5 Tips - How To Scale Up Your Business
Whatever the business model, the time comes when economic growth compels business leaders to scale. Each company’s success depends on knowing how to successfully scale, in fact, because otherwise, the whole business will crumble under the weight of new demand.
Perhaps you’re feeling excited at the prospect of growth. Perhaps you’re focused on serving existing customers in new ways, or perhaps on new customer acquisition. Perhaps you’re just eager to see the business thrive with important tasks and internal processes adjusted to make everyone’s life easier.
Significant growth requires a scaling process to both meet demand and maintain that trend moving forward. Leadership skills on the part of the small business owner are required to start the process on solid footing. Then, each unique business will need its own focus to scale effectively—but there are some scaling strategies that every business uses to get started.
Browse the most popular business owners or venture capital websites, and you’ll see that everyone these days tends to focus on advice for new business start-ups. With the failure rate of new businesses, though, it makes more sense to focus business leaders on the growing pains of successful businesses in stage two and ready to scale.
The more success that these businesses see with better scale-up strategies, the more money created for the economy at large, and the more new employees with dynamic new jobs. That’s a win-win if ever we’ve seen one.
Keep reading for those fundamental 5 tips for scaling.
It’s true, we have to stop and say something first:
Do not attempt scaling your business until you’re truly seeing more customer or revenue growth than you can handle. You should be sitting on a thriving second-stage business model and be looking at supporting more business with less effort. This demand has to be there first.
Most companies think of scaling as covering new markets or acquiring new business. Scaling can, indeed, enable companies to handle a sudden influx of customers or serve current customers better. But first, know which opportunity you’re facing before you try to scale your business.
Another word of caution: scaling does mean simplifying things like operations and delivery, but it does not mean paying the same rate you’re paying now. You will invest more to scale your business. Just like the last thing you want to pull back in a struggling business is marketing, the last thing you want to prioritize when scaling is spending less on your employees, processes, or customer.
The companies ready to scale will have the capital and won’t be scared to spend it. The successfully scaled company enjoys success on the other side with more employees delivering more services to more customers, meaning revenue grows exponentially.
Scaling a service business has to take special heed of this customer-centric reality because more customers will always mean more employees to provide those services.
Organic growth is scaling that’s achieved by increasing revenue without taking on new costs. This happens as brands build a solid customer base. That growth has a limit, however, because there will come a point when business owners can’t take on any more business with the current operational capacity.
That’s where these 5 tips to grow your business in an intention scaling up strategy comes into play.
1. Understand your niche
Understanding your niche means two things:
- Understanding your key competitors
- Understanding your competitive advantage over each
To dominate your niche and scale up in a space with multiple existing brands, start by updating your competitor research. When was the last time you checked on key competitors?
Each competitor’s marketing is going to be your entry point to how that brand makes money. What can you tell about their customers based on the brand’s social media policies? What kind of growth do you think each company has seen in the market? What’s driven the success of these companies?
Next, how do those findings compare to your own brand?
Take notes on anything you find, most of which will surface on Google or social media, and be sure to include:
- Marketing focus
- Business owners or co-founder
- Costs for service or product
2. Set big goals
To scale your business, you have to set goals even bigger than your growth right now. The difference between growth and scaling is that scaling success is intentional. You plan it out. You map out the employees you need and the customers you’ll serve.
Next, you create a process around those big goals.
Starting with a big goal is better than daydreaming—it’s more pleasurable and more powerful. It’s dreaming with a plan of action. Start with that big goal and your definition of success, then reverse engineer how to get there by answering these questions in order:
- How many clients will you serve to make that money or reach that goal?
- How many employees will you need to serve those clients?
- With more people on your team, what key knowledge must each bring?
- What part of the process will employees each be responsible for?
Put all that on paper and you’ll have the basic process to scale your business.
3. Put more of the right processes in place
Once you have the big picture figured out with the tip above, you need to figure out the smaller pieces.
