Launching a business and getting it off the ground is one of the most challenging times a business owner will ever face, but the fun doesn't stop there. Taking the business to the next level and finding its own distinct place in the market can be just as challenging as the initial launch.

Figures from the Scale-Up Institute show that fewer than 4% of all UK startups have ten or more employees after ten years of existence. Clearly then, scaling a business isn't an easy thing to do. Such discouraging statistics could deter even the most enthusiastic innovators.

For an insight into the challenges most growing businesses face, we spoke to Vasco de Castro, the business development director at the office fruit delivery company Fruitful Office, and asked him for some of the biggest hurdles he faced when scaling his business from an initial set up in London to a company that now operates in multiple locations across Europe.

Hiring the right people

The first piece of advice  from Vasco is highlighting the importance of hiring the right talent, it's so important and the cost of recruitment is so high that scaling businesses shouldn't fill key roles on the basis of a 20-minute interview alone. Designing a more thorough recruitment process that involves behavioural profiling, skills testing and scenario based questioning can all help to get the right people in place. Paying for specialist help in this process is also recommended, particularly when you're hiring for the long-term. This adds risk to the venture due to the rising capital costs in acquiring staff, but it may well be the best money you spend as you're investing in the foundation of your business. It's impossible to scale without the right support beneath you to take the reins.

Another common mistake growing businesses make is leaving it until they are desperate to fill a position before they start the recruitment process. This can result in a high lost opportunity cost as the staff are not in place to take on new projects and continue to grow the business.

Finding funding

Scaling businesses will usually need to explore funding options to take them to the next level. Typically, personal savings, family and friends and bank loans provide the capital to get the luckier startups off the ground, but they will not be sufficient to provide the finance growing businesses need, especially when considering impacting into a new market in an entirely different country where your 'brand clout' counts for naught. Deciding between debt and equity finance is one of the biggest factors for a business owner to consider. Both will have serious implications for the business so it's important to think carefully.

Rapid growth can also put a strain on cash flow as new orders are taken on before customer payments have been received. This can cause the business to grind to a halt. Invoice financing is one form of finance growing businesses might consider to maintain a healthy level of cash flow. It's always wise to provide yourself with a buffer zone and anticipate invoice payment delays of up to 3 or 4 months, especially when working with new business where the reliability of the relationship is unpredictable.

Creating processes to support growth

Businesses that don't put the right process in place can struggle as it grows. It's commonly the case that processes which work well for y employees will not be so effective for 30 employees. For this reason, operations need to be regularly reviewed, with some simplified and others added, to make sure they support the business's growth.

It's also important to realise that just because the business is growing, it doesn't mean you need to hire additional resources in-house. Depending on your market and business model, outsourcing can be an excellent way of increasing capacity without the cumbersome logistics of in-house employment.

Weathering unprecedented storms

The last few years have thrown a plethora of unexpected roadblocks to businesses of all industries and varying scales. From circumventing the logistical difficulties of Brexit and then surviving not only the immediate Covid lockdowns but also adjusting to the new normal of many employers pivoting to a work from home culture has been a colossal challenge for us. We have had to become leaner and more innovative with our core product offerings.

We could only survive these storms (where many of our competitors could not) thanks to all our collective ground work over the years in building the right team and developing the rigorous processes required for us to remain efficient and profitable in the most austere of times.

What are the biggest challenges you've faced when growing a business?