Scaling a business can be your ticket to higher revenue, financial freedom, and professional fulfillment.
But It’s not easy. Scalability itself differs in characteristics on a case by case basis. Some businesses are more scalable than others, so they’ll have an easier time with growth. However, that doesn’t mean that scaling is impossible for any business.
There are specific ingredients for the recipe of scaling that any business can work with.
And that’s what we’ll explore in this article.
1. A suitable business plan and product
The first step when thinking about scaling your business is to analyze your business plan and product to make sure it’s ready for scaling.
If you’re a freelance designer, it would be hard to scale. Every extra client requires extra time from you. In this case, a simple adaptation of the business model and messaging can be enough to scale your business. If you position yourself as an agency, not a freelancer, and start acquiring clients through means other than just freelance boards, it’s enough to get the ball rolling.
You can acquire more clients, and when your time commitment is stretched to the maximum, you can hire more designers to manage the workload. In time, with enough business acumen, you can grow this model to a fully-fledged business.
Your product might also need to be changed for scalability. Let’s say you sell accounting software solutions in your country. If the language and functionalities of your product are localized, you’ll need to add more languages and features for each country you want to expand to. Alternatively, you can even pivot to serve a different type of customer, with global applications. But that’s more risky, and could only work in specific scenarios. Read our article about when you should pivot, and when you should persevere, to find out more.
To summarize, before changing your strategy to scale, make sure your business is ready to address a global, or at least international market. Think about your customers, what they need, and whether or not your business is ready to serve an international audience.
2. Systems and Procedures
Atul Gawande’s Checklist Manifesto is, in our opinion, a must-read for any business manager. Its deep dive into the benefits of checklists and procedures proves to be insightful and engaging at the same time.
But systems and procedures are not just a cool thing to write about. They’re also fundamental for your business if you want to scale. They give you and your employees more clarity, which lets you all do a better job.
They also save time by allowing people to focus more on growing your business, instead of explaining procedures or tasks to other employees. Lastly, scaling also means hiring new people. This process is streamlined with the help of systems and procedures, as new employees can onboard independently (for the most part).
Successful companies and corporations see the value of systems and procedures. If you want to scale, you should too.
3. A Strategy For Growth
When you know your business can scale, and when you have the right procedures for it, it’s important to plan how you’ll approach scaling. Sure, procedures and a suitable product will help you grow naturally, but it won’t be enough. If you want to scale, you need to be mindful about it.
Analyze your current state, and how you grew to this point, and make a clear buyer persona of the potential clients you want to target. Besides an overview of your audience, also formulate a clear sales strategy. We recommend you draft this together with your sales department, since they’re most likely to understand the intricacies of signing a new deal for your company.
But a strategy for growth is not just about audience and sales. It’s an interdepartmental effort to penetrate new markets with your services or product. Roadmap the places and niches you want to expand to, then involve all departments to create a plan for growth together.
4 Embrace Automation
Leveraging new technologies and software to declutter your task lists is just one of the benefits of automation. Letting “robots” take care of some tasks allows you and your employees more time to focus on creative processes, and figuring out ways to scale your business.
Automation also has applications across your business. It can be as simple as streamlining client onboarding processes with automated emails or subscription preferences. If you want to take it a step further, you can also use automation to make customer interactions more efficient, improve document processing, create alerts for urgent tasks, and even analyze data.
The latter application is extremely valuable for scaling. Automation solutions usually gather data about the process they’re in charge of. For example, a chatbot will analyze its customer interactions, and provide insights about customer behaviour, like what complaints are common, or what type of product combination works well for an upsell. This type of data is indispensable when you scale, especially if you target new markets with your strategy.
For more on the power of chatbots, check out this recent article.
5. Be A Good Leader
It might be easy for you to pull an all-nighter when you have a vision for the future of your company. But you can’t expect your employees to share your vision if you don’t share it. Your team needs something to believe in if you want them to work side by side with you towards a common goal.
So another important step in scaling your business is to inspire your employees by displaying integrity, work ethic, honesty and determination. Besides setting a good example, you should also focus on creating a strong company culture, and set values for how you work.
This is incentivizing for your existing team, but it’s also something that sets your company apart in the eyes of potential team members in the future.
Growing your business to penetrate new markets, and even expand internationally is hard. Scaling can be even more difficult, since it requires you to create value without being forced to devote new resources everytime a new client is signed. If you want to scale, you’ll need to:
- Analyze your business plan and product to make sure it’s suitable.
- Instate clear systems and procedures.
- Formulate a strategy for growth.
- Embrace automation.
- Work on being a good leader.