August 25, 2014
Starting a business is arguably the hardest part of business success, but growing that business comes in a close second. You not only have to worry about making sure your business is growing in the first place, but you have to make sure that growth is steady. If you grow too fast, you might not be prepared. If you start growing slowly, then suddenly that growth picks up, but then it slows down again, you’re dealing with employees you may have hired who are no longer needed, you’re dealing with questions as to why, what that means for the future, etc. You have to be prepared and be able to scale that growth so that it doesn’t hurt you in the long run.
The inspiration for this article was actually from something one of our Managing Partners, Adam Heitzman, published on Inc. Magazine here. He asked entrepreneurs what their biggest challenge was in growing their business, and many people said that scaling business growth was a challenge. So I had to ask myself: What’s the secret?
Even if you’re still in the stages of trying to grow your business, it’s important to have a plan in place for when your business does grow. If you’re scrambling to scale this growth already, then we don’t need to tell you twice! But remember, growth is a good problem to have.
There are many different ways to scale your business for growth, but below are some of the most effective and popular:
Changing the way you think about the pricing structure in your company is huge. You might have a solid system in place that is working for a small company, but this may need to change if you’re planning to grow. For example, if you’re charging your clients per hour, you may want to consider a new approach that doesn’t limit you to the number of hours in a day. Try something called “value pricing.” This will charge your clients based on the value you’re offering.
If you like charging by the hour, start setting up larger workshops or conferences so you can make more per hour. Also try looking at different outsourcing options so that you have more people helping you get the job done in less time. The sooner you can establish your new structure and/or get a system in place that allows you to grow, the better.
This is probably the biggest thing that entrepreneurs will tell you “saved” them. Bring in people who make up for your weaknesses and establish internal systems right off the bat. Prepare now so that you’re not scrambling in the future.
For example, right now you might be able to supervise all of your hiring decisions, but soon that may not be possible as your orders grow and you’re needed elsewhere. This means you should have people in charge already in place to help you hire, as you need it.
I got this idea from an article published on Sage One, and it seems to be one that is often overlooked. Cloud-based systems allow you to communicate and share information anywhere and at any time. Having information constantly accessible is the key to keeping a growing business successful because things are going to come up when you’re not in the office.
If you don’t switch to cloud-based systems soon enough, you could run into the problem of having too much information on your servers, meaning you would need to invest in expensive servers to stay afloat. Cloud-based systems already have the power you’ll need.
Having a presence on social media and making appearances on large publications in your industry (whether through interviews, guest articles, etc.) is key to growing your business in the first place; however, this also holds your team accountable.
Make sure everyone has a public profile so that as your business growing, those who have questions can easily find the right person to contact as opposed to having everyone contacting the CEO. According to a Forbes article, the CEO and/ or owner should be working on the business more than in it.
Many small businesses can get away with tracking order and client information on spreadsheets, but this simply isn’t conducive to growth. You could get buried and lose some of those relationships you once had. A CRM system (one in the cloud, preferably!) can help you keep these relationships intact so you don’t miss a beat. Remember, your business is nothing without your clients, so you want to offer a high level of customer service no matter what phase of growth you’re dealing with at the time.
This point also goes along with the second point about hiring and creating internal systems as well as the third point about cloud-based systems. Are you seeing a trend? Everything is connected, so hopefully you’ll find scaling a business isn’t as stressful as it seems.
Extra Tip: There are people you can hire to help you scale your business if you’re feeling overwhelmed or you are just slightly late in your preparation and need help fast. Find consultants or high-level finance professionals who specialize in helping small businesses develop procedures and reforming internal operations.
Do you have any tips for scaling business growth? Any personal stories? Let us know what worked for you or what you wish you had done differently in the comment section below.
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