A term we often hear in business is scalability, but what does it mean? If you’re already contemplating whether this applies to your enterprise, then you’re reading the right article. This means that your business has achieved some level of success, and you’re now ready to take on the next steps. Here’s everything you need to know on business scaling.
What is Business Scaling?
Business scaling is the process of preparing your business operations to provide the capacities for further growth. Acknowledging that your business has achieved growth well enough to consider expansion is a confident move worth taking. However, moving on to the next business phase without proper preparation is not the way to go. You can grow your business, but you also need to meet the rigorous demands of increased output.
Scalable businesses can take on the increased workload in the most cost-effective manner without overstretching capabilities. Successful scaling is among the repeatable processes your company can undergo to efficiently grow your business even more significantly.
Business Scaling Vs. Business Growth
Now that your business has achieved a growth of 20 percent or more for at least two years, you are now considered a high-growth company by the OECD. But that doesn’t mean you should go all-out just because you see the business opportunities. On the contrary, your company’s growth can have a detrimental effect if you can’t properly deliver.
Business growth is when companies see revenue increases but also spend equally as fast to achieve it. For example, a company may gain $100,000 in new revenue but also need to hire more salespeople with salaries amounting to the same amount. This evens out the company’s gains and losses, so there really isn’t much value despite the illusion of growth.
On the other hand, business scaling allows companies to gain new revenue by spending much less. This is done through cost-effective methods, which in turn, assures more returns. For example, a scalable company can earn $100,000 in new revenue but only spends $10,000 on effective business processes, such as automation to do so. This apparent difference allows the company to gain more while efficiently scaling its growth.
The Benefits of Business Scaling
To properly scale your business, your company needs to match your increasing demands. This means handling sales volume increases, new operational requirements, and more considerable operating overhead in the most efficient way possible. Preparing to accommodate this growth can help you achieve more business success. Here are some benefits of having a scalable business:
- Improved Efficiency. Planning for every eventuality to ensure optimal capacities allow scalable businesses to be more efficient.
- Adaptability. A scalable company needs to be flexible enough to adapt to economic changes. This means knowing when to scale up or scale down as required.
- Consistency. Being prepared for scalability means maintaining your output’s quality throughout the entire process. Many businesses fail to maintain customer experience because they stretch themselves out too thin.
- Longevity. Companies that gear themselves towards business scaling are more likely to operate long into the future. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that 50 percent of small businesses fail within four years of existence. Scaling allows companies to thrive because it prepares them for the process they need to undergo.
- Competition. Successfully attaining scalability for your business means that you’re operating well enough to be a strong competitor in your field.
4 Things You Need to Know Before Scaling a Business
Scaling isn’t just about increasing or expanding. Many factors can either make or break a business, which is why it’s essential to be prepared for whatever happens in the future. How you scale can also affect your business entirely.
According to the Startup Genome Report’s coverage of premature scaling, 70 percent of startups scaled too soon, which eventually led to business failure. To avoid this, business owners need to accept some hard truths when it comes to business scaling:
1. Hire Slow & Fire Fast
As companies grow, they tend to rush in filling openings to respond to that growth. This opens up your company to making more mistakes than you’d generally want to have. In the face of exponential growth, you must still maintain quality in your hiring process. This avoids terrible hires that lead to productivity loss and affect the performance of your other employees. Business owners must be able to take out under-performers to raise standards even further.
2. Scale Back Your Lifestyle
Achieving a certain level of early success may entice you to splurge on the finer things in life. It can be tempting to upscale your standard of living to match your improved business situation. Giving in to this can be a severe mistake. Austin Godsey, the founder of the number 1 Instagram Marketing Agency in the world, explained this tendency by saying, “Most people, when they start scaling their business, also end upscaling their lifestyle.
However, you always want to live below your means, so you’ll end up there quicker than you’d like”. To achieve successful scaling, money needs to go back into the business, not towards yourself. Living a more luxurious lifestyle when you haven’t reached your goals could undermine the profits you need to succeed.
