New growth means extra work. Here are three strategies for managing it.
As a business leader, you must always have your eyes on the horizon. Looking for adjacent consumer needs or gaps in the marketplace is essential to moving your business into the future. But you must always nurture your current business in order to finance future growth.
How then do you balance cultivating your existing business with developing areas of growth? There are three ways to proceed, with pros and cons to each, and communicating these efforts to your team members properly is essential for positive results.
Use Existing Staff
Designate a task force, either part-time or full-time, from within your organization.
Pros // This approach is effective if your new venture is an extension of your existing brand. Your people already know your industry, your customer and your infrastructure. They will know if this new business aligns with your current operations, and if the status quo is the right model.
Cons // You pull people away from the work that drives revenue today. If you’re using your team efficiently, there is little room for expanding responsibilities. Introducing an increased workload adds pressure, and productivity can suffer. Also, internal people may lack outside experience, which can be crucial for looking in new directions and developing new solutions.
Communicating this change // You’re asking more of your people, but you’ve chosen them because they are valuable contributors. The assignment is temporary, and the expectation of hours devoted should be made clear. It’s also an exciting opportunity for individual growth. You may consider an incentive program based on clearly defined results. You may even be able to offer new positions in this area if their efforts lead to success.
Hire full-time people with the new skills needed to work with a select group of current employees.
Pros // Bringing in people with experience targeted toward your new venture can shorten your learning curve. And new people, with new skills and new ideas, can energize your entire organization. Your current employees will be better able to keep their focus on driving your existing business while a select few focus on leading expansion.
Cons // Investing in new permanent people before a new revenue stream is in place is a potentially huge risk, with the the expense of salary, insurance and other benefits. You must also devote resources to onboarding new employees into the company and its culture.
Communicating this change // The role your current people play is as vital as ever—both those working on current business, as well as those working on the new venture. Also, you must ensure your new people feel like welcome additions to your organization.
Outsource a group of experts to work with your internal people to develop and launch a new business venture.
Pros // This is a good choice if your venture is outside your current scope, and you don’t have the knowledge or capacity to take on all this work internally. The right outsourced talent will bring a wide range of new skills, which will jump-start your learning curve. Outsourcing is increasingly popular for its long-term cost savings, and there are independent contractors who specialize in helping companies introduce new-to-the-world products and services.
Cons // Your existing employees may feel threatened by outsourced work. Even many high-level executives are not fond of someone with the title of “consultant.” This choice will still involve the time of some highly valued employees because eventually the consultant will leave and your employees will own this new venture.
Communicating this change // This outsourced group is temporary. Everyone’s current responsibilities are still crucial. Working with outside experts can be educational and energizing. And when the new venture is up and running, the outsourced group will move on, and all the positive results of your newly growing business will be shared by everyone in your organization.
Whichever option you choose, weigh the pros and cons of a new venture through the lens of the project itself and your company’s capacity. Growth is essential, and as a leader, it falls upon you to navigate that growth. New customers are out there, and discovering and capitalizing on them can be some of the most important and rewarding work you do.