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How to minimise growing pains as you grow a one million pound accountancy practice

by | Mar 7, 2018 | AMC Book Extracts, Strategy

Typically any firm is in one of the 5 stages of growth, as per the Growing Pains Model. The Growing Pains Model can be used to analyse what needs to change to move you from whatever stage you are in to the next stage of growth. This blog post explores the Growing Pains Model

This blog post is taken from an extract of ‘The Accountants Millionaires’ Club: How to build a highly profitable £1 million practice while working fewer hours with less stress’

 

The Growing Pains Model

As every firm grows they will hit difficult stages of growth. Often called growing pains. The Growing Pains model identifies when these growing pains will occur and how you can move quickly to reestablish growth and resolve your firm’s growing pains.

Stage 1: New Beginnings

This stage is characterised by rollercoastering emotions, firefighting and very often ‘feast or famine’. There is often an absence of established systems, process or infrastructure to drive the growth. It can seem like it is always one step forward and two steps back. As growth increases it comes to the first of the Brick Walls, the Stuck Brick Wall. When your practice is in this stage, you will often hear people say they are stuck. The only way to get through the Stuck Brick Wall is to invest time and resource on defining your purpose (Why are we doing this?), responsibilities (Who is responsible for what?), investing in your identity (What will we be known for?), the relationships you surround yourself with and the skills people need to get to the next stage of growth.

Stage 2: Early Growth

The Early Growth stage starts when a business exits the Stuck Brick Wall. This stage starts with calmness and confidence. Typically plans will now have been made and these are being implemented. Steady and sustainable growth (the early green shoots of growth) starts to happen. This growth continues until you hit the second brick wall, the Comfort Brick Wall. You may even hear people say that we’ve grown to a point where we are now comfortable, but not where we need to get to. Not every business will hit the Comfort Brick Wall. Many will sail through this. This is where growth slows because you’ve grown enough to stop feeling the pain that propelled you forward. The only way to get through this brick wall is to refocus on your purpose (Why are you doing this?)  and responsibilities (Who needs to do What by When?).

Stage 3: Creaking

The previously steady and sustainable growth starts to level off in this stage. Typically, this is because one essential element of the business model or operation is now running at capacity and cannot be scaled up any further. For example, this could be the point where the owner of the firm realises that the structure that got them to this point, will not take them to the next point of their growth. At the end of this stage, businesses experience the third brick wall, the Transition Brick Wall. After a period of high emotion, the business starts to internally reflect on what it wants and needs going forward. This could take the form of a complete rethink of the business model. Similar to the Stuck Brick Wall, the only way through this brick wall is to focus and invest time and energy on defining your purpose, responsibilities, investing in your identity, relationships and skills. To get through the Transition Brick Wall also takes an investment in processes and structure. As a result of the internal focus and soul-searching which goes on in the Transition Brick Wall, the business typically takes a decision about its future growth: whether to plateau and eventually decline or grow further.

Stage 4: New Horizons

The business now steadily grows.