3. Keep Processes as Simple as Possible
As your business grows and scales, the key dynamic that slows progress is keeping things complex. Complexity sucks plenty of time. It requires more meetings, more work, more cogs in the machine. Successful business leaders know how to be good at simplification. They take the complex and make it as simple as possible. Part of the success of Apple under Steve Jobs was due to his innate ability to remove things that were too complex. He was known for cancelling projects that he viewed as redundant and unnecessary. Keeping processes as simple as possible makes it easier to stay engaged with your goals.
4. Choose a Proven Concept with a Reliable Infrastructure
Before any growth can occur, ask yourself, “Do I have a proof of concept? Have I proven that the product will sell? Do I have the infrastructure in place to scale?” These questions can help you quickly identify if you have a premature product or have a weak infrastructure. In addition, proving that your business has what it takes on a smaller scale establishes the groundwork for a larger consumer base and can provide better growth predictions.
5 Important Steps to Scaling a Business
Setting the stage towards business scaling is simply the start of this new journey. Here are the steps you can take to move forward:
1. Assess Your Capacity and Plan the Means to Scale
Before jumping into the process of scaling up, you need to evaluate your capabilities and assess where your business presently stands. Successful entrepreneur and founder of the Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson, once said, “Focus on your passion, start small, dream big, and plan ahead. Scale-up only when you are ready, not just because opportunity knocks.” Creating unnecessary risk in your business and its progress just because profits are up one quarter isn’t worth the possibility of failure.
While risk always abounds in business, minimizing it should be a priority before attempting to scale up. After assessing your company’s standing, having a sturdy strategy is a vital key to successful scaling. You’ll need to plot a reliable sales growth forecast, customer acquisition goals, target buyers that you aim to focus on. Having a more detailed plan leads to much better outcomes.
2. Secure the Money
To scale up a small business, you’ll need funding to support your growth plans. This can be acquired through conventional term loans, short-term loans, business lines of credit, or business credit cards. Keep in mind that entrepreneurs are more likely to get a loan request approved from a small bank.
Small banks approved 48.7% of loan requests compared to 23% by big banks. There’s also a growing list of alternative options you can choose from to help you overcome cash shortfalls. These funding mechanisms include crowdfunding, joint ventures with established players, invoice factoring and creating new predictable revenue streams.
Entrepreneurs can raise 300% more money in today’s business world than in the last few decades to support further growth. Ensuring that you have the funds you’ll need, even beyond meeting your targets, can provide more confidence in your abilities to scale up. This can help acquire new staff, deploy new technologies, and add equipment and facilities you’ll need as you move forward.
3. Secure Your Sales
As you scale your business up, you can expect your customer base to grow, which means more sales. However, this also incurs added expenditures to keep up with your growing consumer demand. Even as you scale up, monitoring your gross margins as these are indicators of whether a specific product is doing well or not. As long as you make sure that your revenue is growing faster than your expenses, then you’re on the right path.
As you drive your company towards securing and generating more sales, it’s vital to ensure that you have the proper sales structure running behind your operations. While customer acquisition is essential, you also need to focus on the customers you already have. In addition, customer retention is vital to maintain a stable bottom line. According to successful entrepreneur Kalika Yap, “A current customer will buy from you 40 percent more easily than a new customer.”
Build your marketing strategy on delivering quality experiences, products, and services while maintaining and improving your standards. Developing excellent customer relationship management is a neat way to delight your customers and a perfect way to stay organic.
A study from Nielsen on advertising, media and peer recommendations discovered that 92% of consumers trust personal recommendations above all forms of advertising. This shows that the majority of respondents prefer looking into the “trust factor” more than anything. Maintaining and developing that trust is the way to assure your steady sales increase.
