Every small business owner dreams of growing their company, but scaling your business to match its growth can present a unique set of challenges.
Mark Pettit, CFO at Connect Ventures, has experienced the venture capital firm’s growth firsthand. And while the expansion of a company is exciting, it also requires diligent forethought and planning.
We recently interviewed Mark on The CFO Playbook, where he talked about growing the finance side of Connect Ventures over the past five years and his changing role as CFO.
Check out a few growth hacks Mark learned along the way:
You want to make the best use of your digital toolset, which means choosing software that can accommodate your business both now and in the future.
If you pick good systems early on, Mark says it will ease the transition as you begin to scale your company:
‘I think everyone starts on Excel, and when you have a few portfolio companies, a few rounds and investments, it’s easy to manage. But it can quite quickly get out of hand. And if you don’t plan ahead, you’re then catching up on years’ worth of data and trying to transfer that across.’
Once you have the right tools in place, it’s important time to focus on his second piece of advice:
The success of an activity is determined by the practices set behind it. Is your process defined, or are you reinventing the wheel each time?
By proactively recording the processes for activities that need to be repeated every few months, Mark feels better equipped when facing similar problems in the future:
‘To have that record of the steps that we went through the last time we did this has proved a really powerful tool, and it means that you get it done much more quickly the second time.’
If you create reusable templates and manuals that outline your processes now, you’ll save yourself a lot of time on your journey to growth.
In smaller companies, you often find yourself handling a wide assortment of tasks. But as your company grows internally, your tasks expand with it, meaning you need to become a proactive delegator.
Mark admits learning to delegate is quite difficult, particularly if you love what you do. Having worked solo for three years before Connect Ventures hired a second finance team member, Mark was used to doing everything himself and struggled to give up the tasks he enjoyed.
Delegating means giving up control, which can be a challenging mindset to overcome, according to Mark:
‘You have to hand stuff over not only for your team’s development but so that you can move on and pick up the other things that are being expected of you.’
As you grow with your company, learn to use every tool and helping hand available to you so you can remain focused on the big picture.
Growing companies need to be mindful of who they hire.
At Connect Ventures, the team consists of seven people, so hiring even one more person could dramatically shift the culture of the business, according to Mark, which is why it is vital to find someone who truly fits the vision of the company.
Along with culture fit, you should also look for someone who can fill in the gaps, Mark says:
‘We think about what we’re good at and what we’re not good at within the finance team specifically, and we need that person to be the person who can pick up the things, frankly, that we are a bit weaker at.’
The fast-paced environment of a growing business also requires a flexible mindset and an openness to going above and beyond the job description.
Culture, skills, and agility – focus on finding these three traits to create a thriving team.
As Mark found after five years at Connect Ventures, it takes a lot to keep up with a growing company, which can make being a part of one both exciting and challenging.
But if you can pick the right software providers early on, learn how to delegate as your role expands, and find the right people to add to your team, you will be prepared for the growing pains along the way.