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5 Ways You Can Prepare Your Business To Scale

Most companies go through several stages throughout their lifecycle, which allows them to grow in a controlled manner. Think about Facebook, Apple, IBM, and other tech giants—they all started small, experimented with different strategies, and took risks.

For example, Jeff Bezos founded Amazon in his garage. The company started as a digital bookstore and grew into the world’s largest online marketplace. Google, Mattel, and Under Armour had humble beginnings, too.

As a startup founder, you may want to increase sales volume, expand your reach, or hire more people. That’s great, but you need to do it at the right time and plan things out.

Growing too fast, too soon, could kill your business. You might not be able to keep up with the demand, meet customers’ expectations, and prepare your staff for the challenges ahead. For this reason, it’s essential to scale your business for growth instead of jumping all in.

Knowing when it’s time to scale up is equally important. You may not be ready for it if you do it too soon. On the other hand, if you wait too long, you’ll miss out on new opportunities. Inc. recommends taking this step when you have a predictable revenue model and a strong team, among other aspects.

But what does it mean to scale a business? Most importantly, when and how should you do it? Let’s find out.

What Is Scaling In Business?

You may have started a business out of passion, but you still need to make a profit. In addition, you want the world to know about your products or services, embrace your vision, and join you in this journey.

You realize your product sells well, so you decide to grow your team, buy new equipment, and enter new markets. Perhaps you want to build the next big brand and change the world.

While most entrepreneurs share this mentality, few manage to turn their vision into reality. What many fail to understand is that growth is a linear process. You invest in people, equipment, and other resources, hoping to get something in return. But things don’t always go as planned.

About 90% of startups fail, reports Forbes. Nearly 40% run out of money, while 20% get outcompeted. Some grow too fast and realize they can’t keep up with the costs of doing business. Others fail simply because there’s no market need for their products.

Unfortunately, having a great product or service doesn’t guarantee success—and that’s why you should never invest more than you can afford to lose.

One way to mitigate risks is to scale up your business. With this approach, you can achieve sustainable growth without a substantial increase in costs.

Scaling a business is about making small but consistent changes to your operations.

For example, you can leverage search engine optimization (SEO) to reach more customers and drive sales. SEO involves lower costs than other marketing strategies and can yield lasting results. When done right, it can boost your search engine rankings, leading to greater exposure and increased brand awareness.

Similarly, you can use video conferencing, email marketing, and other processes or technologies to scale your startup. These strategies would allow you to grow exponentially while keeping the costs low. On top of that, you’ll have more control over your business.

Not sure where to start? Business owners can do a few things to keep things moving forward consistently.

1.    Define Your Needs And Plan For Growth

Growing a business can be expensive and time-consuming. Since it requires a steady investment, it’s often less profitable than scaling—at least in the short term. The risks are high, too.

Given these aspects, it makes sense to focus on sustainable growth, which you can achieve through scaling. Accordingly, it’s important to define your needs, decide what you want to change, and take one step at a time. Consider your business size, industry, target audience, and existing resources.

For example, scaling a construction firm is more difficult than scaling a software company.

Think about Software as a Service (SaaS) companies, which can sell the same product repeatedly. They can start selling recurring subscriptions or charge for new features and upgrades when they’re ready to scale. A software company can also shift its focus from enterprise clients to small businesses or the other way around without incurring major expenses.

Construction firms, by comparison, may need to invest in new equipment, apply for funding, hire more staff, and change their processes when scaling up. As a result, the costs can be high.

With that in mind, set realistic goals and plan things out in the early stages of your business. Research the market, study other companies in your niche, and build a business model to sustain growth.

2.    Standardize Your Processes

Once you have a plan, take the steps needed to implement standardized processes. The whole point is to streamline your operations, so you cut unnecessary expenses and get more done in less time.

Process standardization can optimize your workflows, reduce costs, and speed up your time-to-market. In the long run, it can improve process quality and work performance. But, at the same time, it can minimize the risk of error and allow you to react faster to market changes.

