15 Warning Signs That Show A Company Is Growing Too Fast

Growth is an important goal for every company, especially for a new or small business looking to gain traction. However, too much growth over a short period of time can actually be dangerous. If a business continues to scale without adequate tools and resources to handle it, it won’t be able to sustain itself in the long run.

To help you avoid this situation, Forbes Coaches Council shared some telltale signs that a business is growing too quickly. Here are 15 red flags to watch out for so that you can promptly address them and ensure healthy and sustainable growth for your company.

1. Employees Are Confused By Your Culture

Pause and look at your culture. If the company starts to feel and look as if it has either moved away from its core culture or that the employees are confused by it, that is a sure sign that it is time to slow down and reassess. Growth is great, but growing without an aligned culture will hurt more than not hiring enough people. Get ahead of your culture before it gets ahead of you. – Brooks E. Scott, Merging Path Coaching

2. You Don’t Have Scalable Processes

A lack of process is a good sign that the company has outgrown its current cycle. If the processes are the same as those for a small business, and not for a scaling business, this is normally a good sign of this problem. – Andrew Constable, Visualise Solutions

3. Your Quality Standards Aren’t Being Met

One way to tell if your company is growing too quickly is to continually assess the quality of service through customer feedback. If established quality standards are not where you expect them to be, that is an indicator that you need to address. – Brent McHugh, Christar International

4. Senior Hires Don’t Know How To Be Successful

The first marker that your company is growing too quickly is when your experienced hires aren’t clear on how to be successful and don’t know what their decision rights and success metrics are. If you have employees wondering, “How do I succeed here? I’m not feeling successful,” then you’re moving too fast and not taking the time needed to clearly define roles and integrate new hires. – Andrew Blum, The Trium Group

5. Your Resources Are Stretched Too Thin

You may be growing too quickly if you’re stretching your resources (cash, people, service and quality) beyond your normal standards of excellence. Sometimes it’s better to slow down, assess your situation and ensure that you are giving a first-class service to clients while upgrading for the long-term. – Jay McDonald, Middleton McDonald Group, Inc.

6. You Don’t Have Systems To Manage And Support Growth

It’s less a question of whether or not you are growing too quickly and more a question of, “Do we have the systems set up to manage and support our growth?” Many businesses make the mistake of thinking they can wait to build systems until they need them. By the time you need the systems, it’s too late to build them! So check your systems and ask yourself, “What will break if we grow?” – Debra Russell, Debra Russell Coaching, LLC

7. Employees Have Lost Sight Of Your Culture

Does your company emphasize company culture? If so, when rapid growth keeps you from “touching” every employee on a regular basis, they may lose sight of it. Invest time in creating cultural ambassadors. Develop their passion for the culture and charge them with carrying the culture banner throughout the company. That way, employees will be reminded to walk the company culture talk. – Ron Young, Trove, Inc.

8. You’re Taking On Business You Can’t Handle

As a business owner, I have learned not to take on business that we can’t handle. It’s not good for business when you overload your employees and make promises to clients that are impossible to complete. It’s very hard to turn business away; however, proper planning and staffing are key to accommodating growth. – Barbara Adams, CareerPro Global, Inc.

9. You’re Not Fulfilling Promises To Customers

Customer promises going unfulfilled is a sign of too-rapid growth. More clarity and structure are needed to balance the entrepreneurial spirit with systems and routines. Vision, values, organizational structure, metrics, meeting routines and agendas—all of these components, when well-defined and well-practiced, help support rapid growth, jumpstart accountability and provide focus and clarity to a growing team. – Sheryl Lyons, Culture Spark LLC

10. Team Morale Is Low

Morale is elevated when employees feel that the company has their back or is investing in them. Invest in team coaching. Surfacing the good, the bad and the ugly on the team allows a team to heal, grow, bond and perform at its best. Give your people the opportunity to live and lead at their best by helping them grow as a team. – David Taylor-Klaus, DTK Coaching, LLC

11. The Wheels Are Coming Off The Bus

Fast-growing companies are so exciting to work for until the proverbial wheels come off the bus. This likely will happen when you reach 20, 30 or 40 people. Here are some indicators that you are growing too fast: People are quitting, gossiping, feeling frustrated or bitter, working nine-plus hours a day, being unusually reticent in meetings and not getting tasks completed in time. – Natasha Ganem, Lion Leadership

12. You See A Downturn In Innovation

When you see a downturn in innovation and new ideas, that could be a sign that your staff is too busy trying to keep up with the frantic pace to be creative. Because innovation only comes when we allow our brain’s task-positive network to breathe, too much work will stifle a good idea every time. If creativity has dried up, it’s time to develop a better support system for your growth. – Erin Urban, UPPSolutions, LLC

13. You Have A False Sense Of Complacency And Ego

When speed accelerates, skill and scale are at risk. You should look out for a false sense of complacency and ego and an overestimation of your own capabilities as potential “yellow lights” in your growth journey, signaling that you need to slow down. Feedback is the breakfast of champions: Gaining feedback will help you address the blind spots in your growth journey. – Venkataraman Subramanyan, Tripura Multinational

14. There’s A Proliferation Of Subpar Middle Management

One thing we see in our work with growth companies is the proliferation of subpar middle management. As growth progresses, there is often a race to hire. This is understandable; however, almost without fail, we see subjective decisions to “fill the gap” overtake wise hiring decisions. This trade-off can eventually cost the company millions in the overhiring or rehiring of bad managers. – Henryk Krajewski, Worxera, Inc.

