All businesses experience growing pains, but the focus of this blog is on small businesses. Small businesses usually lack the resources of larger businesses. Not just financially but also with systems and processes.

Growing pains for small businesses can be especially painful for several reasons and often come down to a lack of preparation and communication.

Let’s start with identifying the five stages of growth

  1. Idea/start-up/existence
  2. Survival
  3. Success
  4. Take-off
  5. Maturity

Many of the growing pains start to happen between survival and success. That’s when decisions on how to grow and how to finance that growth start to pop up and continue throughout the stages. Systems and processes that are already in place become stretched and adding staff becomes a necessity.  Up to that point, small business owners are wearing a lot of hats, and not only control but also tend to be a part of everything that is going on. That’s not a great recipe for balancing personal and professional goals. Growing also means giving up some of that control through delegation, which can be very hard to do. However, without delegation, small business owners and leaders become a limiting factor to the growth and future success.

Here are a few steps to take to prepare for your growing pains and make them less painful.

Clear vision

  • Where do you want to take this business? 
    • Start with a vision and/or mission statement – what’s your purpose?
    • Write down your short- and long-term goals – what does success look like?
    • Utilize key performance indicators (KPIs) to validate progress.
  • What is the exit strategy (5 options) and are you growing towards it?
    • Merger & Acquisition (M&A)
    • Initial Public Offering (IPO)
    • Sell to friend, family, or legacy
    • Source of income
    • Liquidation & close

Will the current systems and processes support growth?

  • CRM – can it handle the additional users and clients now and three to five years from now?
  • Technology – is current technology up to the task? Is it upgradable?
  • Standard operating procedure (SOP) manual – is it current? 
  • Human resources (HR) – outsourced or in-house?

Key roles & responsibilities

  • Is your org chart up to date?
  • Are roles clearly defined?
  • Are job descriptions accurate?


  • Be proactive when hiring and hire before you need to hire. How long to onboard PROPERLY?
  • Determine if this needs to be a support or revenue-generating position?
  • Calculate the breakeven for each.

Grow smart, not fast

  • Invest in processes to scale. 
  • Exercise fiscal responsibility.

Learning to say no

  • Set boundaries with employees and clients.
  • Firing clients is inevitable, learn from the red flags and do not repeat YOUR mistake

Become a better leader and build future leaders.

  • Invest in your development.
  • Invest in employee development.


  • Build a culture that inspires clients & employees to advocate for you as an employer.
  • Ask yourself why anyone would want to work for you?
  • Recognition goes a long way.
  • Always give back.

Be nimble  

  • Change direction, when necessary, not all ideas are homeruns!

Additional thoughts.

  • A growth mindset is a belief that skills & abilities can improve & failures are opportunities.
  • Growing pains are often a result of a lack of prep and poor communication.

Growing pains are all part of growing. However, with proper planning and foresight, the pain can be minimized and even appreciated for what it represents.

Stay green & growing and remember progress not perfection!

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About Bill McDevitt

Hi! I’m Bill, a small business coach and founder of Top of the World Coaching. No matter what stage your company is currently in, I want to help you grow and develop as an entrepreneur, franchise owner, or business executive. 

I’m passionate about helping business owners and executives succeed. I am skilled at coaching business development, growth, and profitability to all levels of entrepreneurs and executives. 

Whether you’re a seasoned executive or a budding entrepreneur, I can help you attain your goals by implementing a strategy that works. Your success is my success. Let’s work together to develop a strategy that will improve your company’s ROI. This will let you spend more time focusing on developing your business instead of working inside your business.

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