Let’s talk about growth and pacing

When we were a much smaller company, we found ourselves with two businesses that had some commonalities, but more disparities. We began as a retail muffin shop business, and over time, we also created a wholesale muffin batter business. Each required very different resources.

A couple of years ago, we determined we needed to expand our capacity and decided the most effective solution was to construct new docks and warehouses and turn our existing warehouse space into production space. This would require an incredible amount of coordination and resources. At the same time, we needed to find and implement a more robust ERP system, one with the ability to track lot codes through our production and distribution process. This would also require an incredible amount of coordination and resources.

We have gone through the process of selling our business a couple of times, and each time, we wanted to keep as many unknowns out of the equation as possible.

Focus your energy

In all of these situations (and others throughout our 32 years of growing our company), we made conscious decisions regarding pace and growth.

In determining which aspect of our business to give our attention to, we realized we only had so many resources and needed to choose a direction and focus. We chose wholesale and slowed down all growth on the retail side until we finally let it go so that we could devote all of our limited resources to the business we wanted to grow.

When we looked to expand, we realized we were going to need to focus all of our resources on our internal infrastructure. This meant we had to purposefully slow down projects and sales, and at the same time ramp up the pace of meetings to stay coordinated throughout the expansion and ERP implementation.

During our sales, we stayed risk averse by slowing down the pace of the new projects we took on. In this situation, it was worth the peace of mind to maybe miss out on an opportunity, but not get wrapped up in a circumstance that could go wrong.

One step at a time

Deciding how to pace your company’s growth is never easy, but the process shouldn’t be undertaken at the expense of preparing for future growth. When you break a leg, you put all your resources into healing and plan for your next race so you’re ready once you are healthy again.

Every step you take in business prepares you to take the next. And when you face setbacks or forks in the road, sometimes you’ll need to pause and adjust in order to be confident that the next step is the right one.

Harvey Nelson is co-founder and co-CEO of Main Street Gourmet, a custom manufacturer of frozen bakery products with distribution throughout the U.S.