15. Deadlines Are Missed And Turnover Is Increasing

Deadlines are getting missed. Turnover is increasing. There are more fires to put out than proactivity happening. Employees are burning out. Many signs can signal that you are moving too fast and not staying grounded, clear and focused with your team. Growth is great, but not at a cost to your team’s performance, which is a price you didn’t expect to pay that causes long-term decreases in profit. We don’t want that! – Shelley Smith, Premier Rapport

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1. Combine Gifts, Passions And Innovation

Know who you are today by doing a fresh analysis of your gifts and passions. Use the results of your analysis as your lens for identifying unmet needs in the business world. Think outside the box by breaking away from conventional wisdom. Combining your gifts and passions with innovative ideas is foundational to a successful business that meets your and your consumers’ needs. – Ron Young, Trove, Inc.

2. Gain Clarity And Choose Metrics For Success

I’ve had numerous pro-service clients do this, and most of them have considered it. The most important thing is to have clarity about why you want to start a business. The second thing is to very carefully choose the metrics that will indicate to yourself that you are succeeding. Your “why” and your metrics will keep you grounded when the going gets tough—and it will. – Randy Shattuck, The Shattuck Group

3. Leverage Your Experience And Do A SWOT Analysis

Know your strengths, be clear on your personal motivation and leverage your current experience and insights that you have developed over the years in your industry. Think about the pains and gains your clients have experienced and gaps that have not been filled. I also recommend doing a SWOT analysis to gain clarity and alignment and to determine the value proposition. – Breshana Miller, Kairos Coaching & Consulting, LLC

4. Brainstorm With Close Friends

You can’t hesitate or keep your new business too close to your chest. You need to brainstorm with your closest friends, your professional network and those whom you trust. Bounce your ideas off of others and see if they resonate. What do they think your new business is worth? Who do they think the customers would be? Do they know someone who would buy? Have that conversation 100 times and get to work. – Jacob Warwick, ThinkWarwick

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5. Match The Commercial Proposition With The Value You Offer

It is important to match the commercial proposition with the value that you are offering. Before leaving, start researching the potential market to ensure there is a real need. When you are clear on the commercial viability, you can reverse-engineer the process to ensure the proposition fits with your personal drive and passion. – Claudine Reid, PJ’s Community Service

6. Have A Strong Support System In Place

Being an entrepreneur and working for a corporation require different mindsets. To sustain the personal drive and passion, it helps to have a strong support system in place—people who are just as passionate and driven as you and believe in the success of the new business, such as friends, a mastermind group or an experienced coach who can ensure there is a balance between work and personal well-being. – Masha Malka, The One Minute Coach

7. Don’t Follow Your Passion—Bring It To An Opportunity

Don’t follow your passion. I’d rather you bring your passion and drive to an opportunity. The first step is finding a way to improve lives in exchange for profit, then apply your natural passion and drive to improve as many of those lives as possible as efficiently as possible. Because when you do that really well, vision, momentum, growth and, eventually, profit are the results. – David Robertson, Growthpoint Coaching Co.

8. Leverage What Makes You Irreplaceable

You need to clarify the market need for what you do via research, interviews and more. In regard to fulfilling your own needs, a reflective, holistic approach is required to uncover your own personal wants, needs and values to be successful. And above all else, you must uncover something that makes you irreplaceable in the market that you serve. Get all those right and then go for it! – Linda Martin, Linda Martin Results

9. Connect With Your Four Selves

First connect with your four selves—intellectual, emotional, spiritual and physical—and be crystal clear about your purpose and commitment to it. Launching a new venture requires all your energy and commitment. Sometimes, it’s rough. Second, get deep input and feedback from those around you—both your trusted network and your more fearless critics. The wider the scope, the richer the insights. – Luis Costa, Luis Costa – coach · facilitator · speaker

10. Enroll Clients To Help Craft Your Company Vision

Get connected to your purpose, build a business plan around your core values and enroll the customers you want to serve to help craft the company vision. In doing this, you will likely find that your needs and the needs of your future customers are very aligned. Trust that a successful launch will follow and that you will have a tribe of allies ready to offer guidance and support when needed. – Emily Rogers, Emily Rogers Consulting + Coaching

11. Outline The Customer Journey And Your Sales Funnel

First, outline the customer journey to define the scope of their need. Second, outline your marketing and sales funnel. If you are not excited to do that, hire someone who is or don’t launch. If the idea of selling and marketing for hours every week does not excite you, pursue a hobby instead. Third, if you don’t have the drive or passion to build a business, get a dog. The dog will love you back every day. – Kelly Tyler Byrnes, Voyage Consulting Group

12. Experiment With A Minimum Viable Product

Take small steps. Too many people get sucked into the entrepreneurial dream without realizing how tough it can be. I would suggest experimenting with the product—take a minimum viable product (MVP) to the market and get feedback. Leaning on your personal drive, experiment with your own business identity. Too many people overestimate their passion and drive and underestimate the challenge. – Devika Das, CORE Executive Presence

13. Take An Inside-Out Approach

Start with your mission and vision. I believe, as a coach, taking an inside-out approach where executives can start exploring their passion as well as what they would see as success for this new endeavor is key. Then, we can explore the marketplace and how this would be sustained as a successful business by developing a strategic business plan. Allow your personal drive to set the tone for success. – Bryan Powell, Executive Coaching Space

14. Build A Business Around Your Retirement Dreams

Start by thinking about your retirement. If you grew your business and sold it for a killing, what would you then be doing in life? At that point, when you wouldn’t have to think about money and profits, what would you be doing with your time? That’s what you should build your business around. It’s bound to be an area where a strong customer or market need is coupled with your own passion and drive. – Vinesh Sukumaran, Vinesh Sukumaran Consulting

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