Companies who experience sudden peaks in growth are often caught off guard. It is therefore important your business plan includes provisions to deal with long term scalability.
If you’ve been around kids when they’re experiencing one of their surprising growth spurts, you may have heard them complaining about growing pains.
Many business experience the same pattern of sudden peaks and long plateaus as their online business expands.
If they aren’t well prepared for scaling their online infrastructure, they too experience growing pains. The difference is that kids just keep getting bigger; the pains are an annoyance, but they don’t inhibit growth. The same is not true of business, where growing pains can be a serious impediment to revenue and can sometimes put an end to a business altogether.
Any decent business manager knows that they need to be ready to scale their business and have the processes in place to make that happen: recruitment, supply chains, cash-flow planning, and so on. What they often neglect to do is to ensure that their online presence, the digital manifestation of their “real-world” business structure, needs exactly the same care and attention. Otherwise, they’re going to be caught out when those growth spurts do come.
A lot of start-ups begin with the rough and ready mindset for their network and server infrastructure: if it’s working now, that’s good enough. What they fail to recognize is that the very hacks and “good enough for now” solutions they implement to get off the ground are going to bite them in the behind when it comes to future growth. Many solutions that work right now – that solve some immediate problem – are inherently un-scalable.
For example, if you start off with a single server held together with metaphorical duct tape, scripts created to solve problems as they arise (which often remain undocumented), and sludgy processes that work just well enough, it’s going to be exceedingly tricky – and expensive – to replicate that set-up across multiple servers.
A huge amount of time can be wasted ripping out the guts of a growing site and replacing it with more scalable technology while at the same time keeping it up-and-running in the short term. Many of those growing pains can be avoided if businesses choose to plan for future growth when they’re first building a site. However, it’s not always easy to think that way.
When a business is young, the primary concern is just to get things together and working well enough to start bringing in users. But putting in the work right at the beginning, when scaling isn’t really an issue, can reap dividends in the future as the business smoothly scales without growing pains.