At mmadigital, we have experienced a period of incredibly fast growth, and while this has been a really exciting time for the business, it has not been without its challenges. CEO Dez Derry, highlights three things he’s learnt while managing this growth – location, finding the right team and keeping staff motivated.
Growth is an essential part of managing a successful and sustainable business. If you were to remain at the same size & turnover while your competitors continued to expand, you would essentially be going backwards!
Some growth journeys can be incredibly steady and controlled, while other businesses can boom much more quickly than originally envisaged. At mmadigital, we have experienced a period of incredible fast growth, and while this has been a really exciting time for the business, it has not been without its challenges! Here’s what I’ve learnt from it:
Finding the right space to accommodate a growing team
While growth has, of course, been our ambition and part of our business strategy, the rate at which this has happened has somewhat taken us by surprise. After gaining recognition as a specialist legal digital marketing agency, three years ago I made the decision to change the company’s business model to focus purely on customer acquisition on behalf of legal firms. This decision certainly paid off – in year one, we achieved a £900,000 turnover and we’re currently on track for annual turnover of £4.5 million turnover. mmadigital is now responsible for supplying leads to some of the UK’s leading law firms, capturing around 20% of the enquiries in our chosen consumer legal markets.
Our team has rapidly expanded to cater for the growing demand and as a result, we are currently on the lookout for new premises. However, much like finding a new house, sourcing a new HQ that ticks all the boxes can be time consuming and takes much longer than you have might first imagined. As well as finding a new premise that has potential to be a great new business base, there are a number of other considerations to take into account;
- Space – It’s important to strike a balance between having enough room to accommodate new recruits now and into the future, without unnecessarily paying for a huge space that you don’t need. However, you also don’t want to be moving around a lot! You need to find a good match for your growth plans that can sustain your current needs and for the longer term.
- Additional work – Whether structural or aesthetic, it’s important to bear in mind how much work will realistically need to be carried out within your office space, and the associated times and costs. Rather like a ‘project’ home purchase, a unique but unfinished office space requires careful thought. Is it really workable or it is likely to distract you from the running of the business?
- Location – If customers or clients need to be able to visit your business, it’s important that it is easy to find and accessible, so make sure you take things like road networks and public transport links into account. This is also key for your employees that will be commuting to work every day. If you were to drastically change the location of your business, it could have a big knock-on impact and may cause them to look for alternative employment closer to home. Encourage open communication with your team to find out what impact, if any, the move would have for them before committing to a certain location.
Finding the right staff with the right experience
As I’m sure many entrepreneurs and business owners will agree, recruiting the right people is one of the most difficult parts of running a business, so it’s worth investing the time and attention to get it right. Finding the right person for a role can, and often does, take months. It’s not a decision you should rush into just because you need to fill a role quickly and take some of the workload off your hands. Recruiting somebody that isn’t a good fit for the job can be even more of a drain on your time, money and resources in the long term, and you’ll essentially be back to square one in your quest for recruitment.
As a Greater Manchester-based business, mmadigital is lucky to have access to a wide pool of digital, tech and creative talent. One of the main focuses for our recruitment strategy as the business has grown is the development of our own contact centre, where our advisors assist with inbound claims enquiries for personal injury and medical negligence. We have recruited five new members of staff in this area of the business in the past two months alone.
As well as making sure that your new recruits are a good fit for the role in terms of their experience, ability and potential, it is also important to determine whether they’re a good fit for your business and existing team. Encouraging the full team and new recruit/s to get together before their initial start date can help good working relationships form, as well as helping to take the pressure off the big first day!
Once you’ve found the right people and built a solid team, it’s important to do everything in your power to retain that talent. A proper onboarding and induction process, not only to the role itself but also to the company, is the best way to continue on a good footing.
Managing an expanding team and maintaining strong company culture
It is just as important to make sure that your existing employees are as happy as your new recruits. The people that have stayed with your business, whether it be one year or ten years, should be rewarded. While it’s easy to feel like your time and attention is already stretched through periods of growth, it’s incredibly important to dedicate time and attention to your staff and stay in tune with ‘the word on the ground’. Otherwise, staff can start to feel a little disenfranchised, left behind and not the priority. Your employees need to know that they’re valued and you appreciate all their hard work – especially if they’ve stretched themselves or worked additional hours to meet demand. Team bonding activities, whether simply a few drinks after work or a fun activity (mmadigital tackled the Crystal Maze last Christmas!), are really important to keep morale high and can be a good token of appreciation.
Feedback from your employees can be incredibly valuable. What do they like about working for the company? What don’t they like? Encourage open and honest communication and make sure you act on feedback where possible to keep the business moving in a positive direction. Try to find out what sort of company your employees want to work for and how you can achieve this. Be proactive, set targets and regularly review your progress.
Wherever you are in your business journey, it’s important to make sure you are in a strong position to facilitate growth and cater for your growing team. Successful growth means actually being focused on the foundations of business and ensuring they are strong, otherwise it is difficult to sustain the growth you achieve in the long term.