Tactics to handle growing pains.

By Jeanette Armbrust

Owning a growing business. it's a positive situation that most business owners hope to be in. However, reaching the growth stage is only half the battle. In order to minimize growing pains and welcome change, there are certain preparations and tactics business owners should keep in mind.

Have a plan.

It's not common to get into a car and start driving without a destination. The same goes for owning and operating a business. When starting a business, it's necessary to have an end goal, and this end goal should be the first step. Create a five-year plan that maps out what the business should look like in the long-term future. A well-thought-out plan will allow business owners to focus on day-to-day operations, as opposed to worrying about where a business will be in a week, month or year. Once a long-term plan is determined, it is much easier to establish short-term annual goals that will direct a business to the desired "destination."

Set strategic goals.

As a business leader, it's necessary to have goals. If you don't set goals for your company, no one else will. Additionally, these goals should strategically trickle down to individual employees. What can each employee do every month, quarter and year to align with-and reach-the company's overall goals? As a business grows, and owners and employees become engrained in day-to-day tasks, these strategic goals can act as necessary checkpoints to ensure that every individual is on track and contributing to both the company's short- and long-term plans.

Talk to your employees on a regular basis.

Whether an employee is a recent hire or a company veteran, communication is crucial. Checking in and holding consistent communication with employees ensures that everyone is on the same page, which is applicable to all aspects of the business, including values, goals, mission statements, policies, maintaining the proper environment and overall employee satisfaction.

Get out of your day-to-day routine.

At least once a year, business owners should take a step back and remove themselves from the everyday activities of running a business. It's easy to get caught up in a routine, and when this happens, it's even easier to lose sight of where the business is headed. Pull together key leaders and take a retreat. Momentarily stepping away provides the opportunity to strategize, think about the big picture and ask the hard-hitting questions: Is progress being made toward the short- and long-term goals? Where does the company want to be in five years? How can we be the best in the industry? During this time away, be sure to prioritize next steps and walk away with a timeline.

Invest in yourself.

Growth is impossible without continued learning. This equally applies to individuals as it does to a business as a whole. In addition to educational opportunities, networking is a fantastic way to invest in yourself. Creating a core group of knowledgeable people and fellow business owners provides a network of individuals to bounce ideas off of, to share successes with and also voice frustrations to when you're not able to do so with employees. Having an outlet outside of the company often provides a fresh perspective and gives an extra boost of confidence to walk into the business each day as its biggest cheerleader.

Jeanette Armbrust is the founder and CEO of Skyline Exhibits of Central Ohio, a full-service trade show marketing company. Jeanette is also a past president of The National Association of Women Business Owners Columbus chapter and currently serves on the board of the national organization in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at jeanette@skylineohio.com