4. Streamline Your Business Model and Invest in Technology
When business scaling, it can be helpful to tweak your business model to become more efficient. Streamlining your business model can eliminate the redundancies in your system and create more space as you grow. Assessing your company’s approach can also provide a different perspective that could lead to more effective means.
Retail giant Walmart displayed their business smarts when they drafted a realistic scaling approach. Instead of going into big cities for more rapid revenue growth, they focused on small markets in the Midwestern demographics. This way, they attained a big chunk of the market share while avoiding all the energy and money needed to compete with fierce competition in the market. Walmart looked at the dynamics of the retail industry and attended to the high demand of a more far-flung customer base.
Another way of streamlining your business is by investing in technology. Having the proper tools that can save time and money is always a solution to business scaling. Automation can eliminate inefficient systems and run your business at a much lower cost in the long run. Make sure to integrate your systems as you scale up to ensure a cohesive method for your growing operation.
5. Create Your Core Team and Build a Collaborative Network
As your company grows, the number of people you employ will grow along with it. Even as you streamline your business and use the latest innovative tech, your people are still your most important asset. Building a core team that you can rely on is vital in business scaling. These people must have the right expertise and the same commitment to growing as you do.
A Barclays Scale-Up Report indicated that many early-stage ventures lack the ambition and will to scale. This is why a growth mindset must be deeply rooted within you and your team. A way to ensure your unified direction is by investing in your employees.
We all know how tech-giant Google extends plenty of perks for its workers. These include extended paid parental leave, bonus payments for new parents, free food, college tuition reimbursement, unlimited sick days and many more. Happy employees can help drive your vision since they become more loyal and work harder than disgruntled workers.
Aside from establishing your core group, it would help if you also built a network of partners. From service providers, sales channel partners, suppliers and even customers sharing market information. As you implement your scaling strategy, it’s essential to maximize the existing talent pool in your company while identifying the high-value assets you still may need. This can help you take the necessary steps, such as hiring people with specific expertise or outsourcing key responsibilities.
The Secret to Successful Scaling
Preparing your company for business scaling will require you to think out of the box. A reliable means to do so is establishing systems and efficiencies before moving ahead. The 5E Scale Engine is a proven methodology that focuses on a business owner’s mindset with the right approach to business scaling. Here are five principles you need to develop:
If you want your business to grow, you’ll need to grow as a leader. This means setting a proper mindset that includes focusing on your wellness and fitness to attain your full potential. Evolving also means letting go of concepts that don’t work anymore and applying new ones to help you move forward.
When business scaling, having the power of vision is vital. This allows you to foresee the things you need to do according to your identified goals, whether it’s for the short term, mid-term, or your overall long term goals. To structure your vision, you can apply the 4WH Business Model and ask yourself: Why, Who, Where and How? This can give you a better idea on how to form your strategies to achieve your goals.
As your business grows, you’ll need to empower your team for them to reach their potential as well. They will rely on you to provide Meaning, Autonomy and Mastery, which spills over their performance. Providing a cycle of good work can make your team highly effective while amplifying your efforts to achieve success.
As you scale up, it’s important to maintain engagement with an essential aspect of your operation: your customers and clients. Proper engagement marks the difference between having brand impact and being just another option in the market. Plan out your customer’s journeys by plotting buyer personas to engage with them appropriately. This includes Discover, Consideration, Conversion, Fulfilment and Renewal, steps that ensure a more practical approach to keeping your customers engaged throughout your scaling-up process.
The last value you need to develop is an efficient manner of approach to executing your well-laid plans. Learn to optimize, delegate and automate your processes whenever you can. Creating a more systematic approach can transform your business entirely, allowing you to focus on strategy and further growth.
Business scaling, when done correctly, can allow your business to grow fast, be responsive and thrive in this highly competitive world. It may not be easy, but it doesn’t need to be difficult either. Using these steps and incorporating these values into your insight can help you understand the new challenges you need to face and capitalize on new opportunities along the way.