayonebusinessservices.com – if I use it I’ll feature your business.

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