Scaling a business takes enormous effort and resources. There’s a reason they call it scaling. Like scaling a mountain, it isn’t easy. But if you’re committed and willing to do the work, reaching your goal can be an exhilarating combination of relief and reward.
There are two basic ways to scale:
- Increase sales.
- Increase prices.
Sounds simple, right? Maybe not, but you can do it.
1) It starts with a commitment
What do you really want? A business is similar to a relationship. Even a solopreneur has customers who depend on them to meet their needs. It’s not always easy to walk away from that if things get hard. Scaling increases the complexity of any business, especially as you add more people into the mix. The more people you have, the bigger the commitment. If you want to grow your business, renew that commitment to yourself with every single person you bring in.
2) Scaling requires thinking outside your business
Who do you know that can help you? And how can you return the favour? Building partnerships with like-minded, complementary businesses can extend your reach and supercharge your growth. Think about ways you can work with other growing businesses. Whether it’s referral arrangements or shared offerings, you don’t have to grow alone. Solid, mutually beneficial relationships with other businesses can be a creative way to grow.
3) Prepare what you need to scale
Do you need to learn new skills? Do you have resource gaps to fill? Build a plan that’s realistic and frees up time for you to do additional management tasks you’ll have to take on. Sometimes you’ll have to get help before you feel ready. It’s important to face your reality that you can’t do business the same way anymore. Your time has to be spent on high-value, high-impact activities. Staying mired in the minutiae will sabotage your success.
4) No matter your size, be true to you
New businesses often take on every little project that comes along. This creates confusion about what they do. Turning away business that isn’t a good fit makes you a better business. It shows you believe in delivering quality work that matters to you and is valued by customers. Scaling shouldn’t be about compromising what makes your business unique and relevant.
5) Process is boring but don’t neglect it
How many tasks do you repeat over and over again daily, weekly, or monthly? Every repetitive task is an opportunity to find efficiencies. Whether it’s identifying tools that reduce time spent, outsourcing or hiring an employee, you want clearly defined processes established. It’s one of the simplest ways to make scaling successful. Set them. Document them. Follow them. Tweak as needed. Process is powerful.
Be brave. Be bold. Be open.
Scaling a business isn’t for the faint of heart. Have the courage to admit when you’re wrong or make mistakes. Be accountable to someone for what you want to do. Make big moves even if you’re not sure of the outcome. Just be smart about it. And always stay open to possibilities. Give people the opportunity to give constructive feedback and challenge you. You’ll be happy you did.
Come join us at the monthly Wine Down and the Mix and Mingle Breakfast. We hope to see you there!
WBN President, 2015-18
Manager, Marketing Communications & Content