What you need to know before scaling your company
Number 1? Faster isn’t always better.
It’s a thing of beauty when a business starts to take off, with a product or service that is exploding in its market, and month over month growth seems to be the trend. It can also get complicated and out of hand in a hurry. Many companies in the Innisfil area have grown quickly: the ones that stay the course are scaled properly.
Knowing the difference between growth and scaling is your first step. While growth is not controlled and expenses are likely on par with revenue, scaling a business requires a thought out process that allows you to take on more work while maintaining or even improving upon your efficiency.
So what do you need in place before you start scaling your company, your team and your sales?
Identify key milestones
Dealing with daily tasks within the business tends to be the focus in the early stages, but as you look to scale up your business, you need to start spending more time looking at the bigger picture. Establishing milestones helps you to see where your growth goals are and to develop a strategy for achieving them.
Assess your risk
Part of the strategy for achieving goals is to spend some time on risk assessment. Your ability to scale your business can have impediments, as well as potential opportunities that you haven’t yet considered.
Developing a plan for scaling that mitigates risk is essential. It will help you to remember that every action or decision you make has a consequence—sometimes positive, and sometimes negative. Limiting the negatives is a function of the risk assessment.
For example, do you have a thorough understanding of the by-laws in the geographical areas you are operating in and any constraints that your business may face because of them? This is where effective economic development groups, like the Township of Innisfil, are a handy contact.
Use real data to make decisions
Fast growth can lead to decisions based on overly inflated numbers, instead of looking at the real, historical data and a reasonable projection. Instead, take a step back and make sure your plan is in place to help you achieve managed scalability vs. uncontrolled growth.
By looking at the numbers in order to project market demand, taking into account any risks, you can manage your scalability. What numbers? Yours, your competition, the industry as a whole, to say nothing of the economy in general. All of these are indicators of possible opportunities and risk.
Keep processes simple
Whether related to the sales process, order fulfillment or client care, documenting your processes helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page. At the same time, it’s important to keep those processes as simple as possible. Difficult or onerous processes can actually impede scalability, as your staff get bogged down in the process instead of getting the job done.
In order to make as many functions easier, and less repetitive, you can always look to technology to automate some tasks, and ensure that they don’t get lost in the hustle. For example, ensuring that your customers are contacted to see how they felt about the service they received should be automatically scheduled for your sales team members.
Remember that your customer is your focus
At this stage of development, you’ve likely spent quite a lot of time identifying the ideal customer. Now is a good time to make sure that your processes are all working towards the customer experience.
Invest in your team
For companies that are growing quickly, it can be a knee jerk reaction to hire an extensive team, either for sales or operations, but be careful of one pitfall that a lot fall into: don’t scale your sales team too fast or you might find that your demand exceeds your capacity.
Sales is a key way to scale, however:
“But there’s a big difference between doing effective outreach for your startup on a high-touch basis where you’re still understanding customer needs and figuring out approaches, and turning this knowledge into a sales machine with a full sales team that can operate in a financially efficient way.” (Source)
Do it right and spend time and money on training and growing your team, from within and without. Hiring the right people to represent your company and the brand you’re working to establish in the market is vital.
Ask for help
Scaling your business is a much smoother transaction if you are prepared to ask for help. Leverage data and intelligence from the professionals who know the numbers. Your accountant is probably the single best source of information for deciding on a scaling plan.
In addition, an advisor or mentor can help avoid making mistakes that they have witnessed in the past. The weight of long experience can help you to devise a plan for managed scalability that will help you to grow your company efficiently.
Finally, don’t ignore your network. While you might be busy, there are tremendous resources at your disposal to look to for ideas and inspiration. Perhaps a mastermind group for peer mentoring, or an accelerator program to get your business on the right track, with milestones in place and a scalability plan that will work.
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