10 Signs of Uncontrolled Business Growth
Expanding your business is a smart goal to have, and it is often a sign that things are going well. But as with most things, too much too fast can have negative repercussions—and growth that happens too quickly can ultimately inhibit the success of a company. The following are signs that a business may be growing out of control, from small-business expert Frances McGuckin’s book Taking Your Business to the Next Level: An Essential Step-by-Step Success Plan for Small Business.1
1. Unanswered bills and correspondence are piling up.
The inability to keep up with day-to-day correspondence and inquiries—or intentionally putting off addressing your company’s bills and payments—is a telltale sign that your business may be taking on too much too fast.
2. Suppliers and vendors are reaching out to secure payment of overdue accounts.
If suppliers are having to contact you for payments that are overdue, you should consider cutting costs and scaling back where you can in order to fulfill the financial obligations of these professional relationships.
3. Money disappears quicker than it comes in.
Another sign of unmanageable growth is money flow. If you find yourself spending more than you are earning in order to keep up with demands, that’s a sign things need to slow down—and fast—before you find yourself in financial trouble.
4. The pressure, fatigue, and stress you feel is ongoing and steadily growing.
Though feeling this way may happen from time to time no matter where you work, it should never be constant. If the pressure, exhaustion, and worry you feel is unrelenting, it’s time to re-evaluate your situation—even if it means curbing the expansion of your company to catch your breath.
5. The tedious but important administrative duties are being neglected.
More and more, if the growth of your company is out of control, you will find duties falling by the wayside. Be mindful of this aspect, as failing to perform specific tasks can be a slippery slope that leads to bigger business problems.
6. When the phone rings, your dread answering it—and you don’t return calls promptly.
You may do this ordinarily, or perhaps you never have before and recently caught yourself muttering about having to answer a call or ignoring it completely. Sometimes this avoidance can be directly attributed to the overwhelming nature of operating a business that you’re unable to keep up with.
7. Your owed taxes and government payments have been moved to the back burner.
Late and unpaid dues are often thought to be a sign that business isn’t growing fast enough. But like the overdue supplier accounts mentioned above, the inability to fulfill tax obligations and government payments can actually be a sign that you’re unable to keep up with how quick your business is growing.
8. Your records and books are falling behind.
Record keeping is of the utmost importance for the successful operation of your business. It helps you to manage your accounts, interests, taxes, and working costs effectively, which will save you time and money. When business is growing out of control, the quality of your record keeping may begin to falter. Not only is this a bad business practice, but it becomes more and more difficult to correct over time.
9. You’re losing track of how much is owed by customers or to vendors.
Similar to the other financial issues listed, not having a grasp on what you are owed and what is due to suppliers and vendors is a sure sign that business may be growing out of control.
10. You’re beginning to hear complaints from family that you are difficult to live with.
If this sentiment is timed with the expansion and operation of your business, it may be a sign that things are getting out of control at work. When this happens, it’s common for our stress and exhaustion to worry and bother those around us. Be open to feedback from friends and family, as it may give you some insight about the status of your business.
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1Source: McGuckin, Frances. Taking Your Business to the Next Level: An Essential Step-by-Step Success Plan for Small Business. Naperville: Sourcebooks, Inc. 2005.
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