Quality vs Growth

Arla Wallace is an accounting professional with over 20 years experience. She spent several years working for both publicly-traded and private entities before founding her own business. Today she partners with small business owners so they can focus on operations while leaving the responsibility of staying on top of accounting tasks to her. She is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a Certified ProAdvisor for Quickbooks Online.

Quality vs Growth

Entrepreneur Sara Blakely founded Spanx in 1998 with $5,000 in personal savings. Over the next 15 year period, sales grew from $4M to $10M. During this period, Blakely retained 100% control of the company, self-funding the business from the very beginning. Perhaps most inspiring from this business success story, Spanx stayed true to customers and didn’t compromise quality in the growth phase.

As a small business owner, there will be opportunities to grow and opportunities to scale. When done so at the right time and with the right focus, you can help your business balance growth while maintaining product or service quality.

Product/ Service Quality

Quality involves meeting product requirements and satisfying customers. Unlike big businesses, small business owners are more successful at serving customers with specific needs. Understanding the whys behind what your customer needs from you and what makes you different, will help you differentiate your product or service from large businesses.

Quality takes time. And, managing quality is vital to small business success. Continual improvement to the customer value proposition can set your business apart from the competition. Rarely do customers choose your product or service on price alone. Rather, customers often choose a product or service based on quality.

While quality enables a business to command a higher price; poor product or service quality can be damaging. Customers will seek alternatives when expectations are not met. Better quality often lends itself to better results and a better reputation, but poor quality can lead to increased costs. The costs of defective products, legal bills, and additional production can rise when quality is not delivered.

Growth

Growth entails adding revenue at the same rate as costs; for every client gained, more help is hired to service the client. If done right and provided funding is available, growth can bring more profits and stability to a small business. Growth can also help a business position itself to withstand downturns and market fluctuations in the future.

Growth is not without risks. Because growth is progressive, the owner and employees must be open to learn and adapt. Through planning, processes and controls must be implemented and employees trained. However, growth can overwhelm processes, people, and controls in a small business. As growth occurs, the small business owner will lose the capacity to be hands-on every task. Instead, tasks will have to be delegated to others. If the right people aren’t in place, quality can suffer as owner control decreases. In this case, it is wise to regain control and focus on product and service quality.

Growth is dependent on several factors at both the company level and the owner level. Company level factors include access to financial resources and personnel resources. Borrowing power and quality of employees can influence whether growth will be successful. Owner level factors include goals for self and for the business as well as owner strategic ability. Owners that are able to identify weaknesses and make improvements during growth can effect positive change.

Small businesses are unique, but all will face similar issues in growth. Those entrepreneurs with a drive that is connected to meeting quality specifications and the needs of customers, will be better equipped to handle challenges along the way.