Popular brands like Coca-Cola, Apple, and Microsoft standardize their production processes, marketing, and other business operations. For example, restaurant franchises use the same methods, recipes, and equipment across all establishments, regardless of their location. Manufacturing companies use standardized processes to ensure their goods meet industry standards.

A good starting point is to establish clear standards for your internal communications. Let your employees know what channels to use for file sharing, project updates, etc. Then, go one step further and implement standardized processes for communicating with vendors, clients, and other third parties.

You can use a similar approach for work processes, like customer support or product delivery.

For example, software companies can ask developers to track the time spent on projects and set completion deadlines. This strategy would allow employees to work more efficiently and minimize “dead time.” Later, you can use this data to improve workflows, project forecasting, and team performance.

3.    Identify Expansion Opportunities

You don’t have to — and shouldn’t — start scaling your business from day one, but it’s important to plan for it. Research the market, stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and look for opportunities. Next, analyze your resources and determine how you could use them to expand your reach.

As mentioned earlier, you could add new features or upgrades to existing products. This strategy works particularly well for software companies and other businesses that sell digital products.

Let’s see other examples:

  • Diversify your offerings
  • Narrow down your niche and focus on increasing your market share
  • Build strategic partnerships with non-competing businesses
  • Make the transition from offline to online (e.g., start an online store)
  • Set up a recurring revenue model (e.g., membership plans, product subscriptions, SaaS products)
  • Acquire an existing business in the same niche as yours

If you’re a lawyer or accountant, you can expand your business by embracing a digital approach. You could build a website and offer consultancy services or group coaching programs, create and sell courses, host webinars, or publish eBooks.

4.    Focus On Building Your Brand

A strong brand can lead to higher profits, steady revenue, and loyal customers — perquisites for sustainable growth.

Branding is what sets you apart from the competition and shapes the public perception of your business. It increases customer recognition, builds trust, and sets a foundation for moving forward.

The best thing you can do is focus on building your brand from day one. Consider your mission and core values, define your ideal customer, and set long-term business goals. Then, with that in mind, work to develop your brand identity and voice.

Once you have defined your brand identity, develop a strategy to communicate your vision. The company’s motto, logo, website design, marketing messaging, colors, fonts, and other aspects all come into play. Also, try to maintain brand consistency across all platforms and channels.

5.    Explore Your Funding Options

The more you expand your business, the higher the costs. Whether you plan to launch a new product or enter new markets, you’ll need access to capital. You may already have an investor by your side, but it’s never a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket.

Research your financing options before going any further. You could get a small business loan, apply for a government grant, or reach out to angel investors. Crowdfunding, venture capital, and factoring can be viable options, too. Just make sure you understand their advantages and drawbacks.

Venture capital (VC), for example, is a good choice for tech startups and innovative organizations. Many VC funds invest in high-risk businesses in niches like IT or cryptocurrency and may participate in their management. Their investment pays off when the company is sold or goes public.

This option isn’t for everyone, though. You may get the money you need to scale your business, but you’ll lose some control over the company. Plus, there’s a chance of facing additional pressure from investors, which can distract you from the things that matter.

Alternatively, you may apply for a loan through the Small Business Administration or join a business incubator. In either case, you’ll need a solid business plan and a clear strategy for growth.

Scale Your Business The Smart Way

There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to scaling a business. You need to consider where you’re at in your entrepreneurial journey, where you’re going, and what resources you have available.

Start by assessing your goals and internal processes. Automate where you can and seek ways to improve your workflows. Determine whether you should hire more people or outsource certain functions to cut costs and get more done. Meanwhile, refine your branding strategy and focus on building a strong team.

Author bio: Andra Picincu is a digital marketing consultant and copywriter with over 12 years of experience; she works closely with small businesses and large organizations alike to help them grow and increase brand awareness.

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