Let’s start by saying that, no, success is not your enemy. Don’t start fearing the day when your business stops walking and starts running. But be prepared for the risk that comes with moving at those higher speeds. You can maintain your business at its current size and keep ticking over. Or you can use that momentum and really start growing. Below, we’ll look at the different steps you need to take to prepare for that growth.
Making sure you have the resources you need
You’re going to realize, by the end of this article, that scaling isn’t always cheap. Which means you need to figure out exactly how much it will cost. As you take into consideration changes that need to be made, start figuring out the costs behind it all. After the beginning of the business, most owners need to look into the funding progress when they’re about to grow. Using your own line of credit and your own resources can help you get there. Look into investors and crowdfunding, too. Just make sure you have the numbers of what you need.
What to do about staff needs
The first place you’re going to need to speed is with the staff. Scaling means that you’re likely to need more administrative workers and marketing staff at the very least. Look at the different processes that make up your business. Will they really benefit from being full of more people? Or is it better to consider restructuring those teams?
Finding your leaders
Scaling means having to deal with a lot more on a daily basis. You might have been a hands-on leader before, but it only makes sense you won’t be able to do all of that yourself, now. You need to start appointing leaders to head up the different sections of the business. It’s a good idea to consider looking amongst your own staff, to begin with. Who has the ambition and the focus? Who has deserved a promotion and the opportunity to excel? These are the questions you need to figure out. It’s always a better idea to stick with someone who knows the ins-and-outs of the business already.
Getting used to your new role
As we just said, you won’t be in your old role anymore. You won’t be working in the business as much as you should be working on the business. As a leader, you’re the mastermind behind the show. It’s your job to give people the direction and motivation they need to fulfill the goals of the business as a whole. This doesn’t mean just being a boss. It means being a facilitator, ensuring that everyone is able to do their job as best as they can.
Getting techy with it
Your equipment needs are also very likely to need to scale along with the staff you bring in. With more computers and people at them, the need to keep track of all your data grows more vital. Which means it’s time to put together a proper IT system to connect everyone on the same network. You have a lot of costs to consider at the moment, already, so it might be a better idea to consider outsourcing your IT. That way, not only are you paying less, on an as-you-need-them basis. You’re also sure that the people running your systems have experience, not just qualifications.
A connected network brings a certain level of extra communication to the team. Now that the team is growing, those means of communicating are going to need an overhaul. For one, train your managers in how to give efficient team meetings. Stand-up meetings reduce the time a meeting takes while boiling the subject down to the most crucial matters. Consider how people communicate to the outside world, as well. If you’re dealing with a number of different sections in your business, a proper phone system can make it easier for people to find who they need to talk to.
Streamlining things is the name of the game. If you’re running an ecommerce business or any other kind that delivers goods, you need to rethink your delivery system. Many small businesses will mail things manually, but with growing demand, that becomes less efficient. Lacking a proper fulfillment system increases the risk of lost and late packages. You need to consider setting yourself up a proper delivery system. You can mitigate the costs of that by outsourcing to services like Red Stag Fulfillment.
We’ve been talking about efficiency. But you need to look at it in more than the abstract. As a company grows bigger, the risk of losing time and money to inefficiency increases. Which means you need to start adopting methods of measuring productivity throughout the whole business. First, don’t look at how much exactly you’re spending per hour. Rather, look at how much the person is contributing per hour. You need to look at how much output you’re getting from your input. That is materials to products, time to tasks done and the like. Set individual key performance indicators for the different roles. Don’t paint everyone with the same brush.
So, you’ve started to notice that some things aren’t going as efficiently as you would like them to go. A common and very misguided approach to tackling workflow issues is to make it solely the problem of the employee. Instead, consider first looking at how they do the task. Could a change in tools or teaching them a new way to handle tasks immediately improve the situation? Are things like work interruption or equipment needs getting in their way? Seek to streamline the workflow process before blaming anyone in particular. As you grow, you’re going to find that the costs of failing to retain your people skyrocket. So don’t get rid of anyone unless you really need to.
Scaling your marketing
The operations of the business aren’t the only things that need to be scaled. To grow properly, you need to keep that customer base growing. Which means looking into new ways of marketing. For instance, considering video marketing on top of social media. Going for direct mail in more real life locations instead of putting all your eggs in the digital basket. It also means spending a bit on measuring the impact of your marketing and looking at the data behind your choices.
Branding is more important than ever
It’s not just the scope of the marketing that needs to be scaled, either. The impact of your brand needs to, as well. For one, look at the content you’re producing and consider outsourcing it to someone who can really give it an identity. Then think of more ways to spread your brand awareness. For example, if you’re not already attending trade shows, you need to start. Get out there, shake hands and make potential clients from a booth with your name on it.
Use the customers you already have
We’re talking about getting more customers in than ever. By far, the most effective way of doing just that is by focusing on the customers who are already with you. Bringing in new customers takes three times the effort of retaining your current ones. Your current ones can also be a powerful force for marketing good with the power of word-of-mouth. They can even help you find your own marketing strengths. Ask them for feedback on the business. Not only so you can fix what’s wrong with it. Ask them what they like about it in particular. Their answers are the advantages you should be using as your main marketing message.
Reshape the customer experience
You will likely be dealing with more customers than ever before. They’ll also have more demands than ever before. People expect different from a bigger business compared to your humbler origins. So you need to start building systems for proper customer support. For example, consider growing a community. A site-based forum where people can be self-sufficient in finding answers to their own queries. At the same time, provide a ticket-based system or live chat app that lets them get in contact with you easily.
Know your customers in and out
You might have more of them, but you should be using your resources to get to know everything you can about your customers. Customer relationship management services like Superoffice could be a big part of that. Keep a customer database that updates across the network when they interact with your company. CRM tells you about what your customers have wanted from the past and helps you spot the opportunities you haven’t yet capitalized on. Data is one of the most powerful tools of a growing company. Don’t neglect to use it.
Don’t underestimate the risk of not properly preparing to scale. Failing to deal with the volume or range of demands coming your way could see you losing it all. So make sure you take all the above decisions in mind and work on a proper business plan before you get the ball rolling.
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