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Four Common Mistakes SME Owners Make when Growing Their Business

Research has shown that there are four common mistakes SME owners make when growing their business. The infancy of any business is difficult. It does not matter if you run a small seafood stall, a marketing agency or a private medical practice – you will be struggling for the first few months and sometimes even years.

Once you survive these earliest days and you put your company on stable legs, you might feel the urge to relax and take things easier. This new period of growth can be handled with a more relaxed approach, right?


Growing your SME without a plan and in a haphazard way can ruin your business. Not only can it slow down your growth, but it can undo everything good that you had done previously.

business plan photo

But, what exactly are the most common and serious mistakes SME owners make when growing their business?

1. Hiring the wrong people

When an SME grows, more often than not, the company needs to take on more employees. In many cases, this is not done properly and companies end up with half a dozen new employees who need months before they are productive and who only disrupt the established company culture.

This happens because most SME owners have little to no experience in HR and because their hiring skills are limited.

The best way to avoid this is to brush up on one’s hiring skills and to learn about the virtues of a structured hiring process. Another good idea would be to invest in recruitment software for SMEs, such as, for example, Recruiterbox.

2. Taking on too much

It seems almost counter-intuitive to start refusing jobs and contracts once your business starts to grow. Isn’t that the whole purpose of growing? Taking on more work and making more money?

To a certain point, it is, definitely. That being said, there is also such a thing as biting off more than you can chew and this is the quickest way to mess up your SME growth.

By taking on too much, you will most likely have to compromise the quality of the work you do and the service or product you provide. All of a sudden, you are not that tiny little company that does a fantastic job every single time.

You become that bland company that does an okay job, but there are dozen more such companies.

Some SME owners make even bigger mistakes spurred on by a newfound sense of greed. For instance, they take out enormous loans instead of sticking with SME loan providers like ALC Commercial. They expand their offices more than they need to.

The money starts disappearing and there is no way to make up for all these unnecessary and overambitious investments.

3. Not changing anything

Running a growing business is a whole different kind of work than running a business that’s just started up. Growth comes with more responsibilities, with more complexity and with a need for a more structured approach.

It is not the same taking care of three clients and taking care of thirty-three clients.

Believe it or not, but many SMEs make the mistake and think they can do everything the same. This is just not the case. New circumstances and responsibilities require new approaches and solutions.

One of the most important things to do is to instil a sense of structure into how you do things as this will help you track how everything goes and make changes to processes that are not showing results.

4. Micromanaging

When your business is just starting up, it is very likely that you will have to micromanage everything. You can still keep an eye on everything and the chances are things will fall apart unless you tighten everything up regularly.

When your SME starts to grow, however, sticking to micromanagement becomes a huge mistake.

For one, it will not allow other people in your company to grow and this is never a good idea. Also, it will take a huge toll on you as the business owner. Instead of focusing on the big picture, you will be bogged down in miniscule tasks and details that you can easily delegate to someone else.

Perhaps you did your own online marketing, but now it’s time to hire a professional agency.

Even the most obsessed business owners and CEOs know how to delegate and how to focus on what really matters.

Closing Word

Managing a growing business is a difficult task, perhaps even more difficult than getting it on its feet. Still, a bit of common sense can go a long way.

As long as you remember what your company is really about, and avoid these four common mistakes, you should be okay.

James Burbank
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