Each company deliverable, promise, or service needs a written process that describes:
- How it’s done
- When it’s done
- Who’s responsible
- What are the costs
- What it looks like from customers’ perspective
Building out these processes won’t happen overnight, but neither does scaling. Your employees themselves can help figure out what those processes will look like, too. This gets greater buy-in from them and helps high-up business leaders see crucial procedures through the eyes of the people doing the work.
Many companies struggle with putting policies and procedures on paper because it takes time to do it well. These documents, however, turn hard work into systems that run on auto-pilot. This positions company for more rapid scaling as demand continues to grow.
4. Recruit talented people
Not only do you need more employees as you scale your business, but you also need to hire the top talent.
Talented people bring drive, creativity, and personal recommendations. They also expect higher pay.
Attracting the right talent both requires leadership to have public profiles, too. Anyone on the leadership team should have at least one professional profile online. The natural place most business people go is LinkedIn. This high-profile leadership visibility attracts the right people because ambitious people naturally want to know who runs a business.
You’ll also focus on scaling up the top talent you already have. Go to those most engaged team members and get their two cents on the company and the opportunities you face. Then give them the room to grow into new roles as the business grows, and make that possibility known early.
Talented team members will also keep customers happier, which compounds your scaling efforts.
5. Turn talent into the company culture
Once you have the right people in place at your company, turn that talent into the company culture. Both existing employees and new hires need to feel like they’re a part of it and be included in these efforts.
Building a company culture is just as critical as recruiting the top talent because as your business scales, you won’t have the same impact you did on company culture before.
Now, you need it to grow and thrive on its own.
Company culture starts with business owners but then needs to be transferred to leadership and supervisors in the organization.
Some ideas that specifically boost morale and can be baked into your organization to run on “auto-pilot” as you scale are:
- Supervisors do one fun activity (like a game) “on the clock) with each team once a week
- Employee pay includes bonuses for tips that turn into implemented ideas
- Team events sponsored by the company (whether supervisors participate or not)
- Regular anonymous surveys of team members to check on mood and satisfaction
Company culture is a complex concept, but with the ease of talented employees going elsewhere, it’s an essential one for a successful business scaling plan today.
Is it time to start the scaling process?
Did you know that over a third of employees in the U.S. are employed by a small business?
The money these businesses make is what runs our economy. It’s what ends up in the pockets of talented employees who later live their lives and trickle wages into the greater good.
Our whole economy has thrived, in fact, on successful small businesses.
Clients, too, benefit from small businesses with the superior customer care they offer. More variety in offerings thanks to these businesses also keeps the market in competition to provide better and better service.
Successful businesses have to scale when demand picks up, but how do they know when it’s time?
Because over 50% of small businesses fail within four years, if your business is making money and you’re struggling to keep up with demand, that’s a big sign that it’s time to get ready. The successful businesses that establish their market presence and make it past that four-year hump into the surviving 50% will only continue to survive if they scale now.
Scaling still can’t, however, come too early or too late. Too early results in premature investments with less return. Too late means missed opportunity and other brands pushing your company out.
Here are the classic symptoms that it’s time to scale your business:
- You’re regularly turning down business opportunities
- You’re not even noticing all your business opportunities (hint: they’re everywhere)
- You’re regularly surpassing goals
- You have a strong cash flow
- You have strong repeatable sales
Scaling up when you’re ready
Being ready to scale, to take on new customers, and to strategize sustainable growth is about more than just the signs in revenue and demand. You also have to be ready emotionally to take on more risks.
Scaling is risky. Only risk pays out in reward, though, so taking a calculated risk and using these tips to your advantage will lead you to create the growth you seek.
Ultimately, it’s creating that growth that results in successful scaling. Scaling a business is deliberate. You stay connected to your goals and customers but take a big step back from the operations. Those operations are simply repositioned to run and refuel themselves.
If that sounds appealing, you’re at the point you need to be to start scaling. Don’t miss another beat—reverse engineer your goals and get started today!
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