Scaling your business might seem like a big, overwhelming task. When you’re already busy with work and home life, it can be hard to find the time to focus on properly scaling.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of only worrying about tasks that provide an immediate monetary return, but spending time on planning is the only way to find long-term success.
The truth is, it doesn’t have to be that hard. A good bulk of the work that goes into scaling a business consists of getting your ducks in a row before you start ramping up business.
We pulled together 10 tips that will help you tackle the scale up without breaking a sweat!
1. Think For the Scale You Want
“From the very first contract, I looked at everything as how will it work when we have a hundred contracts?”
- Richard Lewis of RTL Networks, Inc.
When things start to get busy, it can be easy to focus on just getting by. But an integral part of scaling your business is thinking for the scale you want, not the one you have. It’s important to always be thinking How will this work when I have a hundred orders? A thousand?
Whether you have one employee or one hundred, one contract or a boatload, you need to run your operation just as efficiently and effectively. That means efficiency in production and cost-saving measures abound.
When you scale up, quality and turnaround are super important, which means you need to find the best way to get things done before you get huge. Little problems tend to grow into big problems as your business does, so addressing them early on is key.
2. Spend Wisely
“No matter how much they grow, small businesses should always remember the relationship between cash and growth.”
– Jim Blasingame of Small Business Network, Inc.
Spending wisely encompasses a lot. If you’re planning to scale quickly, there’s a good chance you’re going to need some outside investment to help you get there.
Don’t forget: investors want to make money. So they’re gonna want to make sure you’re spending their money for good reason. You also don’t want to take on any more debt than you need to scale, so being cautious about spending practices can help you keep that number where you’re comfortable.
The best way to plan your spending is to forecast to determine your cash flow. Once you know how much you’ll need, you can make decisions about how to get it, whether that be internally or through debt, and how to use it.
3. Be Consistent with Quality
“One factor that makes a small business successful is its ability to provide high quality to its customers.”
– Tameka Montgomery of the U.S. Small Business Administration
The last thing you want when you grow is for your quality to suffer. Your current customers have come to expect a certain quality of product and customer service from, and you don’t want to let them down. So don’t bite off any more than you can chew.
In order to keep growing, you need to be able to continue providing the same quality consistently. Part of that entails having the right production costs and timeline that are easily scalable.
The other piece means you can’t be afraid to turn down business. Especially in the beginning, it can be scary to turn away customers. But if bringing in new customers leads to inconsistent quality and service, you won’t be having growing pains for very long.
4. Focus on Your Strengths
“Your strengths lead to your unique selling point.”
– Steven Bradley of Vanseo Design
Even though you’re focusing on growth, it’s super important that you don’t spread yourself, or your business, too thin. Likely, there are a few things that you do really well. These are the aspects you want to leverage to expand and scale your business.
Bringing on new customers is key to getting the cash flow needed to scale, but there’s more than one way to go about it. Instead of trying to bring more to the table, try bringing what you already have to more tables.
For example, let’s say you’re selling a product for babies: an innovative new take on the pacifier. You’re probably already in stores like Babies R Us. Don’t try to develop a new teething ring. Instead, try to get into bigger department stores, like Target!
5. Invest in a Great Team
“At the end of the day, in a small business, it’s the team that makes or breaks the company.”
When business and life get crazy, the thought of having to hire and train new employees can be a little overwhelming. At the end of the day, though, when you invest in your employees, it usually pays off.
The first and last thing you’ll need to invest is your time. From the start, it’s super important to take the time needed to find the right person to hire. Everything from their skills and abilities to their fit with your company culture should be spot on.
Once you find the perfect candidate, you’ll probably need to invest some money to get her. Remember: the right employee probably has more offers than just yours. But he or she will help you grow your business, so don’t be coy about pay.
After the hiring process, more time. It can be hectic trying to train a new hire while running your business, but investing in good training will be worthwhile and actually save you time in the end.
6. Get Cash Flow Right
“Make sure you either have the money in the bank, a nice overdraft, or work that you’re pretty sure of getting.”
– Julia Chanteray of The Joy of Business
This one is all about forecasting. You’re obviously seeing success or you wouldn’t have scaling on your mind. Make sure you plan for how you’re going to pay for things like increased production and new hires and what you’ll do with any extra cash.
Business can be unpredictable when you’re small, but try to plan at least 6 months ahead. Make sure you have enough to pay for what you need and either a little extra or some business you’re pretty confident you’ll get.
Cash flow disasters can be a nightmare, so knowing what it’s going to look like is absolutely key. That being said, don’t be afraid to take a small, short-term dip in profits. Your investment will pay off as your business grows.
7. Think Big, Act Bold
“He who dares, wins.”
– British Special Air Service
The first step in moving your business forward is having the vision to see where you’re going. If you’re a million dollar company, can you see yourself at 50 million dollars? 100?
If you can’t see it, how can you get there? You also need to develop a plan for how to get from where you are to where you wanna be strategically.
Thinking and planning are super important, but they aren’t worth much if you don’t act on them. Scaling your business requires some bold action, and that can be scary. But to get where you can see your business means taking the leap (the strategic, well-researched and planned leap, that is!).
8. Work On Your Business, Not In It
“Focus on the activities that move your business forward in a strategic way or you’re doomed to stagnate. Forever.”
– Eric T. Wagner of Forbes
You’re clearly passionate about your business. If you weren’t you wouldn’t have gotten this far. But when it comes to everyday tasks, the details, someone else can do it. As the owner of your company, you absolutely have to be focused on moving forward.
When it comes time to grow the business, your focus needs to be on scaling strategically. Don’t get me wrong, if you want to work in your business, you can be successful. But if you want to grow your business, you have to work on it, not in it.
You’re the leader and the visionary, so you need to lead the company forward by keeping laser focus on strategy and your core activities.
9. Eliminate Friction
“It’s tough for anyone to dislike services that make life easier.”
– Francesca Fenzi of Inc.
Your number one goal in working on your business should be eliminating any and all friction that exists between your customers and your product. That means something about your business makes things easier for your customers at a fundamental level.
If you provide a service like business consulting, try to cut down the time it takes for your clients to see results. For a product, try to place yourself exactly where you’re needed, whether that’s in a mall or a department store.
When it comes to getting customers to buy, nothing works quite like making life easier. From your product’s function and ease of use to where they can get their hands on it, everything should be feel seamless and smooth for the customer.
10. Hold Your Team Responsible
“A simple tracking system helps to foster employee accountability, and identifies bottlenecks within the company.”
– Michelle Zatlyn of CloudFlare
Whether it’s your employees or just you, tracking engagement and task completion can help ensure your business is running as efficiently and effectively as possible.
This is one thing you really don’t have to do on your own. There are about a zillion apps that can help you with task management. Or you can come up with your own unique system. Anything that helps you manage, track, and assign tasks will do the trick.
Keeping note of who’s in charge of what, what needs to get done this week, and what needs to get done by the end of the quarter will help your business stay on track and reach the goals you’ve set.
Ready, Set, Scale!
Once you know what you’re doing, scaling your business becomes a lot less intimidating. Now get out there and do whatever it takes to get your business ready to scale up and get growing!
Your Turn: What problems are you facing as you scale? How do you cope?