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Grow your business: Scaling your staff seamlessly

Author: Mike Elgan

The joy of being a business owner is spending your time doing what you love. In fact, the 2021 Small Business Trends survey found the leading motivations for people starting a small business included the desire to be their own boss, to pursue their passions, or because an opportunity presented itself. But how do you grow your business online?

The 5 stages of small business growth

The seminal Harvard Business Review article "The Five Stages of Small Business Growth" provides a useful framework for understanding some of the developmental challenges you should consider when thinking about how to grow your small business. The five stages of business development are:

  1. Existence: The company's strategy is to survive. The owner is the key doer and decision-maker—maybe the only one.
  2. Survival: The business has shown it can make money, but can it make enough to allow further investments to facilitate growth?
  3. Success: The business has become profitable, with the key decision now to remain at this level or take on a degree of risk to grow your business. There is normally a well-established management structure involved in planning and strategy.
  4. Take-off: The business is very successful and poised to become a big business. This is the point where many small businesses fail because they either try to grow too fast and run out of cash or a lack of effective delegation makes the company unworkable.
  5. Resource maturity: The company focuses on consolidation, management is decentralized, systems are well-developed and the owner and the business are quite distinct, both operationally and financially.

Following these five stages can help you to develop a strong foundation for your small business that will eventually allow it to grow into the company that you want it to be.

Services for growth and complexity

As you grow your business, it gets more complex. That complexity makes it more important to collaborate with your employees and delegate. In order to do so effectively and reach resource maturity, you have to have the right systems and tools in place—so as your business gets increasingly complex, you and your employees can keep up. Chief among these systems are the right communication and collaboration tools, enabling teams to move quickly, serve customers and stay on the same page.

The Harvard Business Review model may make it seem like growth is linear, as they mention that anyone can use their scheme to evaluate a small business —even for those that first appear as exceptions. In truth, many businesses may rise and fall between different situations and levels of growth.

Therefore, a key question for how to grow your small business is: Can your systems keep the business up and running—and even enable innovation and agility—as you grow or to support your business' specific needs? One way to do this is to use the Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) model, which provides small businesses the flexibility to pivot in situations of growth. NaaS is a secure, cost-effective, subscription-based model that lets businesses of all sizes consume network infrastructure on-demand and as needed. It virtualizes hardware platforms such as servers, routing, storage, and switching devices. It is relevant to all small businesses but is particularly useful if you are considering how to grow your business online.

NaaS works seamlessly with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) options such as Salesforce, Office365 or Adobe Creative Cloud, which similarly allow you to scale as you grow your business. NaaS costs are predictable, and it lowers risk, downtime, training, and countless hours for provisioning, maintaining, securing, and adding to in-house equipment. NaaS allows organizations to deploy and try new technologies without the need to buy additional networking equipment that runs the risk of becoming outdated as technology advances.

How collaboration tools help increase small business flexibility

Whether talking with your favorite customer, problem-solving with your only employee out on the road, or delegating important tasks to your new manager, getting your communication and collaboration right will be a crucial step in how to grow your small business.

You can also opt for unified communications solutions that are designed to scale with your small business growth and provide a mobile-first business phone system with everything employees need to communicate in the office and on the go. One Talk is a multi-line telephone solution connecting your office phone to your mobile devices, providing business telephone features on any of your common devices, which means fewer missed calls, more opportunities to connect and more flexibility as a growing, changing business.

Having a single provider to obtain your unified communications services brings phone calls, video calls, voicemail, messaging, desktop sharing, and other communications services together, providing the ability to work seamlessly in the office, at home, or on the go. 

How to grow your small business

As the Harvard Business Review identifies, some small business owners find that growth requires looking at new management and communication strategies. Business managers can often drive the growth they're seeking by delegating larger responsibilities to new branches of the company, which can help them focus on the potential avenues for growth and other projects they are passionate about.

The right technology can help small business owners stay in charge and work on what they are passionate about, while also providing the flexibility needed to grow their business. This requires services that can scale with the company and the right tools to allow employees to collaborate not only with each other, but with partners, suppliers and of course customers.

Learn more about how to grow your small business by accelerating innovation, increasing reliability and making your business more agile.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.