Successfully scaling your business might not be easy, but it is something that most small businesses will go through.
It is essential to keep in mind that growing a business and scaling a business are different things.
What is scaling a business?
You will hear now more than in previous years that many businesses will talk about scaling, scalable products, scalable ecommerce software, scalable tools and more.
Many people mistake scaling for growth, and while the two are linked – they aren’t the same. Scaling is when the increase in revenue happens without the costs that are typically associated with growth.
Usually, with growth, there will be investors, business loans, and other cash injections to help cover the costs of the growth. With scaling, a company (usually a startup) will add revenue and clients in a huge way – but only see costs creep up – rather than the costs matching the pace of the income.
Successful scaling takes a lot of discipline to manage, and that is why there are specialists in scaling.
Scaleups and startups
We know what a startup is and how it functions – but there is a new player on the block called a scaleup.
A scaleup has a definition: a startup that has achieved a product-market fit, and that proof is used to take the product to the masses.
The scaleup will only complete marginal investments and exponential growth by using innovative technology, select hiring or outsourcing, and plenty of marketing.
One of the challenges that scaleups face is that many internal processes don’t have the capacity to scale.
Can anyone scale a business?
In theory, yes, anyone can scale their business – so long as their business is prepared for the scaling to happen. Scaling your business will take careful planning, implementation of the right tools, the right people, and a very clear understanding of the finances.
What is the blade period in a company?
The blade years, also known as the hockey stick years, can be tricky to navigate and is typically when many would-be business owners will drop the venture and work on something else.
The name is more like a description of the revenue for the first few years of many companies. Imagine that the blade part of the hockey stick represents the cash flow, and the big dip in the blade is the big dip that finances can take.
Usually, this period lasts around 3, sometimes four years.
There are both successes and failures during this period.
During the blade period, the founders or founders will begin to build scalable systems and procedures that are both profitable and can last. Within this period, you will also create a client experience, and that will be what you use in the business model.
So what are the considerations for scaling?
How can you scale your business?
When it comes to scaling, much of what you will use is the tried and tested strategies that are recommended by scaling experts. Not everything within the tips will work for every company, so it is important to consider which will make the right impact on what you do.
The first thing you will need to have before you start the process of scaling is to make sure that you have a loyal customer base.
One of the key ways that you can unlock customer loyalty is by starting with your own employees. Enthusiastic employees will care about the future of the business, and they want to make a difference. They will be the champions who put time and effort into the scaling up.
Make sure that each of your hires understands the company’s purpose and that they align with the goals and values.
When it comes to scaling, think like a child. Also, ask why? Why are we doing this? Why are we creating these products? Why should someone buy from us?
Answer your whys, and you have found your purpose.
When you first started planning your business, you most likely created a business plan, and maybe somewhere in there was some mind mapping.
Bringing the two together to create a business map can change how you see what you do and how you do it.
One of the key things in your map is that it doesn’t just focus on light questions; you will be taking a deep dive into what does work, what works, and how you can improve what you do. It will allow you to problem-solve with great efficiency.
A well-done business map will also cover the founder – what did you start this business for?
Each question should present a challenge and force you to explore all the levels of your business.
The document will act as a guide when things inevitably get difficult and help any decision making.
Most startups have one or two products that are perfect, but during scaling (and growth), they get tempted to add extra products – while forgetting that their first product (and the one that gave them clients or customers) needs to be perfect.
Whatever it is that you offer, that product should be perfect – there is no room for kinks that need to be worked out or fixing any issues in the product.
Consider that if you do grow and you didn’t put the scaling groundwork in with the product or service, you will forever be fixing it. A lot of time and energy will go into this, and that is growth, not scaling.
While you are still in the blade period, you will perfect your product, and that is something that will be ready no matter how big your business gets.
One of the most difficult things to scale are processes that happen internally. As an example, if you are currently offering a travel reimbursement package to your small team – as you scale, is that still possible?
Perhaps not. But, if you were to accept remote workers – the travel issues would be resolved. It is important to consider what makes the most sense as you scale and how you can ensure that the policies that you have in place will work as you grow.
Even if you only have yourself in your business right now, you can consider what a team might look like – and how you can make it work.
Often when we read articles about scaling and growth, there is an assumption that you already have more people on your team. However, most often, there is just the business owner getting things off the ground.
When it comes to scaling, there is one place that some cash might need to go, and that is into expanding your team. Ultimately you will not be able to handle everything yourself as the scaling comes into play.
It is not just the people you will hire that will be ‘your people’ either. Part of scaling and doing it well is turning buyers into fans and fans into brand loyal return buyers.
Since you are a small company, you can create a buying experience that gives your clients and customers what they want and adheres completely to your desired customer experience.
Exert control in this area, and mind all of the details.
Delegation is key
Once you have a virtual assistant, a remote worker – or someone on your team, it is time to delegate. Scaling means that the people that join your team will be very carefully selected, and therefore you will only have people you work well with.
The level of trust that this gives you will mean that you can delegate without worry and know that everything that needs to be done will be.
Delegation gives business owners the ability to work with clients, create new products, and perform other essential (money-making) functions.
Here is where you need to stop trading your time for money and instead begin the scaling that will enable you to have tools, people and processes that enable the business to run itself.
If you aren’t focusing on your customers at any stage of the scaling process, you won’t progress further. The whole purpose and premise of scaling are that you grow your customer base and revenue exponentially while keeping costs low.
Within these early stages, you will test the approach you have and perfect it so that you are always communicating with your customer in the best and most profitable way.
A collaborative culture works very well here and will establish an open feedback loop that will help you create an agile environment for developing your business to meet your customers’ needs.
We often talk about innovation and creativity being two of the most critical parts of a business, but sustainability is what will keep you going in the case of scaling. When the growth is carefully planned, it will be sustainable over the course of the growth.
Scaling your business means that you will be working on having a company that is successful now and in the future.
If you are focusing on scaling and growth, then here are some more great tips to help you: What Will it Take to Grow Your Business This Year?
Image Credits: Dung Anh