There are dozens of articles and blog posts written every day about what you need to grow a business. Most tout the most obvious aspect – more money and financing, better marketing, added sales, a raving customer, etc.

Tell me something I don’t know. You need all of those things just to HAVE a business!

But, what are those more subtle things that really put you over the top? What are the competencies separating the super successful businesses from just the average ones?

One of my past clients recently asked me to help them out as they are getting frighteningly close to the point of out of control. It’s caused me to look closely at the subtle things that separate the big businesses from the privately owned ones.

Here are five competencies businesses need to make the jump to rapid growth:

– Clear vision for the future
– A mastery of delegation
– Solid key metrics for monitoring the operation
– A senior management team
– Solid and scalable processes and systems

Clear vision
A clear vision is necessary because it provides the litmus test for every decision made. If a clear vision isn’t defined, managers as well as employees don’t have any idea whether they are making the right decisions for the company.

The result is one of two possibilities. One, you spend time and resources undoing the wrong decisions. Or two, nobody is willing to make a decision and you waste valuable time answering questions every day that could easily be handled by others.

Mastery of delegation
Delegation means communicating to others and letting go! Many small business owners struggle with this competency. Add lack of a clear vision and delegation becomes difficult 10 times harder.

Delegating is more than just handing out tasks to others. That’s just doling our assignments. Delegating is all about:

Setting a direction
Providing quality expectation
Defining the performance parameters

Then you let them loose and monitor what happens. Most people just give a very simple assignment with no parameters and then wonder why they don’t get the result they expected. It’s because they never set the expectation on the front side and how success would be measured.

Key metrics for monitoring the operation
If you don’t know the cause and effect of your operation, you’re dead before you start. It’s not as hard to figure out as you may think. Note that the formulas you figured out earlier in the growth cycle will change over time. As you speed up the process the formula may change. You will no doubt look for ways to streamline the operation and squeeze more out of every resource. As you do, your baseline will change. Just make sure that you keep an eye on this and tweak it every step of the way.

Senior management team
You cannot face rapid growth alone. The primary goal during the rapid growth stage is making sure that no part of the business outpaces any other part of the business. This takes real managers at the helm of every department/function.

Without a senior management team you become the limiting factor in your business. This isn’t scalable and reduces the value of your business.

True business investors look for businesses with strong teams. This spreads the risk with a company in a way that gives confidence that a business can survive the loss of one of the key personnel.

Solid and scalable processes and systems
Finally, processes and systems are a must. If you cannot quickly and easily train someone to do a job in your business, it will slow you down.

During rapid growth one of the biggest challenges is always ramping up staff. Again, investors understand this fact. Thus they are looking that cash flow in a company is created by solid systems. This gives the business self-sustainability, and investors love that!

You easily can find 100 other things that are necessary for rapid growth. But, I have found one or more of these five competencies is always lacking in a company that is stuck and can’t seem to make the jump to rapid growth.

Funny thing about my client that called me back in to help out, they listened well in the earlier days. While they’re not quite there yet, all five of these competencies are at varying stages of development within the company. The uneasiness they feel is the expectation of what is to come. Of course, it’s never a bad idea to have your work audited to make sure you’re on the right path.

Cheryl O’Neill Gowen is president and CEO of Alternative Funding Options. She works with business owners seeking cash flow from non-traditional sources, drawing on more than 30 years’ experience in banking, financing and staffing. Contact her

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