Mansoor Sarwar

By Mansoor Sarwar, Regional Technical Director at Sage Middle East

While most business owners aspire to grow their companies consistently and sustainably, growth as we know it comes with its share of growing pains – the bigger you get, the greater your challenges become.

While it’s important to stay focused on the opportunities and experiences that growth offers to your business and employees, it’s also important to prepare for any obstacles that might trip you up along the road to success.

Here are some challenges you might encounter as your business grows, and guidelines on how to tackle them.

Managing more people

As your business grows, you’ll need to hire more people to help with the additional workload. While this offers a great opportunity to bring in new skills that can take your business to the next level, an expanded workforce comes with its own set of challenges. These include increasingly complex HR and payroll administration, while also maintaining personal relationships through engaging with employees one-on-one.

Save some time by investing in cloud-based, automated HR management and payroll solutions so that you can focus on nurturing a happy, productive team. Choose a system that’s already legislatively compliant in your country and can follow your business journey from startup to scale-up to enterprise.

Changing customer needs

A growing business means a wider cross-section of customers, each with their unique needs and customer service expectations. The only way you can meet these needs is if you know what your customers want. You can do this by collecting as much data about them as possible and analysing it to uncover trends and patterns in their behaviour.

It is equally important to establish open communication channels that can help you engage with and build relationships with your customers. The best way to find out what they want and need is to ask them. While you’re at it, also obtain feedback on your service so you can uncover areas for improvement.

Unlock your business’s intelligence

A bigger business naturally produces more data that, when analysed, can help you get a better understanding of your own organisation, your people, and the markets you serve. However, this can be challenging if your data is scattered across the organisation.

Business intelligence solutions help you centralise all your information, making it easier to analyse and govern. With a holistic view of your information, you can make fast, accurate business-impacting decisions that can either help you take advantage of market developments or avoid the risks associated with them. This, in turn, makes your business more productive and efficient.

Keeping the supply chain well-oiled

Without an agile, well-functioning supply chain, you’ll find it difficult to meet customer demands, especially as you scale up your operations. As the lifeblood of your organisation, your supply chain needs to be able to accommodate your growing business and changing customer demands.

Supply chain solutions help you forecast sales patterns and better prepare for busy shopping periods, like White Friday, Shopping Festivals and Ramadan sales, local festivities and new school terms. During these peak times, you may need to temporarily expand your fleet and hire more people to ensure service delivery is not disrupted.

Supply chain software also helps you stay in touch with diverse networks of suppliers, partners and vendors, making it easier to find a replacement service provider when you need one.

New laws and regulations

As you grow, so too do your compliance responsibilities. You may also need to comply with laws that you were previously exempted from.

For example, if your annual business turnover exceeds AED375,000 in the UAE, you will need to register as a VAT vendor and start collecting 5 per cent VAT on behalf of the government. If you expand outside of the UAE to Bahrain or Saudi Arabia, for example, you will also need to collect 5 per cent VAT for those governments if you cross the revenue threshold set in those counties.

In addition, labour costs need to be reported to respective governments in the GCC region that require businesses to familiarise themselves with the labour laws of the country in which they operate.

With more people, you’ll also have to comply with increasingly complex labour and tax laws. Fortunately, you don’t need to keep up with these yourself. Cloud-based accounting, ERP and payroll solutions are immediately updated with legislation changes, ensuring your business is always compliant.

If owning and growing a business were easy, everyone would do it. Challenges make businesses more resilient and are often balanced out by a region’s strengths and opportunities.

The more obstacles you encounter and overcome, the better prepared you’ll be for whatever comes next.